A major health scare in my family forced me to question some of the norms, including the one that you must work until you're 65 and then take a break. I wondered if engineering my own sabbatical-style break much sooner were possible. Surprisingly, I discovered that not only is it possible, but it’s also easy to summarize the process in five simple steps.

Now, I realize my break is longer than most people can (and need to) take off, but whether it's three months or two years, the process remains the same. Also note that an extended career break requires serious thought and careful inspection of the motivations. Let’s assume here that you know the why and keep our focus on the how.