My 2020 Career Break / Sabbatical Journey

Ardiansyah
5 min readApr 3, 2021

A little bit about career break or sabbatical, they are a period of time out from employment. And as far as I can remember, the difference between career break and sabbatical is in sabbatical you are still employed during your time out, but not in career break. About the pros you can gain new perspective or skills, achieve personal fulfillment, travel, or just rejuvenate and rest. And the cons it can halt your career and might experience significant financial loss.

Instead of writing an article about software development, I will share my experience about taking a career break. I’m not sure which definition fits better with my case, but I will just call it career break.

This story begins in a few months before 2019 ends. I read a discussion from some people who were talking about career break/sabbatical on a local Telegram community. I tried to research a little bit more about career break and I was thinking I will try it in the future. I’m a huge planner and I love to research about something meaningful and useful in life. I had a plan to use my career break to learn new things and also just rest, but I was not sure when and how long it would be.

At that time, I was working full-time remotely on a tech consulting company in Indonesia and I also had an ongoing freelance project. I had a plan to resign from my full-time job soon, because they didn’t really accept remote work. I was the 1st employee that work remotely (Oct 2018–Oct 2019) there, and they didn’t accept any other employee to work remotely. So they accept me to work remotely just because I led a specific important project on that company.

My first plan was actually to resign, and then practicing English while finishing my freelance project, … and then apply to remote companies overseas. But, in 2020 the **a*demic started, the first “case” in Indonesia appeared at early March (not in the city where I live), and “lockdown” started in the city where I live at the end of April. My freelance project was on hold temporarily because of that. I was thinking for few a days and decided to take a break, it would be good to finally take some time to do it.

Maybe it was not totally career break (from tech) because I still have to give operational support sometimes for my previous freelance project and I tried to learn new technologies, so it was just break from daily professional coding.

These are some (not in particular order) short stories about what I did, learned, and realized during my career break.

Managing My Land

In 2019 I had a plan to buy land, and in December 2019 I bought a small land in the suburbs of Bandung, Indonesia. I decided the first activity in my career break was managing my land, because it was very neglected. At the end of this activity, I also planted some trees there. Actually I made a change on my plan for this land after everything I learn in this journey, but it was still a great experience.

Studying About Architecture And Civil Engineering

I had a plan to design my own house. Also, I don’t prefer rely on 3rd parties about the designing and building process. So, I tried to learn a little bit about architecture and civil engineering. It was not about structuring and building skyscrapers, I just wanna know about how to effectively design a good house, also about material used, worker effectiveness, and cost estimation.

Studying About Sustainable Living

I have always been interested in topics related to the environment. Living sustainable and self-sufficient has always been my goals. I learned about how people can live this life, growing their own food, gardening, zero waste, environmentally friendly life. Actually I still have some topics that I haven’t researched yet related to this stuff. For example about how to grow some specific plant or maybe how to make my own power plant, I saved it for later.

Studying About Nutrition

Food is very important to us, it’s basic need. I also believe about “you are what you eat”. Related to the previous section, I mentioned about growing my own food. I tried to research about what nutrients (in detail) we actually need, how much we need it, and from what it can be obtained from (at the most efficient).

Studying About Unschooling

In my research about sustainable living, I accidentally found the term “unschooling”. I knew mainstream schooling sucks, but I didn’t know this term exist, I only knew “formal mainstream school”, homeschooling, and not schooling at all. I know this is not for everyone and every profession, but I think this is a really cool way to get education, very efficient and still effective.

Thinking About Life And World

I was thinking about who I am and how I’m behaving, how I live this life, also about other people and about how this world system is running. I eventually realized this world system is literally messed up, and most of our way of life makes it will remain the same, or maybe make it worse. It’s hard to express what I mean, I will just explain it all (including my previous research) on my next side project.

Practicing English

My first purpose was just practicing English, but I was thinking it would be great if I could also find new international friends. I talked with a lot of people from many countries. Some of them were just short talk, some of them became my new friends, and there is a new friend that I eventually consider as family.

Family Time And Resting

Family time has always been my favorite. That’s why I also use my career break to get a lot of family time. Also don’t forget about resting when you take a career break. Take it as much as you want, whenever you want, without worrying about work.

Studying Everything Related to The **a*demic

After everything I read and watched, I really have doubt about this. It just doesn’t make sense for me. I don’t want explain it on this article, because this article will definitely labeled as “missinformation”, because it’s contrary to the mainstream narrative.

Et cetera

I actually did some research about other topics, experienced something else, and took a lot of red-pills, but I don’t think I can write all of them here.

Planning My Future Direction

As I have mentioned before, I’m a huge planner person. After I learned and realized something new, I was thinking I have to change my plan (a lot). This thing is deep, I can’t really think about this during an everyday hour work break or on the family time after work. So I used my career break also for thinking about this.

At the end of November 2020, my freelance project continued and I would say my career break was finished for 7 months. This month, the project will be finished, and my next plan is about preparing for my next job applications. Wish me luck! 😁

I got most of the pros of a career break except travel, because I don’t really like traveling. I learned and realized a lot of things, and it really shapes me and my future plan for the better. I also experienced some of the cons, but I don’t regret it, at all. I think as long as you prepare for it, a career break will always give you a positive impact.

It’s okay to take a break from the constant hustle. It’s one of many ways you can use to keep you sane.

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