The idea of taking a sabbatical always sounded to me like a cool thing to do. While the definition of “sabbatical” varies widely, in academic terms it is often granted after 7 years of service. This definition intrigues me in hindsight because one year ago, without being in academic pursuit and certainly without taking any advice, I rather spontaneously decided to take a sabbatical after spending 7 years at a great company in a role(s) I loved. The hardest question for me throughout the sabbatical was “why did you leave your job”? At the end of my sabbatical year, the answer is easy — “because I needed to”.
Having the judgment and resolve to make and act on the decision to take a year “off” is now a proud moment for me but it was, at the time, appropriately hair-raising. The idea of giving up a position I loved, working with a team I revered and, not least of all, an income was daunting. That said, I would openly debate with anyone at a career inflection point about the virtues of staying where they are in their career, trying to move jobs while fully engaged in a demanding role and taking the leap of faith to have some time to reflect and regenerate. And I believe the debate could go any which way depending on the context.
While I do think the sabbatical was the right path for me to choose, we all need to pay our bills and the truth is there are always trade-offs. My trade-off was flexibility for security and my motivating force was the ability to pursue my entrepreneurial objectives while also spending more time with family. Thankfully it has been a home run on both fronts. Over the past year, I have finally co-founded and successfully launched the start-up that for eight years was a pipe-dream (www.touchinvest.com), spent more days and hours with my family and carved out a successful consulting framework for the future. There have also been many learning moments and I have worked harder over the past year than I could have possibly imagined. There have been no beaches, mountain-hikes or navel-gazing for this sabbatical gal.
Twelve months on from my sabbatical decision moment, I am about to step into a new chapter and am doing so with renewed sense of direction, professional wisdom and appreciation for the myriad of ways we can achieve professional and financial fulfillment. Onward and upward.