All around you staff, colleagues and business partners are considering a ‘sabbatical’. But what is a sabbatical and when do you need to consider taking yours, if at all?

In recent times, ‘sabbatical’ has come to mean an extended absence from your workplace in order to achieve something. Corporates offer paid and unpaid sabbaticals. In the UK more than 30% of companies now offer this benefit.

A sabbatical buys time to catch up on personal and other career goals not possible within the current structure. But do you really need to take a sabbatical to achieve these things? Shouldn’t this have been possible within the confines of your current career and lifestyle?

This brings us to burnout. ‘Burnout,’ experts say, is your body’s wake-up call to tell you that your life and career are not sustainable. Burning out tells you that your current way of operating at work and in your career has become untenable. It indicates that the story you have constructed about who you are, your purpose in being here, and that what gives you meaning is no longer appropriate for the context in which you find yourself. But burnout can be a great thing if you decide to use it to your advantage.


You can be ‘content’ (happy and fulfilled) if you create equilibrium between the five key foundational elements of life – body, spirit, self, relationships and career. When you decide to claim your balance your chances of burning out are slimmer. The key is to know what your boundaries are before hitting ‘burnout’ mode.

Define them, respect them, and you’ll own the rewards.

Will the new you look differently from you today? Absolutely! There will be lots of change. But you should decide to be the driver of your change and not the passenger.

Are you willing to embark on the journey to create that equilibrium? Are you willing to stand out because of the findings and boundaries you discover by creating your balance? Then, if you desperately need that sabbatical, take it. But if you’re not burnt out yet, don’t let it happen. Bring about the change this year. Be proactive about it!

Author: Stanford Payne CA(SA) is an ICF-accredited executive and business coach