Sabbatical Stories

Rainer’s Sabbatical and Career Transition

Rainer goes on a 9-month sabbatical and a career transition as he moves into his 40s. During his time off, he took a 1000km walk and spent time reflecting and gaining clarity.

Ringing in my forties with a 9 month sabbatical (and a 1000km walk)

It allowed me to slow down, breathe, and see things with more clarity and joy.

Sometimes things are so urgent and there is so much to do (and so many people need you) that the best thing to do is stop, pause, slow down, take a step back and get perspective…. by going on a nice long walk.

It was great to stop running. It was also great to not have a title, or deadlines, or do much and just be and breathe…. and walk. Besides having more time for friends, family, and myself, the central activities were a 1000km walk to Rome from Switzerland over 44 days followed by a 6 week spiritual self-reflective retreat.

It was at the end of that retreat that I had more clarity about moving to a new country. All in all, it was about taking a step back and getting some perspective on the last 40 years of my life (and the last 2 years of COVID craziness). I wrote some of my reflections here.

List some activities you engaged in during your sabbatical:
– More time to visit friends and family (extended time with elderly grandmother) and be there for them in important moments (and to not do this in a rushed way).
– More time in nature with long hikes and walks.
– A 1000km walk from Switzerland to Rome over 44 days.
– A 6 week spiritual and self-reflective retreat.
– Nothing
– Read more.
– Reflect, discern, talk with others about moving to African and taking up a new job and adventure there.

How long was your sabbatical (in weeks)?

Did HOW you work change at all, post-sabbatical?
Went from full time to part time, Committed to taking significantly more time off
(e.g. 4 day workweek, or summer’s off)

What kind of work did you return to?
Different company, different role

Describe any changes you made in your life post-sabbatical:

I take things slower and have re-worked my schedule to work 60%, and have moved to another country (continent)

Why do you think others should (or shouldn’t) take sabbaticals? Are there occasions in life where it’s particularly helpful?

I think that anyone that feels they need one should look into it. Particular moments of transition can also be good moments.(I was turning 40 and had been contemplating moving to a new country and new work experience for a while).

Life today is just so full and so fast and so loud, that anything we can do to simplify, slow down and find some silence is good.

Sometimes to do that well we need a longer period of a break and investment that pours into our future and our present — it is just priceless. Life is too short to just run and keep postponing the charging of our batteries till retirement. The amount of people I know with burn-out is getting out of control and as someone told me once, “the cemetery is full of indispensable people”… so why wait?

You can connect with Rainer Gude here.

Interested in more sabbatical stories that result in a career or job change? You might like Cinzia’s story.

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