Sabbat­ical: How does the time out work?

Sabbatical: In this guest article from Christa Langheiter, sabbatical coach and author, you can learn more about the reasons for the desire to take a career break and how such a time out can work.

Travel Guide

By Christa Langheiter – Time-out consultant and author of the guidebook "Mut zur Auszeit" (Courage for time-out)

Finally realizing the dream of a round-the-world trip after years of working. Having more time for important personal matters such as family, nature or spirituality. Or living in your own rhythm once in your life. The reasons for a career break are manifold, and more and more people no longer want to suppress their dreams.

At the same time, the burnout rate has risen to extremely high levels in recent years. It couldn’t be clearer: the person expresses that he/she cannot and does not want to work like this anymore. In this case, a time out is no longer a voluntary matter, but a must, so the empty batteries can be recharged.

But how does a longer professional break succeed, whether it is voluntary or necessary? And how can the positive knock-out effect lead to sustainable changes?

Planning and finances

In general, there is no right to take a longer career break, so it is essential to find a suitable arrangement for both sides – employee and employer – unless you quit and become independent that way. In any case, an employer is more likely to agree to a time out if he/she sees a chance to get a more motivated, recovered employee back. Furthermore, an employer will rather say yes if it is easy to regulate who will take over the employee's agendas during the time off.

In case this is difficult, as it is often the case with specifically qualified employees in small companies, it may be a good idea to accept a shorter time out of a few months. A shorter time out is also a smaller financial challenge as you usually need to deal with less money during the time out. The length of the time out should be adjusted to the financial possibilities, otherwise unnecessary stress can arise due to financial pressure.


When taking a time out, don’t expect that everybody will be happy for you. Colleagues or friends might like to take a break themselves, but don't dare to realize this dream. Envy is often the reason for why your social environment reacts negatively to your time out plans. Fear might also be a reason; often by parents or other people who feel responsible the person who need to have a break. Explaining your motivation can help to make your environment understand and to think positive about your plans

Time and contacts

A longer break is a big change. Having so much time out of a sudden often involves a learning process. Doing nothing for half a year and letting everything just happen is often too much of a challenge for many people. Therefore, it is helpful to think carefully about how much structure the time out needs and how much you want to plan.

Going to work every day also means having constant contact with people. These contacts are omitted during the time out. Who will you have regular contact with during your break?

End and beginning

Anyone who returns from a 6-month trip to Asia the day before work, prevents a lasting time out effect due to the sudden kicking in of everyday life. It is therefore essential to allow sufficient time for the transition from time out to work in order to achieve a sustainable and successful time out effect. The same goes for all the things that you have discovered to be beneficial during your time-out – whether it is jogging, meeting friends or eating a healthy diet. These new habits can also be put into practice in everyday working life. After all, what is the best time out effect if you are already after a timeout after two months of being back at your workplace?

For those who would like to use their precious time out ideally and looks for support within the jungle of time out questions, a time out consultation can be a good investment.

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