Sabbatical

Summer Hammock
Do you remember the joy and freedom of summer breaks from school? Throughout decades of work that started as a young teenager, until twelve years ago I had only taken two short breaks (five and six weeks) when my two daughters were born. I was longing for a summer break, or what working adults call a sabbatical. I considered buying a fifth week of vacation for two consecutive years and using those weeks back to back,at the end of one year and the beginning of the next year, to create a ten week sabbatical.

Instead, I left my corporate career and took a sabbatical before starting my business. Sleeping long hours the first two months and receiving comments about my refreshed and younger looking face made me realize just how exhausted I had become. The luxury of sleeping without an alarm clock, spending two months on a Caribbean island, and simply having nine months to do whatever I wanted rejuvenated not only my face, but my body, mind, and spirit.

I’ve been intrigued with the sabbatical stories I’ve come across this past year. Sebastien, a business owner, wanted to take six months off to travel with his girlfriend (and propose to her during the trip). His goal was to only work an hour a day. Although not a true sabbatical, it is a radical departure for a business owner. Sebastien’s mastermind group told him he didn’t have the proper team or systems in place to take the trip without blowing up his business. But that didn’t stop him. Instead, he put some systems in place, went on his trip, and danced around the world with his fiancé. It’s a beautiful story of being told no, but choosing instead to do what matters most. Watch this magical journey Travel the World.

Stephan Sagmeister’s TED Talk on “The Power of Taking Time Off” was intriguing. Sagmeister is a designer who closes his New York studio every seven years. He explains the often overlooked value of time off and how he and his employees take a year off to rejuvenate and refresh their creative outlook.

In an article, Zahra Ebrahim, the owner of a design studio, talks about the constant struggle between “loving to do” and “having to do”. Sagmeister’s story inspired her to implement a two-month Summer Sabbatical for the company. If you e-mail their studio during those two months, you’ll receive, in part, this reply:
We give our entire team the summer off to go on a creative journey, to rejuvenate, to reconnect to ideas that make them tick. It makes our work better, it makes our ideas richer, and makes our jobs feel more like dream jobs.

The diary-like book “Radical Sabbatical” was interesting. It’s about a high powered corporate couple who put their belongings in storage, rented their home, and moved to Costa Rica for a year. It’s an insightful book filled with numerous challenges and abundant lessons, including how to live with more ease on their planned return to Costa Rica.

Do any of these stories intrigue you? Inspire you? Make you want to take a sabbatical? What would it take for you to make it happen? From just a few stories, we have evidence that whether a business owner or employee, if the desire is strong enough – it can happen.

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