Ingredients for a Radical Sabbatical
August 29, 2012
— Freehand Life, gap year, Labor Day, radical sabbatical, rejuvenate, work burn out
Are you burned out? Has your non-stop schedule run you ragged? Have you been working sooo hard, for sooo long?
Although America’s upcoming Labor Day on September 3, 2012 celebrates the hard worker by creating one national day of rest, this writer dares the tired and the weak to go further by a taking radical sabbatical.
A sabbatical is taking a break from your usual grind to simply do whatever your whims inspire. Travel! Sit by the lake and meditate. Go work on an oyster farm. Volunteer in Tibet.
No, you don’t have to be rich. Yes, you can resume the “real world” of school and a standard job again. Yes, you can take a sabbatical with your kids. Some companies like Intel have a formal program where employees can receive 8 weeks of a paid sabbatical after 7 years of full time employment. University professors take sabbaticals as part of their professional development to deeply research and learn another area of study. Many Europeans take a gap year in between university, a popular practice originating the United Kingdom since the 196o’s.
Just ponder how much money people around the world spend on counseling and anti-depressant drugs to merely keep up in this hyper-connected world. Compare this cost to boldly embracing a sabbatical to deeply rejuvenate in any way you please.
It was easy in the Middle Ages when most peasants passed away by their thirties. With the average American life span now at 79.4 years, that’s a lot of hustling through school/promotions/openings/launches/kids, etc.
After fortunately indulging in two sabbaticals, below is my recipe for whipping up your own Radical Sabbatical.
Serves 1 or many
You will need:
- 1 Adventurous Spirit
- 1 Open Mind
- 1 Grateful Heart
- 1-3 goals
- 1 Rough Outline/Plan
- A chunk of savings
Preparation: Quiet and Rouse
Quiet your fears (ying). Rev up that innate adventurous spirit (yang). Remember when everything was possible as a kid vs. everything becoming a “trade off” as an adult? Dig deep into your inner strength. You should certainly assess the risks, but this can be a time to make a change based more on the opportunities.
Goal Creation: Commit and Document
Fully commit and document 1-3, attainable goals for your break. Goals are important for sabbaticals for one’s self-accountability and continued alignment to any bigger, long-term life goals. What will you be proud of at the end of the sabbatical? Is it to unplug? Perhaps it’s an educational sabbatical to learn something. To work at your dream business or apprentice for a complete new field? Wipe away those cob webs in the recess of your mind, and reintroduce yourself to hibernating dreams.
I combined travel and educational goals for both sabbaticals for 4 months internationally and 7 months domestically.
Piggy Bank: Determine and Build
Figure out the necessary financial enablement cash rate (ECR) for yourself or any other Sabbatical Side Kicks. How will your lifestyle change as you need to save up for the sabbatical or how you will live during the break? Build in buffer money for emergencies or that last minute train ride on the opposite track.
Outline: Whisk Together
Combine your goals with the ECR into one outline, sprinkled with logistics and a schedule. Adjust for transportation and lodgings for local, national, or international travel. The land, air, and sea can be your playground! Imagine enjoying a Vermont farm, Mexican hacienda, Tuscan studio, or Thai bungalow on the beach. No, you don’t have to replicate Eat Pray Love to trek across three countries in about one year.
If you have kids at an appropriate age, schedule the sabbatical during their school break (summer or year-round). The unglamorous “Life Administration” is part of standard responsibilities. Setup online bill payments. Adjust insurance to your new needs. Turn your static, plan-as a-noun into a constant verb by planning. Depending on your level of control needed, create an outline for an overall structure at a minimum. Let go and leave the unimportant details to serendipity. Simplify.
Fortify: Sail Forth
Fortify your determined verve! Your mind, heart, and finances are now organized. Things will change, but you can figure it out along the way. Just ask. Wave a hearty “Tootles!” to your current work/school/constant commitment(s). Don’t burn bridges. Know your rights and have a clear understanding of your commitments to the institution, if applicable. One of my prior employers allowed unpaid sabbaticals for up to 12 months, while people still maintained employee status. Your true friends will still be there when you return and you’ll certainly make new friends or lovers.
One of my favorite quotes is
Life isn’t about finding yourself, it’s about creating yourself.
Nothing is guaranteed on sabbaticals. What is certain, however, is that your purposeful break from the blah routine will reinvigorate your senses in new ways never imagined. Whether it is one month or one year, you won’t notice the difference until you’ve stepped away from the old environment for an extended period of time. Write. Draw. Bike. Cook. Sleep. Do as many things opposite to your old life.
Epiphanies and escapades will pop up like gophers. Allow your heart to be enveloped by gratitude. The transformation is like a flower finally being allowed to unfurl into its full grandeur. That’s not so radical after all, is it? Sabbaticals are simply natural.