The New York Times

When Being Unproductive Saves a Career

WITH HIGH LEVELS OF PRESSURE AND TENSION ON THE JOB, BURNOUT RATES AMONG NONPROFIT STAFFERS ARE RISING. THE ANTIDOTE? SABBATICALS.

Debra Suh had been a leader in domestic violence prevention for 16 years when she hit a breaking point about a decade ago. Balancing her emotionally charged work and her family had become untenable. She was considering leaving her beloved job as the executive director of the Center for the Pacific Asian Family, which she had held for seven years.

Her father had been the survivor of domestic abuse growing up and yet never hurt her — an experience that gave her a deep conviction that, with the right support, people can break the cycle of violence. But the toll the work took made her question whether she was the right person to keep providing that support. There were never enough hours in a day. She felt as if she couldn’t think clearly. In her head, she repeatedly wrote resignation letters.

Suh is not an anomaly in the nonprofit sector. According to the journal Nonprofit Quarterly, burnout rates in nonprofits have increased in the

This article originally appeared in .

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The New York Times

The New York Times4 min read
Why Soap Works
At the molecular level, soap breaks things apart. At the level of society, it helps hold everything together.
The New York Times4 min read
A Terrific New Thriller About a Mysterious Man and Rats. Lots of Rats.
We all know what it’s like to worry that something terrible has happened to a person we care about, as the hours pass, and there is still no word, and even implausible explanations (flat tire, broken phone) become increasingly unlikely. Plunging his
The New York Times4 min read
Writing a Family Memoir When Your Grandfather Was Stalin's Bodyguard
“Young Heroes of the Soviet Union,” by Alex Halberstadt, is a moving and often funny memoir about the author’s family and their history.