Sabbaticals… Critical or Impossible?

As a new school year rushes toward us, I find myself thinking more and more wistfully about the sabbaticals that tenured professors around me are either leaving for or just returning from. The idea of a full semester (or year!) to focus only upon a desired area of research or study sounds immensely attractive as I work on Fall Kick-off projects and see my calendar filling up with all those oh-so-familiar beginning-of-the-school-year activities.

But, sabbaticals aren’t just for academics anymore… or at least so suggests the Forbes article How to Take a Sabbatical From Work.     Buddist monk meditating by a waterfall

I was surprised to discover that you don’t have to be a tenure track professional to take a sabbatical these days. Writers at Fast Company explain How Taking a Sabbatical Isn’t As Impossible As It Sounds. One of the keys to achieving a successful sabbatical is being very deliberate in developing a plan for what you want to do and how you might apply what you learn or experience on the job once you return.

One valuable resource for sabbatical planners to consider is Dan Clement‘s book Escape 101: Sabbaticals Made Simple.   His book and website will outline many of the considerations for planning and taking a sabbatical and is a wealth of information with links to many of the resources needed to make such an endeavor successful.

Brazeau & Van Tyle in their article ” Sabbaticals: The Key to Sharpening our Professional Skills as Educators, Scientists, and Clinicians” (Am J Pharm Educ. 2006 Oct 15; 70(5): 109), advocate for shorter (1 – 2 month) sabbaticals time for perhaps developing new skills at other clinics or  specialized study of topics that could bring back value to the organization.  While this idea in and of itself is appealing, Michael Hyatt discusses a more personal benefit from taking regular extended time away from your daily life (he suggests 1 month) in his post: 5 Things I learned When We Got Away From It All.   I particularly resonate with the idea of extended time to recenter/recharge and refocus my time and talents on what is most important to me.

While I admit that I am not seriously planning to pitch a request to my boss anytime soon for a  year-long sabbatical from my job, I do attempt to regularly schedule mini-retreats for myself several times a year. Recently I have wrapped several additional days around a holiday weekend.  I deliberately do not plan any vacation travel during these times. Last month I discussed how I sometimes use this time for special projects (the garage or the ALA Biblioquilt), but I also plan a significant chuck of my time as non-scheduled and unplugged.  Time just to think, to pray, to study a topic of personal interest and to recharge for the challenges ahead.   While always too short, I find it motivating to know that another mini-break is only a month or so away as I rejoin my normal hectic schedule.  My next break?  Labor Day weekend.  Just the thought of that extended break will make August fly.

How about you?  When is your next chance to get away and recharge?  Even if you just  came back from a break, glance through the next couple of months on the calendar and make some plans… just having something to look forward to can make the hectic start to the school year more palatable.




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