After working as a divorce lawyer for 12 years, Lisa Angel needed a change from the rigors and emotions of the job. So when her firm announced a paid sabbatical for employees who had been there five years or more, she was the first to raise her hand.
"It was the perfect time to take a break and reassess," says Ms. Angel of Raleigh, N.C. "I walked away from my life for a while." That decision led to a three-month sabbatical, biking alone in China and Southeast Asia. She even studied meditation in a Buddhist monastery in Thailand. "I wouldn't have been able to do that on a normal vacation," she says.