I often take familiar or known words and use them in a slightly different context. The word for this post is Sabbatical. According to dictionary.com, my favorite source for defining words, a sabbatical is any extended period of leave from work, for the purposes of rest, acquiring new skills, or training. The period of time typically lasts longer than three weeks and many times involves leaving your job. Well, I don’t know about you guys, but thinking about the prospect of taking just a week off from work can throw me into a task-delegating, calendar-clearing frenzy. The idea of taking a prolonged break–by quitting my job, or taking unpaid leave–would definitely prove to be a challenge.
That being said, getting away from your daily routine is essential for creative and new thinking. It can also aid you with building skills, or simply refurbishing the existing routines in your brain. The concept of the sabbatical is to take an extended break in an effort to improve your health, recover from job burnout, develop new skills, or ponder on your objectives in life. This type of clarity can have enormous benefits if you focus on doing it.
So you probably don’t disagree with me and can probably visualize yourself on the beach with the umbrella drink in your hand. You are thinking – YEP, I need a sabbatical, but three or more weeks away, or resigning from my job are just not a part of my plan. What can I do instead?
Allow me to recommend the Power Sabbatical – like a “power nap,” the Power Sabbatical is a quick reset versus a hard shutdown. The steps for the power sabbatical are really easy:
Carving the time away – for many, this is the difficult part. I am also guilty of this and I repeatedly carry over the maximum number of PTO days into the next calendar year at work. Not because my employer restricts my time off, I just don’t take it. So if like me, you don’t like having a pile of work waiting because of many days off – then I recommend an extended weekend. Identify one of the minor holidays your employer offers and add a day to either side of it for a four day weekend. Or if you have dedicated all of your holiday time to family, then find a Friday, any Friday and take it off. Schedule your departure for Thursday evening and return Sunday afternoon. It is important to maximize every second of this power sabbatical, so plan to depart for your trip immediately after work and arriving home mid-afternoon the day before you plan to return to work.
Unplug from the matrix and go off the grid. This is your time once a year to reboot and does not include your family. Ask for permission from your significant other. Be fully informative regarding your location and how to reach you in case of an emergency, but the purpose of this time away is to be at one with yourself. Only take a pen and a journal. Leave your computer at home and once you have confirmed with your family that you have arrived safely, you turn off your cell phone.
Adapt to unstructured time. Planning a schedule for your time while on sabbatical – don’t do it! Just my opinion, but this should completely unstructured time. Resist the urge to have an agenda or an itinerary. The only thing I would recommend as an activity is rest. When I take my power sabbaticals I usually use the first day to sleep in and slow my brain down. After being well rested, I then carry my pen and journal everywhere I go and just jot down my thoughts, ideas, and important lists of things I feel I need to accomplish. I also like to travel to a resort with all of the amenities, removing the need to plan or coordinate my meals or exercise activities. I also enjoy walking in nature which stimulates my thoughts and allows me to more easily explore possibilities.
A sabbatical is a great way to recharge your mind. Some of my most significant accomplishments have been the result of my taking a sabbatical and really figuring out which direction I wanted to take my life next. I recommend you give it a try and good luck.