The Sabbatical Proposal Continued

by Matt | 1 Year Sabbatical on April 13, 2011

The Sabbatical Proposal ContinuedA few weeks ago I presented a sabbatical proposal to my boss that was well received.  I didn’t think it would take much to convince her though because she’s cool like that and is a world traveler herself.  In fact she and her family are spending 3 weeks in France this summer.  So I knew she wouldn’t be the hard sell; it was going to be HR.

Well yesterday my boss met with HR, presented my proposal and got the full scoop on company policy. Afterward we sat down to talk things over.  The bottom line is that the company will not authorize a yearlong leave of absence or sabbatical.  The most any employee has ever been authorized for is 4 months of leave.  Corporate policy clearly states a max of 3 months leave but the HR director thought we could milk 4 months out of it.

Our options are:

  1. Take the 4 months and come back to the job
  2. Quit and move overseas and make epic things happen

So, obviously that was a bit disappointing but not totally unexpected.  So while the 1 year sabbatical has been squashed by corporate, the dream of traveling and living in Indonesia lives on and the adventure continues.  We’re still doing this thing regardless!

 “Defeat may test you; it need not stop you. If at first you don’t succeed, try another way. For every obstacle there is a solution. Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. The greatest mistake is giving up.”

Sure it would be better if we had a failsafe and security of a job waiting for us back home but the truth is this adventure has too much momentum behind it, too much passion invested, too much sacrifice and dedication to give up on it so easily. 

I also realize that just because I have a job now doesn’t mean it’s secure.  I’ve had jobs before that I thought were secure and then the company folded up around me.  It happens.  I now know that I shouldn’t count on someone else to make my success and provide my security.  I have to go out there and create it myself.  In this day and age the bottom line of any company is not the employees.

In some ways this turn of events is a good thing.  I’ve found throughout my life that when I have the things I need all tied up in a nice tidy little package I am less motivated to do things for myself.  By not having the security of a guaranteed job to come back too it falls on my shoulders to make things happen financially so that we can survive.  It’s no longer a situation of “I’ll give this thing a try and see if it works.”  It’s now a situation of “I need to make this work.”

“Lots of people limit their possibilities by giving up easily. Never tell yourself this is too much for me. It’s no use. I can’t go on. If you do you’re licked, and by your own thinking too. Keep believing and keep on keeping on.” ~ Norman Vincent Peale

What I am trying to say is that when we have to do something we find ways of doing it.  There are opportunities all around us. We just need to open our eyes to see them in creative ways.  We need to keep on keeping on.

So with that in mind our journey continues.  Next steps are firming up a departure date and purchasing some tickets.

“Being defeated is often a temporary condition. Giving up is what makes it permanent” ~ Marilyn vos Savant

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Gillian @OneGiantStep April 13, 2011 at 8:36 am

Good attitude Matt. We asked for leaves from our jobs before traveling but knew that, if the answer was no, that we would resign and deal with it later. We are smart, educated, talented, entertaining, fun people who are willing to live anywhere to work so we knew that, although it was a risk, we would likely be just fine. Jason actually only received approval for 6 months leave which he said yes to although we had no intention of returning at that point. Our plan was to contact them at 51/2 months to ask them to consider an extension. At 51/4 months THEY contacted Jason informing him that they were willing to extend if he was. You never know what might happen so don’t burn any bridges. I’m glad this isn’t changing your plans – you are going to be surprised at how employable you will be!! Cheers!
Gillian @OneGiantStep recently posted..Taking A Small Bite Out Of The Big Apple


Matt | 1 Year Sabbatical April 17, 2011 at 11:45 am

Wow! How awesome was that!? I certainly will not be burning any bridges. Maybe after 4 months they will realize that they can’t live without me. 🙂 I love how everything worked out for you guys in the end. Your worst case was never realized and I think that is probably true in most cases.


madrabeag April 22, 2011 at 9:30 pm

Good stuff. I think anyone definitely has to go into any discussion about an unusually long time off expecting to hear “this is totally unacceptable” and plan accordingly. I ran into a few corporate-won’t-approve-of-this-even-if-I-do comments when telling my bosses I was taking 10 months off next year. I told them (a little more professionally) that I didn’t expect corporate policy to work around my goals but would still be taking the time, and that they’d just received a massive notice period 🙂 That ….. wasn’t what they expected to hear; cue the suggestion we discuss it again later.


Matt | 1 Year Sabbatical April 25, 2011 at 11:01 pm

Yeah, I was fortunate to have an understanding boss who is a world traveler herself and who thinks that I need to take this time. If only she made the final decisions instead of corporate. I think there are probably still a lot of misconceptions on what a sabbatical is and how it can really benefit a company. I definitely knew that this proposal would be a long shot but I held out some hope. So now I can either just take the leap of faith and spend a full year in Indonesia and hope that a position will be here when I get back or take the 4 months they offered and see what happens. Good luck on your journey. I hope you will let me know how it goes. Cheers!


The Dropout April 24, 2011 at 7:46 am

Many things can change in a year. You may not want to go back after a year! I know I didn’t.
I think it’s great that you are now motivated to “make things happen financially”. Sometimes you need to think “what’s the worst that can happen”. Once you work out what it is, you most often realise that it’s not actually that bad.
Good luck! I’m watching your story with interest. We’re heading to Chiang Mai in August to “make things happen financially” indefinitely.
The Dropout recently posted..How Bad Hair Gave Me Best Friends


Matt | 1 Year Sabbatical April 25, 2011 at 11:11 pm

You know, even my boss mentioned that I might not want to come back and I guess that is a distinct possibility depending on how things go over there. We will be living for a bit with the in-laws so we could be back after a month! (I joke about that….I think). I’ve talked with so many people that have taken the leap of faith and had so many wonderful opportunities open up to them as a result. I’m open to that as well. 🙂


Bluegreen Kirk April 28, 2011 at 11:03 am

I think that though you didnt the full year 4 months to leave and come back know you have a job is great. Plus you get the chance to really test and see if this is something you would like to extend for longer.
Bluegreen Kirk recently posted..Steal A Page From Miami Vice With a South Beach Getaway


Matt | 1 Year Sabbatical April 29, 2011 at 1:39 am

You know I think you are on to something here. Four months is a considerable amount of time and even though I didn’t get the full year that I requested it will allow for a trial period to see how things go. Testing the waters and maintaining the “security” of something to come back to may just be the ticket. Thanks for your input!


Annie Andre April 28, 2011 at 11:07 am

Way to go. As someone who has been on an extended leave with my family for 8 months and planning another one I know exactly how you feel. We don’t have secure jobs waiting for us and at first it is very scary. But, as corny as it sounds. Where theres a will there is a way.

so are you going for the full year.?


Matt | 1 Year Sabbatical April 29, 2011 at 1:42 am

Hi Annie! I totally agree. It often seems that when we don’t “have” to do something we tend to not do something. But when forced with a “make it or break” it scenario we always tend to make it one way or another. Congrats on 8 months of leave and your decision to spend a year in France. So exciting!


Andrew May 1, 2011 at 9:23 am

Hi Matt,

Go for it! As someone else planning a bit of a hiatus, take the 12 month knock back as a sign. If anything, you’ve scored yourself 10 months in the clear, then 2 months of vacation time where you have to think / apply for jobs for the 13th month.

Interested in a ‘continued part III’ on your decision… unless your boss reads your site! You’ll be blown away by the spare time you’ve got to create/generate your own income once you give work the flick.


Matt | 1 Year Sabbatical May 2, 2011 at 1:12 am

Hi Andrew! Thanks for the comment. We’re unsure at this point of what exactly we will do in terms of the time we will take. We are definitely maintaining the schedule though and looking to firm up our dates soon with the purchase of tickets. I’ll be posting more updates for sure.

I’d love to figure out a few different ways to create/generate our own income. My wife’s dream has always been to start a bakery which we may just do. Lots of options out there if you ahve the courage and hard work to make them happen. Cheers!


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