Claim Your Sabbatical
Taking a meaningful stretch of time to rest and regroup may sound irresponsible, but the goal isn't to become a couch potato or shirk your responsibilities. The point is to take stock, dream big, and move your life forward. While it’s possible to do this within the framework of a full-time work schedule, the long-term merits of unstructured, self-directed time are undervalued. How can we develop personal leadership and discover our potential if all our time is spent juggling other people's escalating demands?
Consider the possibilities if you take the leap! You might discover a new perspective or tap into your innate creativity. Or you could dust off your bucket list and try something daring while you’re still agile. Maybe you could just enjoy a breather from the rat race long enough to de-stress from the daily grind. Better still, you might develop a skill or start a business that rounds out your life.
But don’t take my word for it! Read the bios of those below whose sabbatical opened new doors of opportunity:
Pamela Mitchell founded The Reinvention Institute after re-imaging her own career. Post college and a stint in finance, Pamela quit her job and navigated a career break to emerge as a sales and marketing professional. When she was laid off in 2011, she decided to open her Miami-based institute. She offers her insights to other change agents in her book, The 10 Laws of Career Reinvention.
Blake Mycoskie is a serial entrepreneur, bestselling author, and former reality show contestant. In 2006 he founded TOMS, a shoe company that gives away a pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair sold. Blake discovered this business idea during a vacation to Argentina. In his 2011 book, Start Something That Matters, Blake described how he took time to recharge even though his then business was in a crucial stage of development. To date, TOMS has donated over 70 million pairs of shoes to children in need.
Robin Bylenga used a job layoff as an opportunity to pursue her passion for cycling. A temp job at a bike store was the first step in creating a new business – Pedal Chic. Her boutique provides a bike shopping experience for women, offering everything from apparel to advice.
Harper Lee published her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, in 1960 and her work was adapted into an Academy Award-winning film in 1962. The novel, which explores issues of racism and discrimination, garnered Harper lifelong commercial success and accolades including the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2007. Harper developed her novel during a sabbatical in 1957. Prior to writing her acclaimed narrative, she was an airline ticket agent for eight years.
J.K. (Joanne) Rowling wrote the Harry Potter book series, which has sold more than 400 million copies and inspired one of the highest grossing film series in history. The book idea came to Joanne in 1990 when she was delayed four hours on a train trip. She finished writing the first Harry Potter book in 1995 while unemployed.
Michelle Lam took a break from her corporate career in 2011. Her search for something new led her to solve a problem and fill a niche. In 2012, she launched True & Co, an online bra store that helps women find the perfect fit. With her co-founder, Michelle developed a quiz that assesses common fit challenges and matches women with a personalized selection of bras.
I hope these true tales of the power of rest inspire you to start planning your sabbatical today! Explore these resources for more information:
Stefan Sagmeister’s The Power of Time Off
The Center for Interim Programs
Can I Afford to Take a Sabbatical?
How to Plan a Sabbatical-Style Career Break
Those ‘Gap Years’ Aren’t Just for Students
Companies That Offer Sabbaticals to Employees
Road Trip Nation
Photo credit: Tiffany Millner/AUX Collective