Sabbatical 3/3

Three Top challenges for a meaningful Sabbatical and how to deal with doubts
Your top 3 challenges in living a fulfilled and meaningful sabbatical are:
Not being clear.
Not being focused.
Not being relaxed.
“Relaxed?” you might ask. Indeed, if you are clear and you are focused, then there no need not to be relaxed. Tensing up will not help you. Becoming dull, lazy or mindless is not being relaxed. Chilling out is not being relaxed. You can pursue a meaningful life while being relaxed – without hammock and beer. Relaxed means not being stressed. Not being stressed means balancing your capacity with your tasks. As if your life depended on it.
Of course you have doubts and concerns. “What do you mean “my first day back in the office”?” I hear you say. Maybe you are not sure what you want to do after this. Maybe you don’t even know what to do with this. So you learn Spanish eventually and then what? You live in Hong Kong, work for an Australian company, go to Thailand on vacation and love Japanese food. True, you can read Paulo Coelho in any language. But there is more to life than just functioning – I reckon. Share your concerns with others and talk about your doubts. The answer might lie in the way you feel about things when you hear yourself talking. If you are looking for a wholesome journey, then start by tuning in to yourself – as a body and mind experience. Ticking off boxes, fulfilling tasks and reaching set targets will often not make you  happy if your heart is not in it.
One more thing: Document your journey in some way!
You don’t need to have an agency working for you nor do you need to have your own blog, Facebook page or twitter account dedicated to your sabbatical experience. However, documenting your experience in some way or another will be helpful. It helps you reflect on you aspirations and adjust towards your goals if needed. It also helps you learn and develop a sense of achievement. Furthermore, while documenting your experience you will know if your heart is still in it – if the sabbatical carries your signature.
If your documentation enables feedback from friends and family or other followers, you can use this to help you stay focused and aware. Journal or reflect on your time spent ongoingly. Do not wait until the time is up or even worse postpone reflection to a later future stage. The learning and adjusting must happen while it happens: in the here and now! What you do later on can be done in addition.
Sabbatical being an amplified concept of life as such!

Sabbatical 2/3

Know your distractions as if your life depended on it!
So you take time off work and want to make the best out of it? Be mindful of some of the things that might hinder you making the most out of your time. Knowing your distractions can help you to steer clear.
Reflect back on last week. Where and how did you spend time on activities that were not in sync with your aspirations? Now ask yourself: did you make a conscious decision to spend time on those activities? And did you stick to that time? You will find that very often this is not the case. You need to develop the awareness of where you put your focus of attention and then having the courage to remember what you actually wanted to do. This as the ultimate path to being satisfied with your sabbatical in particular and your life in general. Funny enough, the same basic principle as applies to simple awareness of breathing exercises and other mindfulness practices.
Being effective – The courage to remember
Having the end in mind is essential for your mental balance and in order to formulate aspirations which can guide you day by day and week by week. Only the definition of clear and measurable intentions enables you to keep track of your course. Clear goals – like “I want to read one chapter of a book per day” or “I want to run 30km per week” – are measurable and achievable yet give you the freedom of how you allocate your time within a day or a week.

Sabbatical 1/3

How to be effective in Doing Nothing
A client of mine decided beginning of this year to ask her employer for a six months sabbatical and received the approval. Since then I am more aware of the topic and the implications that come with it. Most people want time off work because they sense that they need change of some sort and they somehow feel that they hadn’t addressed certain areas in their lives in a way that fully represented their values, i.e. spending time with family. (I hope that I am clear by writing vague enough)
Setting the targets
The more you are clear about how you want to spend the time and what you want to achieve during your time off work, the more fulfilling and meaningful will your experience become.
You want to ask yourself, how you will know that you have spent the time worthwhile? What will people close to you notice about you during the time and afterwards? How will the time rub off on you personally and professionally?
Be cautious of trying to do too much. Is it realistic to learn Spanish, sailing the world with family and explore new business ideas at the same time within 6 months? Discuss the feasibility of your targets with the people around you.
Before you throw yourself into “Doing absolutely nothing” or “Finally doing what you always wanted to do” it helps a lot to identify: what are your biggest fears with regard to the time off work? What would it mean to you, if those fears come true? How will you feel? Whom can you confide in? And then apply an attitude of gratitude to these fears. What happens to your fears when you see the time that you have as a gift and also a responsibility? What do you wish to receive from the world around you? And what do you want to give back?