It’s gonna be a long one, but might be worth the read for you guys interested what I am going to talk about.
I have many times heard of the term, but never got to really understand what sabbatical is all about before I saw Stefan Sagmaister TED Talk. That single talk made so many changes in the way I view life and work. You guys should check it out.
Sabbatical is where you take a period of time off from work, to go and do something new, for ultimately the benefit of your work and life.
I have done two sabbaticals so far, and might be able to give a few insights on how to do one. What it is, what it is not, and a few tips in between.
A sabbatical is not a vacation
On vacations you are allowed to become the sloth you always dreamed of. Wake up late, eat breakfast, sleep some more, take a dip in the pool, eat lunch, play Draw Something, sleep some more, go shopping and sight-seeing, repeat. Your mind is resting, very relaxed. You’re not recommended to bring work or any work related material. Not so with a sabbatical.
A sabbatical is a time to be still, to hear, to find out.
People are busy. The world is busy. If you live in a big modern city, over time, routines and the demands of modern business can degrade your quality of life and work. It’s a lot like driving very fast without knowing where you are going and even if you do, not knowing whether you will like the final destination or not.
A sabbatical is a time to stop driving, pull over, and check out the map, and see where you’re going.
This has to be a concious effort. You must make a list of questions to be answered. Make the list in your head. If you make it written, even better.
Few questions to get started:
Am I happy?
Am I going somewhere?
Am I a better person than I was a year ago?
What is ‘a better person’?
Am I living my own life?
Or I am just competing with others?
What matters most in my life?
Is money very important for me?
Or is it time? Love?
What is my dream?
What is it that I am good at?
How can I be smarter?
Have I lived for other people?
How can I contribute more in my current work?
Is the place I am working at the best place for me now?
Am I a lazy bastard?
What is the one thing that I want to accomplish in life?
Start to write down the answers to these questions, and you might be surprised at what you dig up.
A sabbatical is a time to do personal work
Got that short movie in your head that you always wanted to do? Or the photography project about the children of Jogja? Or an album with just the sounds of nature? Plan it on your sabbatical. Working for yourself has always been the greatest type of work. No clients to heed, no boundries other than those you set yourself. Make it difficult. Make it challenging. See how much you are willing to go when there’s no cheque paid to you. Only then you can find your true love.
Go somewhere foreign
Foreign here is not talking about outside the country, but about going somewhere that is not in your usual nature. You’re a city folk? Go to small towns. Live in the mountains? Try a beach community. Talk a lot in your job? Go where there’s few people to talk to. Cannot live without Twitter? Try no signal regions. You’re a church activist? Try living in a total Muslim community.
Getting outside your usual habitat will make you see what you might never seen. Learn things that you will never learn in you daily atmosphere.
And boy do those experiences are so very-very valuable. You’ll be wiser. You will respect others more. You’ll be a lot nicer person to be with.