Ever wondered what you could do during your career break?
The term Sabbatical is actually derived from a biblical term , the “Sabbath”, which the Lord commanded this people to rest to recharge and recover from the week’s labour. Traditionally, Sabbaticals were the sole privilege of University Academics and Christian Ministers who take an entire year off to rejuvenate after all the hard work put in. However, in today’s context, many people are starting to realise that such ‘career breaks’ can actually be helpful to one’s mental balance.
Some mid-career executives I know have taken such ‘mini-sabbaticals’ that last anywhere from 3 months to up to a year. Often, these lucky folks take these breaks whilst between jobs. What to they do during this period? Here are some ideas:
- Recharge their batteries. Many who are on shorter breaks just choose to chill out and relax. Depending on the size of their bank account, they may choose to go on a short trip, on several short trips, or a really long one. A candidate of mine took 6 months to backpack across Europe with his wife. Another spent the summer in Paris taking up a Le Cordon Bleu course in baking. Trips like these help refresh your mind and give you a chance to pause and reevaluate your own life and career direction.
- Retool. Sometimes, career-breaks are not voluntary. If you have been retrenched or have resigned without a job in hand, you could have been thrust into a situation where you have a lot of free time on your hands until the next opportunity comes along. This might be a good time to reflect on the reasons for your retrenchment. (See the chapter on Handling Retrenchment in my book, Career Crossroads). If you feel that you no longer desire to be in your industry or function and want to try something new, this could be the ideal opportunity for you to retool and learn new skills. What skills, you might ask? Well, it could be new professional skills like “Financial Analysis”, or “Marketing/Sales 101” where you can expand your skill-sets and venture into new roles. Or it could be new personal skills like cooking or balloon-animal-sculpting – solely for your own enjoyment.
- Reconnect. This is probably the first time in a long while you don’t have crazy deadlines to meet or nasty bosses/clients breathing down your neck, so it’s a great opportunity to meet up with old buddies from work or from school! You could take this as part of your ‘networking exercise’ to see whether any opportunities could arise from these old friends. A friend of mine took a 3 month sabbatical to spend time with his elderly mother. He actually put his job on hold and flew himself and his entire family back to his hometown to spend time with his mom who had broken her arm in a nasty fall. “It was the best time of my life” he added.
- Reflect. Having so much free time on your hands may drive you nuts, so, keep your mind busy by figuring out what you really want in life. For the first time in forever, you do not have you mobile phone ringing off the hook or your emails beeping in your pocket, so you can afford several uninterrupted afternoons by the poolside reflecting on your life goals, priorities, and future strategy. Take your time to consider each option and craft your own roadmap. I guarantee you it will be a fun exercise to do.
- Reset. Let’s face it – you have no more excuses. No more “But I don’t have time…” or “I have to get up early tomorrow” excuses to procrastinate your workout. Set some physical goals and whip yourself back into shape. Losing pounds doesn’t just improve your looks, it also reduces your health risks, so please get healthy during this period! You might even want to invest in a personal trainer who can design a good training program suited to your goals – they aren’t cheap, but they sure are effective!
So, keep yourself busy during your much deserved Sabbatical!! Good luck!