Learning Personal Growth Work

Using a sabbatical to grow

Liked How to take a sabbatical by Sean BlandaSean Blanda (Sean Blanda)

The sabbatical differs from a “vacation” or “time off.” It has a goal. One who takes a sabbatical is doing to so work on … something. Sometimes it’s a company or a book. But in most cases, the sabbatical is taken to work on the very person taking the sabbatical. It’s a turn inward and a chance to do some mental accounting.

Use a sabbatical to explore and experiment:

The sabbatical is the time to do something about all of the loose ideas you have in your head.

Haha, never enough time for that! But, I could give them more consideration, and let go of old ideas that aren’t worth taking up space in my brain.

Try lots of new things, and don’t narrow down prematurely:

On your sabbatical, you aren’t quite sure what’s out there or what you could even make. But you know that new ingredients and new restaurants enable to you maybe create some different dishes. That means trying some new dishes — which means doing things you wouldn’t normally, going places you’d never go, and talking to people you wouldn’t normally talk to.

This is why there can be no linear “path” or “progress” in the way we normally think of things (you hear that, you Type-A’s out there?). There is no direction. There is only discovery. Especially at first.

Leave space to process, don’t fill every minute:

Your brain needs empty thoughts and moments to connect the dots and work out the new information you are introducing it to. Your mental cupboard needs to clear space on the shelves for more life ingredients.

I have this feeling that I’ve got the potential to think at a higher level and make better things, if I can just figure out how to get there. That if I let my mental drawer rattle enough, I’ll put together some pieces in a more useful way. Maybe that’s wishful thinking or pride. Or maybe I just need a little breathing room to dig deeper into some of the things I’m already thinking and see if there is more there.

Meet new people, catch up with old friends:

Most of the people I spoke with talked about reaching out to friends and friends of friends with what they were thinking about and interested in. They then set up coffee meetings, Skype calls, and email threads with those people. And those people open up pathways to things you won’t consider on your own.

This is a good idea for me — I can be shy about introducing myself to new people, but also enjoy talking with new folks. I find it easier if I have a ‘reason’ to connect with someone.

By Tracy Durnell

Writer and designer in the Seattle area. Freelance sustainability consultant. Reach me at She/her.

2 replies on “Using a sabbatical to grow”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *