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Unwilling to Return After a Sabbatical

By: Maggie Lonsdale BA (hons) - Updated: 19 Nov 2010 | comments*Discuss
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There can be many reasons why you would not want to return home after a sabbatical. In order to work out if this is just because you are not keen to get back to normality, like when you have had a great holiday and you know there will be a long list of emails to deal with then you get back to the office, or because you have radically changed your views and priorities, we need to look at your options.

Are You Able to Stay Longer?

Sometimes we want to do something because we know it is not possible – this makes something more appealing and the fact that we can’t is an excuse as to why it will not happen. When you realise that you do not want to return from your sabbatical, put out some feelers with the organisation or management you are one sabbatical with to see how possible it is that you could stay longer.

Some sabbaticals are very time specific, with a set one year contract with a beginning, middle and end of the project or task at hand. You may be able to undertake a whole new sabbatical, or another one year contract, especially if you have proven your worth. It is also possible that your organisation may need staff themselves, or project leaders.

Can You Afford to Stay Longer?

It is easy to get carried away with the idea that you can stay longer on sabbatical and not return to work when you planned. Before you commit to staying for another session, weigh up your financial commitments at home. If you have tenants in your home, are they happy to stay longer? If you have savings that you are using, how much longer will they last? If you were in rented accommodation, did you hand in your notice or are you expected to return? None of these issues are enough to make you change your mind if you have decided to stay, but at least make the decision with an open mind.

What Commitments Do You Have?

This works in both directions – you can have commitments both back at your ‘old life’ and those that you have established on sabbatical. Much depends on whether you have made promises to anyone – this can be your old employer, your flatmates or tenants, or people you have met during your trip. You need to be fair with everyone, but you also need to be fair to yourself. There is no point honouring a promise to return to your old job when you know you don’t want to and you’ll probably leave within the first couple of months anyway.

If you are able to talk to your employer and they have kept your job open for you, you need to be honest and say you have reservations about returning. They may not be surprised, especially if you have kept in contact during your sabbatical. If you work for a large organisation it may be possible to delay your return, although if you know that you are unlikely to ever want to go back, you must make it clear.

Wait One Month

A good way to come to an honest well thought out conclusion as to whether you should change your life again and not return from your sabbatical is to allow yourself one month in your old life. If this is at all possible, you will be able to understand whether you were just not keen to end your adventure or if you have fundamentally changed and want to live that life full time.

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