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Do You Need a Sabbatical in Retirement?

Posted by R.F. (Ben) Stewart III, JD, LLM | May 10, 2023 | 0 Comments

We usually associate a sabbatical with a career break that allows a professional to step outside their job, learn something new, recharge, and refocus on new goals. But a sabbatical can also be a transformative experience for retirees as well. By putting a pause on your current retirement schedule, you can expand your ideas about what retirement can be and explore new ways to improve your Return on Life.

Here are three reasons you should consider working with your advisor to build a sabbatical into your retirement $Lifeline.

  1. Immerse yourself in another life.

Does the idea of "slow travel" appeal to you? Instead of spending a few extra days or weeks at a bucket list destination, you could stay for an extended sabbatical. Skip the hotels and resorts and find a house or apartment you can rent where you can live like a local. Shop at farmer's markets. Cook your own meals. Meet neighbors who can point you to restaurants, shops, and cultural experiences off the beaten tourist path. You could also pair your sabbatical stay with another retirement goal, such as learning a new language, improving your cooking skills, or taking art classes. Or, take a sabbatical in that favorite vacation spot where you're thinking about buying a second home and "try before you buy."

  1. Make a difference.

A sabbatical can be a great way to devote more of your time, energy, and money to causes that are important to you. If you want to spend time away from home, there are numerous "voluntourism" companies that match travelers to philanthropic missions. You could also reorganize your current retirement schedule around regular shifts at a local charity, nonprofit, or school. Organizations that help folks in need or address important community problems always need an extra pair of hands. But you also might be able to repurpose your lifetime of professional skills for a group that normally couldn't afford someone with your experience. Rather than volunteering, you might take a part-time job as an administrator, accountant, web designer, or project manager. This type of sabbatical can be a powerful reminder of just how much you still have to give in retirement, how valuable your professional skills are, and how meaningful retirement can be.

  1. Start your second act.

Maybe your retirement already feels too much like an endless weekend. You could use your sabbatical to break up your leisure time with a more purposeful investigation of who you are at this stage of your life and who you want to be. For some retirees, that might mean devoting themselves to a new sport or exercise regimen that helps them focus their mind and body and increase their longevity. Other retirees might want to commit full-time to a hobby or craft. You might take classes online or at your local community college to hone your skills as a writer, painter, carpenter, or computer coder. Professionalizing those skills might inspire you to start a new career in retirement. You might even consider founding your own company and hiring yourself to be the CEO.

Planning for your sabbatical.

A sabbatical can take many different forms, from an extended trip to a more casual unplugging from your regular retirement routine. However large or small the transformation you're hoping to achieve is, it's important that you integrate your sabbatical and your long-term goals into your financial plan. You might need to review your travel budget for the year. You might need to shift some other retirement goals further down your $Lifeline. Your sabbatical might even inspire you to rethink some major cornerstones of your retirement plan altogether.

Let's talk about the kind of sabbatical that you're thinking about and use our Life-Centered Planning Process to help you prepare for what could be a powerful transition in your retirement.

About the Author

R.F. (Ben) Stewart III, JD, LLM

Ben began practicing law in 1985 after receiving a Masters of Law in Taxation from the University of Florida Levin College of Law....


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