Take a year (or less) off from work
Many people envy academics who take sabbaticals. What they
don't realize is that sabbaticals are not designed as time
on the beach. You are supposed to use your free time to accomplish
specific projects. Often you are not allowed to embark on
a sabbatical if your plans seem vague or unproductive.
Have a plan that includes fun.
How do you want to play? Did you always want to spend a year
at the movies, take a ceramics class, write nonstop all morning,
or begin each day with a blank slate?
If this idea is totally new, even scary, you may want to
practice on weekends. You may need to identify what you really
want to do before you start. A coach can help.
After you know what you want to do,
Design playful activities.
I recommend two types of goals: a creativity goal and a physical
A creativity goal involves developing a new side of yourself,
using some combination of art, music, drama, and writing.
You may become an artist or take "appreciation"
classes. If you travel, you can keep a journal, visit art
museums or attend concerts.
No ideas? Check out The Artist's Way, by Julia Cameron, available
at any bookstore. I am willing to bet that you will have no
trouble identifying playful activities as you work through
Physical activity can be as simple as walking or as rigorous
as training for a marathon. Learn a new sport. Dance. Work
with a trainer in the weight room. People tell me over and
over, "I felt stronger as a person when my body became
Some goals are unique combinations of the physical and the
creative. "Build a cabin on my property," "Sail
my boat to the island and back," "Walk the length
of the state of California and keep a journal."
Set a time limit for your Time Out.
Over three months, you can sign up for a class in pottery
or piano. You can complete The Artist's Way program.
Six months? You can draft a short book or outline a longer
Six weeks? You can travel or go to workshops or see all the
movies you didn't have time for.
A time limit can free you. Someone I know (call her Janet)
finished her MBA and began drifting. She worked part-time
in a restaurant in a charming resort town. She felt no rush
to get a corporate job to begin her career. After several
months, the restaurant closed and Janet's parents reminded
her, "We supported you through school so you could get
a real job!"
Janet eventually built her own successful business, but she
says a time limit would have given her a sense of direction.
Don't drift. You can always start a new Time Out if you're
|Cathy Goodwin, Ph.D. is an author, career coach, and
speaker. She works with mid-career professionals who want to make a fast
move to career freedom. Visit her site http://www.movinglady.com
or call 505-534-4294.