Despite numerous stories extolling the profound rewards of taking time away, it’s an idea that is not being as heartily embraced as it might be. In fact, many people find the thought downright terrifying.
Because the notion of regular sabbaticals throughout our lifetime has been so ignored in recent times, there’s some confusion over what constitutes a true sabbatical. My definition of sabbatical is time away with a purpose. The purpose of such a time is not to abandon your life, but to enrich it.
In the original concept, first defined in the Old Testament book of Hebrews, a sabbatical was to be taken by everyone, every seven years. During this year off, fields were to lie fallow, debts were to be forgiven, relationships were to be repaired and introspection was encouraged.
Over time, of course, the notion disappeared and today many people don’t even observe a weekly Sabbath, much less consider an entire year of restoration.
Whether you’re in a year divisible by seven or not, here are several signs that it is the perfect time to consider a sabbatical of your own:
° You can’t remember the last time you had a new idea you were excited about.
° You’ve reached all of your goals.
° You’ve reached none of your goals.
° Your kids think you’re a nerd and you suspect they’re right.
° You have a nagging suspicion that you’d be really good at something if you only had time to learn how to do it.
° You get wistful every time a plane flies overhead.
° Nobody ever asks you what’s new.
° A long-term relationship or career has come to an end.
° You’re ready to find a new hometown.
° You’re tired of being an armchair traveler and want to see distant lands for yourself.
° You feel drawn to donate your time and talents to a humanitarian cause.
° You need time to do research or start a long-term project.
° Your soul is weary.
If you agreed with any of these, it’s time to let go of excuses and get going. As architect Sarah Susanka reminds us, “What I discovered is that when you make the time and the space for what you long to do, everything else shifts to accommodate it. It never works the other way around. If you wait until there’s time to do what you want to do, you’ll be waiting until your eighty-fifth birthday.”