Ah, the days of the sabbatical.
For decades, sabbaticals were the holy grail, the shiny jewels for ambitious professionals working towards a well-deserved break from the commotion of everyday professional life. These employees would keep their nose to the grindstone with their eyes on the horizon, waiting for the pivotal moment (typically around year seven) when they’d be given the keys to their own life for a set period of time for the first time in almost a decade.
It’s safe to say that what used to sound like a great idea has now lost its luster. People no longer work for the possibility of a yearlong break from corporate life, or just to “make it” to retirement for that matter. We’re facing the reality that we only have one life - one that could potentially feel like a personal sabbatical… all the time. #woke
Or as Drake would say, YOLO.
Are you ready to live a life that past-you would be jealous of? What about a life that future you would be proud of? We have a few ideas about how you can get started.
7 ways to feel like you’re always on sabbatical leave
1. Slow down and adopt an optimistic mindset
The #1 thing that makes being on a personal sabbatical awesome? You’re not on anyone’s schedule but your own. Give yourself permission to wake up slowly, knowing that you have an entire day ahead of you to accomplish what you’ve set out to do. While this kind of autonomy and independence may not be the case in your “regular” life, you’re probably committed to a 9-5 schedule after all, that doesn’t mean that you can’t embrace that relaxed, positive mindset. The next time that you’re out for dinner and the service is slower than anticipated, remind yourself that you have nowhere else to be in this moment. If you haven’t received a response from a colleague to an important email, take a breath. Accept that life wasn’t meant to be lived at the speed of light. You were meant to experience it at a steady pace, just leisurely enough to appreciate its details and intricacies.
2. Take time to disconnect
How many times have you read that you aren’t supposed to sleep with your phone by your bed? We get it, we know that we’ve become overly-reliant on technology, yet we can’t seem to tear ourselves away. Time to fess up: is your phone still the first thing that you reach for in the morning? The last thing you touch before closing your eyes at the end of the day? If you want to make a major life change and embrace a more focused, passionate lifestyle, your tech should be put on the backburner. When you’re on a true vacation, stick to your assertion that you’re “out of office” and let incoming emails make themselves at home in your inbox. There will be time to get to those when you’re back on the clock. If you’re finally closing your laptop after a long day of work, don’t let your phone become the next thing you get sucked into. This leads us to our next point…
3. Be intentional with your free time
When you log off for the night, it can be easy to turn on the television and lose yourself in a new series or an old favorite. After all, you were just focused on work for eight hours (or more), you deserve to let your brain relax! It’s true, relaxation is a definite benefit of a sabbatical leave. However, what makes that time away from work so rewarding is the aspect of intention. You aren’t just letting the day take you wherever it pleases - you’re using your newfound freetime to follow a path toward a particular goal or dream. While you probably don’t have an entire day’s worth of free time to work with, block out an hour or two of your night, after your day job, to work on something that has deeper meaning for you.
4. Prioritize your passion
Your passion could be anything from practicing tai chi, to writing a novel, to starting your own side hustle - the beauty of it is that it’s up to you! Fill your free time with the activities that light you up inside, the things that you normally wouldn’t have made time for before you set out on this journey because they took too much effort, cost too much money, or took too much time. When you finally prioritize the things that you’re passionate about, you’ll find that what used to be forgettable weekdays have suddenly transformed into opportunities for growth and development.
5. Make an effort to learn every day
Even if you’re feeling a bit stuck at your 9-5, it’s important to open your eyes to the numerous possibilities to learn something new each and every day. On a sabbatical, you would have the time to take a class on a topic that you’ve been dying to dive into, read a book a day if you want, or follow an inspirational speaker around the world for a year, soaking in wisdom at every opportunity. (We’re not saying that we know someone who has done this, but we’re also not not saying it.) If you are working full-time, you probably don’t have that many hours at your disposal, but you can still make an effort to learn something every day on a smaller scale. Listen to a podcast from an entrepreneur that you admire or get your news from an article that’s longer than 280 characters.
6.Stop doing things you don’t want to do
If the examples that we mentioned above don’t appeal to you, then stop doing them. It’s pretty simple actually. Learning to say “no” to things that don’t serve you is just as important as learning to say “yes” to the things that will help you grow. If you spend five hours every weekend cleaning your home or your apartment instead of working on your side hustle, would it be possible to outsource those tasks to someone who does them professionally? If there is a local networking event happening soon, but you feel like you’ll make more genuine connections with people at an upcoming volunteer opportunity, then skip the more formal affair. Do what your intuition is telling you to do. In true sabbatical fashion, let go of your indecision: you’re probably overthinking it.
7. Join a work and travel program
Implementing each of these ideas into your life can seem intimidating and maybe even impossible. How can you possibly make time for each of the things that you’re passionate about if you have to commute to a corporate job and work a set schedule?
That’s where a work and travel program comes in. Participants work remotely (i.e.: not in the office) while traveling the world with a community of like-valued professionals. They often have the ability to make their own schedules so that they can work when they are most productive and use their free time to focus on the things outside of their professional life they’re passionate about. Work and travel programs present opportunities to grow each and every day, and encourage participants to take a step back and appreciate the diversity and beauty of the world.
Work and travel programs wrap all of the benefits of a personal sabbatical into an experience that will actually benefit your career, instead of putting it on hold.
When Drake said “YOLO”, we felt that. We’re no longer living in a society that asks us to put our noses to the grindstone for fifty years in the hopes of getting a chance to live the way we want to after the fact. With technology on our side, and a ticket to a work and travel program in our back pocket, we have the power to live our lives like we’re on sabbatical, every single day.