Why You Need to Take a Sabbatical! Part 1 - No Excuses and the Pre-Sabbatical Work Week
One of the best things that our family has done in recent years is take month-long road trips in an RV. Last year we did it for the first time with our then one and a half year old son. We have generally taken these in the summer and fall. They are wonderful times to experience new things, bond, and build incredible memories as a family.
Next week we are switching things up and heading to Central Oregon to spend the month of September in the town of Sunriver, which to us is a fairly magical place. The clear 4,000 foot high desert air, sunshine, miles upon miles of bike paths, pools, and world class fishing are just some of the reasons we visit this place. This trip will be a sort of test run of staying in one location for an extended period rather than being on the road in an RV. In the coming years we plan to repeat this over extended amounts of time in locations all over the world.
I am a huge believer in extended vacations, or as some may call them, sabbaticals. For my purposes here, I am going to define a sabbatical as being at least a month away from the routines of normal life and work.
There are many benefits to taking a sabbatical.
Over the next several weeks, while on our extended vacation I will be writing about the many benefits of taking a sabbatical on a regular basis, not just once in a working career, or once every 5-7 years.
It may seem counter-intuitive, but taking extended time off will nearly always increase your True Hourly Wage. If you take a month off this year, while last year you took off just two weeks, but make the same amount of money each year, you have obviously increased your true hourly wage.
No excuses allowed. Sorry.
Now I can hear those of you who work for employers, “Well Kyle, I’m happy that you can take extended time away, but you own a business. My boss won’t let me do that.”
Or, I can hear you business owners, “Well Kyle, that’s nice that YOUR business allows you to get away for an extended time. My business needs me and would crumble if I was gone for a week, let alone a month!”
Well, truehourlywage.com is an excuse-free zone. Here we choose not to play the victim card but instead dig deeper to see what is really possible.
To the employee.
It has been well documented, time and time again, that employees are able to negotiate extended time away. It really comes down to how much value you are providing to your employer in the hours that you work. If you are valuable and serve your employer well, you will be able to negotiate extended time away. Just do a quick Google search, “how to negotiate a sabbatical”, and you will find endless ideas.
You actually have the benefit over a business owner in that there are likely already systems in place at your employer, and other employees, that can perform your work while you are gone.
If your employer is not reasonable, doesn’t value you, or is closed-off to something like this, there ARE other tremendous employers out there that encourage this sort of thing and see the value it creates. Or, perhaps you need to consider starting your own business, maybe as a consultant doing what you already do so you can control your work days and hours. Don’t play the victim card.
To the business owners.
I have less sympathy for your excuses. Sorry. As business owners, we have tremendous control over how our work and the rest of our life interact. If you aren’t able to take extended time off, it means that you haven’t done a good job as a business owner in creating systems that support the life you want to live. Why do you have your own business if it is running you into the ground? Or maybe you don’t live far enough below your means and stepping away from your business for an extended time will hurt you financially. Your business should have the systems to run like clockwork while you are away and maintain your income. Don’t play the victim card.
The Pre-Sabbatical Work Week.
Think about a recent vacation you have taken. You HAVE taken one recently, right? Now think about the work week right before the vacation. My guess is that you crushed it in comparison to an average work week as far as your productivity and getting the most important things done.
For years, I have been blown away by how productive I am the week before leaving for a vacation. Or, put another way, I am blown away by realizing how unproductive I am the rest of my work weeks by comparison. The looming deadline of a vacation is a forcing mechanism that causes me to focus on the work that really matters and execute that work at a high rate of efficiency.
However, taking a week or two off just doesn’t have the same effect as a sabbatical (a month or more away). If I’m gone just a week, or even two, it is very easy to just push things off until I come back from vacation rather than being more proactive ahead of time.
Taking a sabbatical forces you to think about your work in a different way, causing you to make more permanent changes and improvements.
When taking a sabbatical, you can’t just push things off. You are forced to make permanent changes to your systems, to automate trivial things, and to prioritize the most important things. How will important work get done while you are gone? How much time, if any, will you spend on work while you are on sabbatical? What will this look like to ensure that you are not negating the value of your sabbatical to yourself or those you will be with?
Extended time away makes you think long-term. Fewer items can be simply deferred. Instead, they need to be deleted, automated, or delegated.
The week, or weeks before an extended time away will show you what you truly are capable of in your working hours. What if this was how you worked whenever you are “on the clock”?
The sense of urgency created by the looming sabbatical will show you how much value you can provide with your work time, which can then free up more valuable time away, which will then show you that you are capable of even more during your work time. It’s a wonderful cycle.
I will dive into additional sabbatical benefits in the coming weeks.
I wish you all the best as you strive to create greater value with your limited time.
Kyle Mast, CFP®