Books to read and write, instruments to play, beanies to be made, countries to visit, meditations to be done and asanas to play around with. How big is your to-do-list and your bucketlist? Mine is long, very long. That’s why I am on a sabbatical. More or less a permanent sabbatical. Maybe you should have one as well, because there are a lot of benefits of a sabbatical.
I have a very bad habit: I always like to help people, so if something has to be done, I tell them they can count on me. In the end I always do what I promise, but sometimes it takes times. A lot of time, to much time. I do the same to myself: promise myself to do things, to read books, to learn to play guitar, to start focussing on handstands, to make my own beanie and I do it, but it can take years before I get started. I am just too enthusiastic about everything. Want to do everything, go everywhere, meet everybody.
Long bucket lists, long to-do-lists can get pretty frustrating. All this things you want to do, but never the time to do it. Working days are full. Travelling to and from working, working at least eight hours a day. Weekends can get ‘overbooked’ as well. I see it with people around me. With some I have ‘to book’ weeks in advance if I want to see them. Or I get a big list of the weekends they can and can’t meet up with me. So much for spontaneity.
And when you have some time, during a free weekend of a holiday, you’re just too tired to do what you always wanted or don’t feel like doing it. So when can you finally cross off some of those things on your bucket list?
A sabbatical gives freedom. A sabbatical gives you the time to work on that to-do-list. To finally rebuilt your house, do your garden, go to your dream island, read books and all those other things you wanted to do for ages. I’m on my third one.
My first sabbatical I took when I was 27 years old. I had no clue what to study when I finished pre-University so I decided to go and work. After my first practical the newspaper I did that practical asked me to come and work for them as an interim. For the next three years I combined a fulltime job, with freelance work in the weekend and a full time study. The moment I graduated the newspaper offered me a contract. I denied and booked a ticket to Australia. I had done a few interviews with backpackers and got really enthusiastic about it. Now my study was done this was my chance to go and see it with my own eyes. It was a trip that formed me for the rest of my life, teaching me some great lessons and I am still thankful I went.
My second sabbatical I took in 2007; seven years after returning from Australia. The newspaper I worked for then had to fire people to save money. It meant simple that I was going to get fired, but would still get six months of wages. It opened the door for me to go on another trip. This time to New Zealand, Tonga and San Francisco.
Another seven years have past and I’m on sabbatical number three. This time I have travelled Central America and studied Spanish; something that has been on my list for ages. My sabbatical will last for a while. Too much to do. I’m writing a manual for a Yoga Teacher Training, I finally want to finish the books I started, I want to make more yoga movies, do some work on this blog and read all those books I bought in the last few years and who are untouched on the bookshelf.
All these things will make me a better person, a better yoga teacher and a more focussed one, because I won’t be distracted anymore (especially during my meditations) by all the desires I have to do the things on my to-do-list.
Afraid to take a sabbatical
A lot of people are afraid to take a sabbatical. More precise to ask their boss for a sabbatical. Afraid to loose their job or to get a negative answer. If you search the net you will see that a lot of employers are positive about a gap year. They support their employees to do voluntary work or to ‘enrich’ themselves. Fred, a friend of mine, has had a few sabbaticals as well. The first one he used to travel Central America (he was one of the people who inspired me to go), the second one he used to learn all little things he always wanted to learn. He wanted to be able to type with ten fingers, so he did an online training. He wanted to know which music he should listen to when working to have his brain functioning better, so he researched and is now listening to Mozart. He read lots of books about being productive etceteras. All little things that made him a better employer.
A gap year is also a good time to destress. We live in a society where we have so much input by social media, by television, by all the things happening with us and around us. We also want to do everything, be everywhere. We wear ourselves out. A sabbatical gives us the option to recharge our battery. To sleep a bit more, to start a healthier lifestyle with better food, a better rhythm, maybe some yoga, so you feel rejuvenated again when you start working again; or for the rest of your sabbatical.