I have been granted a six-week sabbatical off from work. It is a strange feeling to have all this time ahead of me. I hope this break will be refreshing and an opportunity to switch off.
Fully disconnecting from work amplifies the role of work in one’s life. In any social setting, people make admiring comments about people that don’t have to work or that can take a break such as this one. I do of course agree that it is a great privilege to be able to take this time off. However, having this time off, it becomes clear that work fulfils a greater purpose in one's life than we would normally acknowledge in our day-to-day conversations. It gives structure and offers purpose. A job offers a space that makes you feel needed and wanted. Working also offers the opportunity to ‘give back’. Even though not every type of work is about a good cause but generally, one gives something of oneself at work. We normally try to ‘give our best’ and whatever our jobs may be, giving the best, means we are giving something. As much as a short break is always welcome, a longer break might cause the worry about one's purpose at the workplace. I do think it is a sobering exercise for me. At the workplace, every person is replaceable, and the world will not stop turning if I am not there. I think it is a key exercise for any professional to cut off 100% from work from time to time. It brings perspective.
Another interesting observation for me during the first few days is about time itself. I have all this time ahead of me, yet I am worried I will not have enough time. Enough time to relax and enough time to do all the things that I planned to do. Instead of just immersing myself into this beautiful time and taking every day as it comes, I worry. I want to exercise, read, write, research, meet people, get all my admin stuff out of the way and, of course, just relax and do nothing. The fear to not maximise the time I have off, takes away some of the beauty of just having time. However, now on day four, I am already easing into my time off.
I encourage anyone who has time off to ponder the following:
- Press the reset button
- Interrogate what is important in life
- Check-in with your priorities
- What are these things you ‘always wanted to do’ but never got around to?
- What do you want to change in your day-to-day life?
- Who are the special people in your life and how have you been relating to them lately?