When I was 30 years old I chose to leave a high-stress, perk-filled corporate job and take a month off from the working world to re-design my career path. I had just taken a life-changing trip to Europe and was sitting in my cube working and watching the hands of the clock cruise past 6:30 p.m.- the time my yoga class was supposed to begin– thinking: no one was ever going to call me and say “It’s time to leave so you can get to your class Renee … you haven’t taken a vacation in a year, it’s time for a break … your mom would love to see you, how long has it been since you’ve visited her?” Or, most importantly, “Are you really utilizing your full creative potential, Renee?” It was time to move into the driver’s seat and reclaim my life.
Is your life passing you by? Are you living the life you desire …. or someone else’s entirely?
The merry-go-round of work never stops. There will always be more work than we can handle, more emails than we can ever manage, more projects to juggle. It’s up to us to heed our inner calling, whether that voice is saying, “You’re starving creatively … you can’t keep pushing, your body can’t do this anymore … if you look at one more email, your mind will explode … or, you have got to slow down and rest,” and take action.
So I’m responding to that call this month–like I have at many times in my life–and taking a week off during one of my busiest time of year. Yes, I’m self-employed and have many pressing deadlines, two companies to manage, new staff to train and partnerships to discuss, but I honestly have no choice. I’m staying in town and unplugging to write for five days because everything in my being is screaming for a digital detox, a break from responding to endless emails and staring at a screen for way too many hours a day. And because I’m responding to a strong creative urge that is begging for my undivided attention, for face time.
I’m taking a sabbatical because I know with every cell in my body that when I heed this voice and take time for a respite, I return more connected to myself, more creative and more productive than I could have ever imagined. I also know that if I turned my back on this calling and kept on “business as usual,” I would not only become worthless and fried at work and at home, I would send a cold-hearted message to the deepest, wisest part of myself that, “What you say doesn’t really matter.”
Whether it’s playing hooky on a Friday afternoon, scheduling one day off a month, exploring a flex schedule, working reduced hours for a span of time or taking a formal sabbatical, time off from our everyday routine gives us a 30,000 foot perspective we can’t get when we’re running like hamsters on a wheel. But don’t hold your breath waiting for someone to come tap you on the shoulder and ask you what you need. This is something you’ll have to to claim for yourself.
Have a company/employee event or national or regional conference coming up? I have been speaking professionally for more than 25 years to Fortune 500 companies, national conferences and nonprofit and association groups on work-life balance. Read Is life balance possible?, visit my site to learn more about past clients and email firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your upcoming 2014-2015 event.
Subscribe here to Live Inside Out, a weekly blog written by work-life balance speaker/author Renée Peterson Trudeau. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping and more. Thousands of women in ten countries are becoming RTA-Certified Facilitators and leading/joining self-renewal groups based on her award-winning curriculum. Her newest release is Nurturing the Soul of Your Family. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and 11 year-old son. More on her background here.