How I Took a Sabbatical to Discover My Calling

If you’re a young professional, taking a Sabbatical is a crucial part of growing your career and focusing your calling in life. What is a Sabbatical? It is an extended rest from work, or a hiatus, in order to achieve something.

The concept of a Sabbatical came from God in the Scriptures, when He gave the commandment to stop working the fields in the seventh year. According to Wikipedia, Sabbaticals are growing trends in the United Kingdom with 20% of companies having a career break policy for employees and a further 10% considering starting one.

For young professionals in their twenties, I highly recommend taking a Sabbatical to reflect on and clarify your calling and career direction in life.

When I was a student in university, I didn’t know what I wanted to do in my career or with my life. Once I graduated, I took the first job I was offered in my field. 3 years passed by quickly. Many times I had thoughts about switching jobs or finding something new, but it was much easier to stay put. As with many other things in life, it is easier and safer to stay with what you know than to move into the unknown. I knew I couldn’t stay at that job forever, but I wasn’t sure what to move towards. There was an unsettledness that I felt that I couldn’t quite explain.

After 3 years of working, I took a 6-month Sabbatical. I had just turned 25 so I jokingly called it my quarter-life crisis. I quit my job to travel around Asia, something I’m glad that I did when I was still single. But more importantly, I took this time to reflect on what I’ve learned about myself in my career so far and where God wanted me to head in the future.

During my Sabbatical I discovered that I learned a lot about myself in the 3 years I spent at my first job – things I would not have known if I did not work there. But it took the time of reflection and listening to capture those lessons. And when I had the chance to step back from my regular life, away from the daily grind, I was able to uncover more of what I was truly passionate about and what God was nudging me towards.

Then, when I turned 30, I took another one-month Sabbatical (an unpaid leave that my employer allowed for and I took advantage of). During this time, I gained greater clarity about my calling in life, which encompassed more than just my career.

Here’s a few tips if you are taking a Sabbatical:

–          Get out of the city. Go away to someplace different. If you stay in town, you will find yourself getting distracted by things to do and people to see, even if you do not have to work.

–          Get unplugged. Turn off my cell phone, tablet, and laptop. If you need, check your messages once a week.

–          Read. Bring books that will stimulate your thinking.

–          Reflect and Journal. Take a walk, sit by the ocean, and reflect on your past experiences. Write down your thoughts in a journal.

–          Pray. Take time to talk to God, and to listen to what He may have to tell you.

–          Rest. Sleep lots. Take naps. Allow yourself to slow down.

A Sabbatical allows you to take a step back from your every day responsibilities and interactions with people to deeply reflect and listen to God. After both Sabbaticals I made major career changes, and came to more clarity for God’s calling in my life.

What’s holding you back from taking a Sabbatical?

About Tim Chan:

Tim has been married for 4 years and has a 7-month old baby girl. He is an Area Manager for LeaderImpact Group and together with his wife Olive, writes about thoughtful marriage and parenting at www.timandolive.com. You can find Tim on Facebook and Twitter.


  • Kristen

    Great post, Tim! I am coming up to the end of my Master’s degree and I have no idea what I want to do afterward, but my mind and soul cry out for a break from having been in school for so long. What holds me back is the fact that I don’t have money to travel, and I don’t know where I’d go or live if I did, mostly because of a lack of money. But it is definitely something that I would love to do for at least a month or more!

  • @Kristen: One idea for a low-budget way to get away and stay somewhere different is to ask around and see if anyone needs house sitting in a city other than the one you live in. That’s what we did for our 1-month Sabbatical last year. We had friends in Victoria who were going away and we house sat for them. It was a win-win situation as they could be away knowing that their place was being taken care of and we could have a place to stay that was quiet. There are definitely ways to work within your budget, regardless of how small that may be! In the long run, it’s worth it.

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  • This sounds so awesome, I’ve been wanting to have something like this!! What’s holding me back? I don’t think I’d have my job back if I did this – and I wouldn’t want to lose my job right now for financial obligations other than paying off debt from student loans, oh yeah that too, I’d really like to pay it off. Family obligations – I’m single alright, but I’m the only child to a pair of parents with certain needs… I’m not sure if those are “excuses?” If possible at all I definitely want to spend 1-2 months away. Do you have any specific prompts/topics to reflect upon?

  • Love this! I’ve been having the urge to take a sabbatical for years and I’m finally listening. I’m of next week to the beach and I’ll bring my journal with too. Thanks for the awesome inspiration!