Friday, August 5, 2016

How to Take a 'Working Sabbatical'

How to Take a Sabbatical While Still Working

By Kathleen Lisson

Some of these tips were recently featured on the Everup article 'How to Mimic a Sabbatical When Leaving Your Job Isn't an Option.' Read that article here:

Want the life-changing benefits of a sabbatical without the career-derailing effect it may have on your resume? Consider a 'working sabbatical' - taking a few months for self development while still working. 

I will share three steps for making the most out of a ‘working sabbatical.’ The first step to having a successful working sabbatical is finding the true reason for investing in some me-time. This can be done either with a partner or alone. The second step is setting SMART goals for the semi-sabbatical. The third step is adding practices into daily life that encourage effective use of spare time to achieve the goals uncovered in steps one and two.

The first step is revealing one’s true intentions for the working sabbatical. Try this 3-4 minute technique my meditation students use on the first day of class.

The speaker sits comfortably facing the listener. The listener asks “what can you gain from a sabbatical?” The speaker answers while the listener is silent and supportive. Once the speaker is finished talking, the listener says “Thank you. What can you gain from a sabbatical?” and the process of asking and answering continues for the next few minutes. Though it may feel uncomfortable to the speaker, when he/she is given the space and time to talk, deeper reasons may come to light.

The technique for doing this solo involves a journal, pen and timer. Start by writing the prompt ‘What can I gain from a sabbatical’ in the page and set the timer for 3-4 minutes. The trick to this technique is that the writer should not stop writing the entire time, even if he/she has to write the same sentence over and over while thinking. While in the moment it may feel ineffective, the process of continuous writing may allow deeper truths and needs to be revealed.

Secondly, transform those objectives into actions by setting SMART goals. Make sure goals are stated in the present tense and are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely. For instance, “I am reading one book a week to inspire my creativity in July, August and September.”

Thirdly, implement these three ways to mindfully open more time in a busy schedule.

  • Go on a media fast. This tip works two ways - by both finding extra time in each day and offering insight into how automatic social media interaction has become. Schedule a block of time every day where TV, computers and smartphones are turned completely off.

  • Focus on one task at a time. Multi-tasking is ineffective, as anyone who ever jumped on the internet to check their email ‘really quick’ and found themselves surfing news websites a half hour later can attest. If other tasks come to mind while working on something, write them down on a to-do list and refocus on the current project.

  • Slow down to the body’s rhythm. Busy-ness is rampant in America. It seems everyone has an overflowing inbox, pile of unread books on their nightstand and endless to-do list. Find a way to step away from the flurry of thoughts and into the peace of stillness by beginning a meditation practice. After a few minutes of silently watching the breath, obligations will still be waiting, but there may be an increased ability to focus on handling them with a new sense of calm and peace. If sitting still is difficult, try walking a labyrinth instead. A list of labyrinths can be found here:

Learning how to balance work and the opportunities of a working sabbatical can result in reaching personal goals as well as developing the skills needed to carve time out in a busy schedule to take care of what is most important. The working sabbatical taker can reap the rewards from both of those gifts for years to come.

Kathleen Lisson is a certified Meditation Teacher and Labyrinth Facilitator and teaches Meditation and Mindfulness at IPSB college in San Diego. Sign up for a private meditation lesson in the comfort of your home here:

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