Why You Should Take a Career Sabbatical: Guest blog post on the hugeYesisYes blog
(First published on yesisyes, March 2012)
How many times have you been sitting in your office with a full in-tray, an annoying boss asking you to churn out yet another meaningless monthly report and what with yesterday’s cuppa soup staining your desk, all the while dreaming about joining an art retreat in the Tuscan foothills?
Well, the good news is that these day dreams don’t merely have to be confined to your private journal or Pinterest board. In less time than you’d think, you could be sitting in on that artist’s retreat. The bad news is that it is going to take a bit of saving, a lot of motivation and a healthy dose of courage. What I am talking about is a career sabbatical. And no, it is not just for dreary old university professors. The term Sabbatical stems from the Hebrew ‘Sabbath’ and means a period of rest. A sabbatical could be: A creative “time out” in Europe,the Pacific or in Asia at a writer’s, artist’s or spiritual retreat Traveling and backpacking through South America and teaching as you go along Embarking on a new course of study whether an MFA or MBA in another country to prepare for a career change Learning something new for free in your own time and online,just for the hell of it Undertaking some kind of volunteer charitable project on another continent or even in your own home town or country . Why should you take a break? You will never regret it We always regret the things that we don’t do in life, rather than the things we did. It may take a while to save up for that time out you’re planning, but you don’t need to squander your life savings. Take lunch from home, invite friends for dinner instead of eating out, do a few extra jobs (check classifieds section of your local paper), do overtime at work, sell your car, sell old clothes at a yard sale, sell old gadgets on EBay, do private tutoring. Whatever it takes to save up to make your sabbatical planing REAL. You will join the ranks of countless others who take regular sabbaticals to rejuvenate, think or be inspired again: Bill Gates took a twice-yearly “Think Week” to read technical papers. Australian actor and Avatar star Sam Worthington is also taking a time out. And no matter what you think of her book, ‘Eat, Pray,Love’ AuthorElizabeth Gilbert also took a career and life break and wrote a best-selling book about it. You will learn to be assertive, trust your instinct and forget about material possessions: Taking the plunge to follow a dream or to simply have an adventure, is something that gives you one luxury that the daily grind cannot: TIME. By having the time to figure out what you want and who you are, you’ll open your mind and heart to new experiences. You’ll realize that what you’re doing is what is RIGHT for you at that particular point in your life, without having to justify it to your partner/parents/friends. You may meet the love of your life When you have nothing to fear and are pursuing what you really want to, in a completely neutral place, away from the reminders of life in your home town, then who knows, your Mr. or Mrs. Right may be right under your nose! It will enhance your job prospects rather than put a dent in your resumé One of the greatest fears we have (I know I did) in NOT pursuing a career break or sabbatical is because of how “it could look” to prospective employers upon your return home (if you ever return). Here is a sure fire way to “cover the gap” on any resumé for a career sabbatical: Career Sabbatical X DATE – Y DATE Achievements/Experiences/Proficiencies (Then depending on what you did, state the experience then the achievements/skills underneath) Travel and teaching English abroad: List all countries and conversational language skills learned or utilized Inter-cultural proficiency and language skills ability to interact with and understand people from a range of cultural and ethnic backgrounds Taught X language or other course to a group of X children/adults in a remote, underprivileged community, prepared and researched the curriculum and managed core team of __Volunteer work: List organization and website Project Management and Team-building skills: Led a large scale development/cultural management/engineering/architectural project with a team of X in X country for X charity or aid agency with a budget of __ and a team of __ ; managed and negotiated meeting outcomes/goal setting and tracked project progress with stakeholdersManagement and Team Building: Taught X language or other course to a group of X children/adults in a remote, underprivileged community, prepared and researched the curriculum and managed core team of __ Foreign language course studies: State which language, level attained, school and location studied, website of college or university, copy of certificate Language proficiency: Significantly improved verbal, reading, writing, listening and social understanding skills in X, Y language/s through intensive language tuition at X school to X level, and home stay experiences Artist’s /Writer’s/ Spiritual retreat: State where undertaken, specific focus of retreat e.g painting, fiction writing, yoga ashram Lateral thinking, adaptiveness and tolerance: through artistic/writers/spiritual retreat, greatly enhanced writing /visual communication/patience/positive psychology skills through intensive contact with other course participants from X;Y continents Produced X,Y work (STATE outcome e.g draft novel, sculpture/ painting/art exhibition, yoga instructor qualifications focusing on diabetes/obesity etc ) Repeat this in an the interview, emphasizing that through these life-changing experiences, you’ve increased your personal leadership skills, enhanced team work capabilities, and strengthened inter-cultural communication and ability to work with and better understand people from different social and cultural backgrounds. Don’t forget to include names and contacts of references from your time abroad! So there you have it – a way to take a break from career or life, have an adventure and come back even more employable than before you left. What a no-brainer! Have you ever taken a career sabbatical? What did you do and where did you go?