Taking a break from career

New / Eng MS DOS💾
Apr 3 283 Comments

Thinking to quit my job and take 2-3 year sabbatical to travel and enjoy life. Anyone done it? Is it hard to get a job after not working for several years?

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TOP 283 Comments
  • Tell us more - how old are you? How can you afford to take 2-3 years off to goof off?
    Apr 3 23
    • New / Eng MS DOS💾
      OP
      Lol I'm not a trust fund baby, didn't inherit anything and paid for college with student loans. Passive income is from AirBnb rental business I run on the side.
      Apr 3
    • Autodesk spybot
      OP that’s not entirely passive, but I get what you mean. Good on you for having something going on the side that can afford you some breathing room. I am trying to sort out the same for myself.
      Apr 4
    • New / Eng MS DOS💾
      OP
      You can think of passive vs active income as a spectrum. On one side you have 100% active income, a job where you exchange your time for money. On the other side of the spectrum you have fixed income securities which is the only source of 100% passive income. I spend less than an hour per week managing my AirBnb business, so it's relatively passive.
      Apr 4
    • Amazon tYhgX
      @msdos how much margin do you manage to make on Airbnb?
      Apr 4
    • Microsoft / Product
      Brazuka

      Microsoft Product

      PRE
      Bain & Company
      Brazukamore
      3 years sabbatical is really long. Maybe think 1-1.5 years instead. You can take another one 7-8 years later
      Apr 5
  • What are you going to do though? Do you have a plan for the sabbatical? You’ll get bored pretty quick, trust me. Heck, I feel like I have nothing to do right now even with a job - I don’t know how to fill the time!
    Apr 3 18
    • SAP pWhJ04
      You own an Xbox or PlayStation ?
      Apr 3
    • Wolters Kluwer gtUY05
      If you make it down to Mexico your savings can take you far in a place like PV
      Apr 3
    • Facebook / Eng bushdid119
      How do you climb over that Mexico wall?
      Apr 3
    • Splunk KE94107
      Same way the Mexicans do: in a plane.
      Apr 3
    • Amazon SorFillson
      Easy. Open the one way door. Getting back is the challenge. Fly to Canada in that case.
      Apr 7
  • Amazon / Eng patelra
    I read something on Huffington Post that the most optimal vacation is 8 days, anything after that and you just get bored. Have you considered taking a month off to travel and see how you like it? 2-3 years seems excessive
    Apr 3 8
    • PayPal codestar
      Highest degree of bullshit I have ever read.
      Apr 3
    • Ahah well I took holidays from 2 days to 9 months. The best ones were always the longest ones.
      The best ones are actually the ones where you have enough time to relax and be ok with not doing anything that day without the fear of losing a day of holiday
      Apr 3
    • Indeed / Eng lolzzzzz
      Bullshit + 1. Back from a month vacation and wishing I had 2 more months break.
      Apr 3
    • Xilinx ba*fZ-1qEr
      Working at Amazon, unironic consumption and internalization of HuffPo. The golden rule of missing the point.
      Apr 3
    • New / Eng MS DOS💾
      OP
      What @gokdforu says is the reason I want to do this. Normal work vocation — everything is planned out to make the best of the limited time. Sabbatical — you live different lifestyle for extended period of time.
      Apr 3
  • Facebook ibeethat
    Hi there! I'm about your age and in the last 10 years I have taken three sabbaticals each lasting 9 months. During those periods I learned new skills and hobbies, traveled the country, read books, spent time with family, took adventure trips off grid and visited friends. They have been the best periods of my life and often the personal work I tackle there leads me to my next job. If you don't relate to people who would 'get bored' with 'nothing to do' then I highly recommend doing it. It is my view that work gets in the way of the more interesting stuff and that time is needed away in order to grow. Time away also allows space to reflect on your career thus far... And to plan for where you want to go in the future and how best to fashion your strategy to get there.
    Apr 3 7
    • New / Eng MS DOS💾
      OP
      Thanks for encouragement @ibeetthat and @tatochip!
      Apr 3
    • Dropbox systest
      @rw Why can’t people afford it? SWE pay is insane even with sky high rents.
      Apr 3
    • LinkedIn Zxosns939
      What about health insurance and stuff? How do you make it work?
      Apr 4
    • Facebook ibeethat
      Re. Affordability: prior to my job in tech I was self employed for many years in what used to be a well paying industry ( times have changed). I didn't live in the Bay and my COL was insanely low.. allowing me to save a good bit of money. Anything I didn't invest I put towards my sabbaticals after deciding how much runway I wanted. For one sabbatical I just went without healthcare, for the others I was covered through my wife's care at a reasonable rate.
      Apr 4
    • Facebook ibeethat
      I'll follow @tatochip and add some gotchas that I discovered in my sabbatical adventures: 1) Yup - you'll spend money faster than you think. Be sure to start lining up your next gig when you have two months+ of cash left to burn. 2) embracing a simple and minimal diet will help save money. 3) I actually loved that my friends were on regular working schedules - I would meet different friends for lunch at or near their work and invite them out for drinks in the evenings. It was the most social time of my life and my friends all enjoyed my energy. 4) I did deal with self doubt which gets worse as time goes on. We live in a culture that messages us to be busy and productive all the time. Going against this grain feels audacious. The messaging got to me and sometimes I would wonder if I would find work ever again. I can tell you after three sabbaticals: I always end up in a better place with more life experience and no regrets. 5) I have absolutely sacrificed earning potential and career status... But I'm doing fine and I feel the trade-off was worth it. It's my tax for having lived on my own terms and I'm happy to have spent the money.
      Apr 4
  • Oscar 🐨koala
    All about DOSing leetcode. You can always work on side project or get contract work for a while.
    Apr 3 9
    • Oscar 🐨koala
      No. I did assume :)
      Apr 3
    • Xero baytechie
      Nice assumption 😀
      Apr 3
    • Twitch RbOv54
      For this reason, I'm jealous of folks who work in eng as you can work remote and practice leetcoding, whereas I feel like business folks really don't have that luxury :(
      Apr 3
    • Google / Eng JLrC80
      Did you just assume he/she/it assumed that he/she/it was an Eng? I am assuming that is a reasonable assumption...
      Apr 6
    • Oscar 🐨koala
      Can I assume that you/they/it are/is late to the party because you/they/it spent time digging up old posts? 😭
      Apr 6
  • Amazon yWsJ24
    I've done a month off, and honestly, it was enough. I felt amazing by the end of it. I would probably lose my mind in 2-3 years without intellectual stimulation.
    Apr 3 3
    • New / Eng MS DOS💾
      OP
      Is work – the only intellectual stimulation?
      Apr 3
    • Uber ipojesus
      Installing MS DOS on floppy disks can be stimulating as well.
      Apr 3
    • Amazon LoanerBadg
      Or frustrating. Maybe OP just need to switch to using CDs and he will enjoy life and lit more.
      Apr 3
  • LinkedIn KIOX76
    I feel like you aren't getting good advice on what you are asking, and it's just a bunch of workaholics answering that they will be bored. Just because their life revolves around work doesn't mean yours is. I have friends who's taken 6 months to 1 year off to travel, to chill, pursue different hobbies and they've had 0 issues finding a job. One works at Google now and another one at an unicorn startup.
    Companies understand burnout and you wanting to take a break. As long as you leetcode and crush your interview on the way back I see 0 issues
    Apr 3 1
    • Fully agree. Do it, take some time off during your good years to do what you like. It will not change anything in your career in the end.
      Apr 3
  • Google Mark985
    I think about doing the same half of my work day. I've works for 19 years and I don't want to wait to until retirement with all sorts illments like arthritis to enjoy life.

    If you have the courtage to swim against what society deemands of us all the power to you!
    Apr 3 2
    • Google TensorCow
      Do it. I did it. You won’t regret it!
      Apr 3
    • Google hahaha!
      Let’s all do it and make it normal! 🙌
      Apr 3
  • Amazon rumpNoT
    I just finished my parental leave, almost 3 months. It's awesome. Haven't take that long vacation for 15+ years. I just don't want to be back for work.
    Apr 3 8
    • Tableau devy
      Physical trauma? Are you serious? How do you know giving birth is a trauma?
      Apr 3
    • Uber Ken Doll
      🍿 🍿
      Apr 3
    • @devy, what are you saying, that it's easy to give birth?
      Apr 3
    • eBay / IT
      manorama

      eBay IT

      BIO
      Coder
      manoramamore
      @amazon parental leave at Amazon is just 6 weeks , right ? Did you take non paid leaves to make it 3 months ?
      Apr 4
    • Amazon / Eng dynamodebe
      other countries do have longer parental leaves, lower paid, but longer ;-)
      Apr 4
  • I am off on sabbatical right now. I hit FI before quitting, told my work that I was taking an extended leave and told my very close friends that I’m debating retiring.

    It’s been AWESOME. For the first time in years I feel refreshed. I thought I was ready to flip the whole industry the finger and go back to the motherland but now I am thinking of going back in the most chill position I can find.
    Apr 3 13
    • eBay martinw
      Could you share your TC when you worked at Google and Microsoft? Any tips for someone hoping to fire in 5 years?
      Apr 5
    • Don’t remember my MS numbers, was at about 330k at google.

      Biggest advice I can give is to really scrutinize your spending. It is way easier to shave 5 years off your time to FI by spending smarter than it is to do so by earning more. When you are deciding if you want to buy X or Y don’t just look at the cost of the product, think about how much you spend per year on that recurring purchase, multiply it by 25 and that’s it’s true cost to your ability to retire. Organic chicken vs non organic doesn’t seem as appealing when you realize that it adds $7000 to your cost of retirement. Same for your morning coffee, your car insurance, the shampoo you buy, etc etc.
      Apr 5
    • AIG / Product
      Raging

      AIG Product

      PRE
      Deloitte Digital
      BIO
      Counseling CxOs for AI-first strategy !
      Ragingmore
      @blueriver 25x is over-provisioning just for a sabbatical.
      Apr 5
    • Facebook blueriver
      25x is for FI (Financial Independence). You can absolutely take a sabbatical before FI, but the OP was talking about taking a sabbatical after they hit FI.
      Apr 5
    • blueriver nails it again. I wasn’t planning on sabbatical, I was planning on retirement.

      After a year-ish away I am missing it and debating trying to find a gig that’s minimal stress.
      Apr 5
  • Hyperconnect EFpW72
    I've done it recently. In my case, it wasn't hard to get next job, but having trouble in doing my work well.
    Apr 3 4
    • New / Eng MS DOS💾
      OP
      Interesting... Did you have trouble adjusting back to working life?
      Apr 3
    • Amazon 63784747
      What kind of troubles? Concentrating?
      Apr 3
    • Hyperconnect EFpW72
      Oh my comment was not clear.
      My skill is not as good as it was. Before having the break, I was good at my work and confident, but now I feel like being trash sometimes.
      Apr 3
    • LinkedIn nckshwdbr
      Are you having trouble because after seeing the world out there you are finding it hard to care about work?
      Apr 3
  • Salesforce alphab
    Hit me up if you need a buddy on your journey! Pretty much the same age, the same career boat and I am planning on doing that myself.
    For all that I can earn, I don’t wanna die knowing there was a world I didn’t explore like the way it was meant to be seen.
    Apr 3 2
    • EA / Eng activision
      pathetic
      Apr 3
    • Microsoft UDrN11
      What's pathetic? Your greedy money hunting ass is pathetic. No one is going to.give a shit if you're rich when you're married, 50, and have 2 kids and the only satisfaction you get from your hard work is passively bragging around people with less money than you. Be honest with yourself.
      Apr 3
  • New / Mgmt VSwf01
    It's stupid. I did so for 9 years. Blew my savings and wasn't earning. Don't waste the best times your life.
    Apr 3 6
    • Amazon yWsJ24
      Did the 9 years suck? Could they not have been awesome if well planned?
      Apr 3
    • Google / Eng yogi bear
      The heck 9 years?! You could travel around the world with half of that time
      Apr 3
    • LinkedIn ex-fb
      PhD?
      Apr 3
    • C.H. Robinson Merp0
      What does that mean? Are you saying that traveling would be a waste of your best years? That would be a first.
      Apr 3
    • Walmart.com Qbis80
      It took 9 years to realize?
      Apr 3
  • Microsoft speechless
    Stop asking the group and follow your heart. Life is short, if you can afford to take time off and enjoy life then why work? Just enjoy life.
    Apr 3 0
  • Amazon / Other y2dry3
    I'd imagine those 2-3 years will change you completely. Don't bother about getting back to work. I bet you will never return to what you are doing now after that sabbatical. Perhaps you will live in a completely different place and become a beekeeper instead. I've seen only few guys who did it for 1.5 years and they were totally changed. Let it happen!
    Apr 3 0
  • Intuit Heyyyyyy
    You should definitely do it. I’m starting my trip in a couple of months. I have been planing it for a while to figure out the high level plan. I’m going to to 13 different countries for couple years. I have talked to couple of people who have done this and they had no problem of getting back to work. Once you come back, you will just need a couple months to adjust. The world is so much bigger than all these things happing at work. Work is not your life, it’s only part of life. Many of my coworkers wish they could do what I do. They all have commitments or other attachments. If you have the opportunity to do it. Do it. You many not have that chance again. “It will change your life,” said by multiple people I have talked to. There are documentaries of people who have done this online. You can watch them on Netflix.
    Apr 3 2
    • Facebook blueriver
      interesting, i always heard that a resume gap is really bad. they still got interviews after a multi year resume gap? did they have to explain the gap in their interviews as well?
      Apr 4
    • Apple / HR SnVL04
      You got some Netflix titles you are referring to?
      Apr 4
  • This comment was deleted by original commenter.

    • Facebook ibeethat
      For a lot of us even these fancy jobs in tech are just a means to an end. What we truly love is to pursue our own projects and to exist outside of schedules and clock-time. Sometimes the 'deeper problem' is that we have to work at all. PS I'm envious of those who can really say they love their jobs (my wife is one)... That's a great place to be!
      Apr 3
    • LinkedIn ex-fb
      Unless you invented self driving cars, you seriously couldn’t find something more fun than a mundane google swe job?
      Apr 3
    • Amazon anonts
      Lol.. you high?
      Apr 3
    • New / Eng MS DOS💾
      OP
      I loved programming since I was a teenager. And still love it but it's not as fun when you are doing it for 💰.
      Apr 3
  • Apple
    Spraynard

    Apple

    BIO
    Call me Spray for short
    Spraynardmore
    I took 3 months off last year and traveled to 7 different countries. It was great! I think everyone should do it. I decided not to look for work right away when I got back, so all-in-all about 6 months off. I found 3 months traveling about my limit, although that was out of a suitcase and not an RV. But I have to echo some here, 2+ years at 34 might not be the best idea. If I had to give advice I’d say, transition to a contract role first. Establish a client or two and then take a year. It will be A LOT easier to come back from. 2+ years employers in the future will look at this as you lost your desire for the job and might not want to take a chance hiring you. If only a year they look at it as a sabbatical and not a mid life crisis. Plus after so long I imagine you’d have a hard time summoning the will to return. A year will probably scratch your itch and not shut all doors. Although on the flip side, after a couple years off you may find an entirely different (new found) hobby (that isn’t a video game) as something you’d like to pursue as a second career. ???

    But also consider this, starting about your age is the prime years that you start to compile wealth, and to take time off just to do it cuts into this time of wealth building and unless you really are a trustafarian you might shoot yourself in the long run by making it so that you have to work an extra 5-10 years on the backside for this little endeavor.

    My plan is to compile cash and try to find a nice cheap place to retire to that my coffers will last me until I die, like Thailand or some other cheap country that costs half as much as the US but isn’t a third world sHole.

    Overall I think it’s pretty risky move to do such a long time away. Just my two cents
    Apr 3 5
    • Uber d hu wiu
      Bs. Age is a number. He can compile wealth anytime. Health doesnt wait unfortunately. Enjoy life and adventure
      Apr 3
    • LinkedIn ex-fb
      @Uber
      You wouldn’t like it if at 60 your colleagues are wealthy enough to retire, and you still have to work!
      Memories of along times go vacation won’t help you then.

      It is easy to hide the sabbatical as a failed startup
      Apr 3
    • Amazon anonts
      Great advice 👍
      Apr 3
    • Oath vmg_oath
      It’s momentary world, what makes it to think that we will live tll 60 🐻
      Apr 6
    • Uber d hu wiu
      Nonsense. Work is quickly becoming a choice in today's world. If you want to have a simple life you dont need that much money. Plus it doesnt take a lot of effort to make decent money.
      Apr 6
  • Google / R&D clay
    I took four years, during which I opened a non-tech business. When I wanted to come back, it took me half a year to find a job - it was extremely hard just to get an interview. When I did find a job, within weeks I was flooded with better offers, and within a few months I was back to my old self career-wise, except I was no longer burnt-out.
    Apr 4 3
    • New / Eng MS DOS💾
      OP
      What kind of non-tech business did you run?
      Apr 4
    • Google / R&D clay
      A restaurant
      Apr 4
    • Google 46fXhGu
      I feel like this is an ideal scenario. How many years did you spend in the industry before taking the break?
      Apr 4
  • Monster / Mgmt
    meddic

    Monster Mgmt

    PRE
    Monster
    meddicmore
    I would just do some social media documenting/content of your “journey” when you are in an interview you can point towards the industry specific things you experienced
    Apr 3 2