Why Not Take a Sabbatical?

Why Not Take a Sabbatical?

Feeling tired, burnt out and counting down the days to your three weeks of annual leave to rest and recharge before returning to repeat the work cycle for another year? Whether you feel that you’re stuck in a work rut, watching the days roll by at the office at the expense of your own personal growth and happiness or you simply feel like hitting the road and seeing the world, it’s time for a sabbatical. Based on our own experience, we are here to walk you through preparing for your departure.

STEP 1: Work Up the Courage to Defy Convention

Whatever your age, job title or level of experience, there is never going to be a “good time” to leave the workplace and put that carefully carved career on hold. There will always be the next project lined up or deal to be negotiated. That next promotion you’ve been putting in all the man hours for will always be around the corner. Furthermore the doubts that you have about deciding to drop out of the rat race will only be escalated by the criticism leveled against you by others. At present society’s norms do not include avoiding general responsibilities and choosing a care-free life path. Your decision is making people assess their own lives and that makes them uncomfortable. That being said, you’re about to meet a lot of open-minded people along your journey who fully support your endeavor.

STEP 2: The Only Thing Stopping You, is You

Don’t chicken out. Now that you’ve decided to make a change and end life as you know it, you’ve taken a good hard look at life as you know it and decided that maybe it isn’t too bad. Sure you hate waking up at 5am to sit in traffic for two hours every morning in the quest to arrive at the office on time, but being early means that you get to be the first to climb into the free chocolate muffins provided. Sure you’re exhausted of flying from one city to another for business meetings because your dinosaur of a boss refuses to conduct a virtual conference call from his laptop, but you do get to accumulate frequent flyer miles on your credit card. Yes you’re forced to stay late at the office even though there is nothing urgent on your desk, but you can use the time to meaninglessly scroll through Facebook or do some online shopping. Don’t chicken out!

STEP 3: Get Organised

This step will keep you awake at night. The more things you put in place, the more things you’ll realise still have to be put in place. Our advice is to give yourself ample time and go old school by creating lists. Aside from planning a wedding in Mozambique which had its own set of stresses, it took us months of organising to adequately prepare for our first trip in which we overlanded through Southern and East Africa. Resigning from our jobs and finishing up at work proved to be the easy part. Securing tenants for our properties, kitting out our vehicle and sourcing all the necessary camping equipment that we would need was a bit more challenging. We also had a full set of vaccinations done and spent many hours at municipal offices, banks and government departments getting all of our paper work, finances and taxes in order. Furthermore, organising and planning to head off into the unknown, while exciting, can also be very daunting. You are taking yourself out of your safe routine and comfort zone which is bound to evoke emotion. Acknowledge your feelings and be kind to yourself. 

STEP 4: The Hardest Part is Letting Go… Of All Your STUFF

We could never have imagined that a one bedroom apartment in Cape Town could hold so much STUFF. Gary did about four runs to charity with a fully loaded vehicle. On one hand it was therapeutic to do a clean out and get rid of so many things that had led a forgotten existence at the back of a cupboard. However, while you might not be consciously aware of it, your emotions at this time are running high. As human beings, we are naturally adverse to change and we found ourselves refusing to let go of the most arbitrary objects. An old favourite t-shirt that you have no intention of ever wearing again or Christmas decorations that could easily be replaced. We eventually gave in and decided to put a locker in the bedroom cupboard to stash away all of our worldly belongings. Gary’s hoarding needed to be monitored though as I would find him trying to sneak in items such as cycling bibs and lucky race day socks. This was how he came to earn the nickname “the squirrel”. However, we were somewhat justifiably emotional when it came to letting go of our mountain bikes and Waffles the scooter.

STEP 5: And You’re Off on Your Sabbatical!

Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places! You’re off and away!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. 
And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.” – Dr. Seuss
STEP 6: Don’t panic
About three weeks in, sitting on a beach in Mozambique and looking out at the ocean, we realised that it was Monday morning. In our “old life” we’d be frantically answering e-mails that had accumulated over the weekend while trying to prepare for the week ahead. We felt panicked, questioning what the hell we were doing on a beach in Mozambique when our colleagues and peers were hard at work, putting their qualifications and experience to good use and “getting ahead” of us. All we can advise you is that this panic only lasts for about a week and until such time as it subsides, you might want to keep an ample supply of booze at hand. 
STEP 7: This is the Time 

Other than deciding what you feel like eating for breakfast, lunch and dinner, your day is free of distractions and your time is your own. In my experience it was also an opportunity to process and work through a lot of past emotional hurt and “baggage” that I had accumulated and suppressed over the years. This is the time not only to heal yourself but to open your mind to new experiences, new cultures and people and new ways of living. They say that travel is a personal investment and we can assure you that by the end of this journey your perception of life will forever be altered. Furthermore, you will take forward with you every gem of insight and understanding gained from this experience to lead a more purposeful, fulfilling and complete life. Whether that be back at the office, carving your career in a new direction or on the road exploring new places. We wish you all the best!