When was the last time that you felt refreshed and restored, ready to take on whatever the day threw at you?

Maybe you feel that way once a week—say, when you actually get a good night’s sleep. Or maybe you feel that way when you actually spend a weekend and don’t have to work. Or perhaps you feel that way when you get a vacation day or two off. 

Unfortunately, though, most people don’t really give themselves the chance to feel better after a vacation, because they aren’t taking that vacation. They’re leaving not just one or two, but multiple vacation days on the table, year after year—and more and more every year.

You might feel the lack of vacation in how you feel—you’re stressed, you feel unsatisfied with your life, you’ve been working a long time. But sometimes you’re in a deficit that you can’t make up, and that’s because the number of days we’re leaving on the table as unused vacation keeps stacking up.

In fact, we left over 660 million vacation days at work in 2016, an increase of over 4 million days.

There’s a solution that might feel too far out there for you, but it’s one you might want to give more serious thought to. It’s called a sabbatical.

Many people are familiar with a sabbatical in academic circles; it’s often when a long-time, tenured professor takes a year “off” in order to complete a research project or dive into something bigger, like writing a book. In general they are often paid for that sabbatical time, or they raise money to pay for their time off.

But sabbaticals aren’t limited to just the academic world. You, too, can coordinate with your work to take an extended leave—say, several weeks or a month or two—and return to your original position. You may have to take it as unpaid time, but the policy could benefit both you and your employer.

For example, you may take the time simply to hit the reset button and to reboot your creativity and your productivity. You may travel somewhere and bring back new and inventive ideas for your work. And your work will reap the benefits.

In all honesty, leaving vacation on the table isn’t good for you and it’s not good for your employer, either. So how do you tackle the idea of a sabbatical? This graphic helps you understand the ins and outs.

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