Sabbatical: It’s a perk that you can count on if you are a college professor, but it’s a rare benefit for anyone else in today’s marketplace. Yet, we all need such a break in our work lives to remind us of what is truly important and to renew our commitment to our work in the world.
While the traditional definition of sabbatical is “a prolonged hiatus, typically one year, in the career of an individual taken in order to fulfill some goal”, it originates from the word, “Sabbath” meaning simply, a day of rest.
Adopting this more basic meaning, it is reasonable to imagine that everyone could take sabbaticals, and on a regular basis, to restore what author Wayne Muller refers to in his book, Sabbath, as “our right rhythm of work and rest.”
Over the years, I’ve worked with hundreds of individuals and encouraged most of them to take time off as they contemplate their career transitions or consider new strategies in their businesses. Typically, my suggestions were first met with a fearful resistance that results from a life too full to consider new possibilities.
But, after the litany of reasons why time off is not possible, there is sometimes a small space left for an alternative viewpoint. Seeing this opening as a window of opportunity, I begin to gently make suggestions for simple ways to regain a balance and rhythm of life that would serve them well in their transition.
Think small steps, with big impact.
“You will find yourself again in the simple and forgotten things”,
these words of Carl Jung reinforce the notion that getting back to center does not require an elaborate or costly scheme, often equated with the word sabbatical. Jung’s quote reminds us that we can reconnect with what is essential by taking actions that, in their simplicity, may be overlooked, dismissed or considered insignificant.
Here are a few ways you can incorporate the concept of sabbatical into your work and life. Be aware of taking breaths in and out while doing this exercise:
Find a few minutes of alone and quiet time to ask yourself what you need to feel renewed. Let your responses come from your heart or the center of your being, rather than from your mind.
Try not to edit your responses or begin to problem-solve as to how you can or cannot make this happen in your life at this time.
Identify what is at the core of your response (e.g. is it about physical rest, quiet time, or connection with someone important to you?).
Come up with one step you could take within one week to address this core need and put it on your calendar as you would another important commitment.
Over the next year, try to extend the periods of time you allocate for this type of exercise.
Consider planning a vacation around your needs, asking the question: what type of vacation