What's your problem?

I need to ask my manager for a sabbatical. I really enjoy my job but have been offered the opportunity to pursue one of my dreams - to take part in a round-the-world sailing voyage.

by Jeremy Bullmore
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

As far as I know, the company has never given anyone a career break. But this is really important to me and I feel that it is now or never. I need only three months off. I want to do this but dread not having a job to come back to. What should I do?

A: You sound as if you're fairly fancy-free: not too many wives, children or other guilt-inducing dependents. So it's really only your fear of losing your job that's holding you back. Well, you can't have it all ways.

For your company - and therefore for some of your colleagues as well - your three-month absence will mean a lot of inconvenience and readjustment. And just when they've readjusted, you'd like to come bouncing back in again - involving them in even more inconvenience.

If you're really determined to do this trip, give your manager plenty of advance warning. Tell him that you thoroughly enjoy your job and would love to come back to it - but know you've no right to expect it, so you don't. Don't even mention the word sabbatical unless he chooses to first.

Even if he makes quite encouraging noises, be prepared for three months on your boat, living with an uncertain future. But isn't fulfilling that dream of yours worth it? If not, don't go.

- Jeremy Bullmore is a former creative director and chairman of J Walter Thompson London. His book Another Bad Day at the Office is published by Penguin at £6.99. Address your problem to Jeremy Bullmore at: editorial@mtmagazine.co.uk. Regrettably, no correspondence can be entered into.

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