Friday, February 3, 2017

Sabbatical Year

Most of us are familiar with what it means to take a sabbatical—an extended break from our regular work. The word comes from the Biblical concept of working six days and resting on seventh, the Sabbath. This custom is popular in the academic community and it's gaining traction in the corporate world. I'm proposing that it also has a place in retirement.

When I told a colleague that I was writing a blog post about taking a sabbatical in retirement, she was confused. "Is that a pre-retirement toe dip or post-retirement temp job?" Another friend offered her opinion, "Retirement is one long sabbatical." Neither of these fit with what I'm envisioning. Instead, taking a sabbatical in retirement represents a mindset—a way to take a break from the pressure to figure out retirement."

It might seem like retirement is easy. What's so hard about not working? How can you be stressed out from 40+ extra hours in your week? But then, just like any major life transition, change is stressful. In retirement, it's easy to lose our sense of direction and meaning. If you're dreading the question, "What do you do?" try answering, "I'm on sabbatical." If this feels right, you know that you're on to something good.

How do you design a retirement sabbatical?

It depends on what you need. For some people, it's best to have no expectations other than to observe and be. No assignments. Sometimes, more than you expect comes from just being. One woman, who talked for years about writing a book about home organization, finally wrote the book during her retirement sabbatical. Not because it was an assignment, but because she freed herself to spend time doing whatever she desired. Just so happens that writing was what she was drawn to do.

Other people prefer to have a more structured framework for their retirement sabbatical. This includes identifying specific goals and outcomes for the year. If this describes you, then consider the following questions:

What do you hope to learn?
What questions do you need answers to?
What would you like to accomplish?
What would you like to discover?
Where would you like to be by the end of your sabbatical?

When you grant yourself a sabbatical, you're giving yourself permission to take time to understand this next stage of life. And by giving it a timeframe, there's an expectation that you'll return to a "new normal" after a period of time.

A happy retirement isn't one long sabbatical, just as it's not one long vacation. Instead, it's a break now and then to reexamine, find your way, and make a fresh start.

Your sabbatical has been granted.
Enjoy. Be. Thrive. Grow.

Copyright 2017. Patrice Jenkins. All Rights Reserved.

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