Sabbatical Stories

Rebecca Finds the Space to Dream Up Her Next Chapter

rebecca thomas feature image sabbatical project

An intentional, well planned sabbatical led to the creation of our best life design and a plan of how to achieve it.

Dreaming up our next chapter – Life changing

I’ve taken 3 sabbaticals (all unpaid, 2 with the same company, 1 with another). Each were very different . The longest and most impactful, was a 7 month break taken by my husband and I in 2016 with the intention to design our next chapter and plan how to make it happen.

At the time we were living in Sydney, I was a Director in a global recruitment firm and my husband was working in utilities for an ASX listed company. Originally from the UK we had lived in Sydney for 5 years and were at a crossroads of whether we committed to staying there or returned back to the UK.

The beauty about a sabbatical is that it is a period of sacred time that allows you to take time to heal, reflect and dream. We set intentions, had clear objectives and organised our time off into 3 main chapters.

  1. Spend time with family and friends in the UK to see if we could visualise life back there. More importantly did we want to return?
  2. Spend time at our rural derelict barn in France that we had bought on a whim in 2008. Did we want this property to be part of our future? Were we holding onto it for sentimental reasons or could we see it being part of our dream life?
  3. Take some time to travel, decompress, dream up our next chapter, discuss what was important to each of us, get clear on our non-negotiables and then make a plan.

We both returned to our exisiting companies but with the knowledge that it wasn’t forever, more a vehicle to the dream end goal!

rebecca thomas sabbatical

We had a clear vision of our dream life and a 5 year plan of how we would turn it into reality. In 2022 we made it happen and now are privileged enough to live an endless summer with all our favourite people in our favourite places with a huge amount of adventure in-between.

My husband is currently building our dream house in France and I am a career crossroads and sabbatical coach!

Activities you engaged in during your sabbatical:

  • Going home to the UK to see if we could live back there again.
  • Spending time with family and friends.
  • Spending time at our derelict French property to see if we still wanted this rural barn to be part of our dream life.
  • Blue sky thinking – planning our dream life.
  • Travel.
  • Study – website design and creation.
  • Study – learning French.
  • Blogging.

How long was your sabbatical (in weeks)?
28

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

What kind of work did you return to?
Totally different work

Describe any changes you made in your life post-sabbatical:
Each sabbatical was step in the direction to my perfect life… which I can confirm I am now living!

How did your sabbatical experience change the way you thought about your employer?
I had greater respect, loyalty and commitment post sabbatical.

Why do you think others should (or shouldn’t) take sabbaticals? Are there occasions in life where it’s particularly helpful?
Stepping back from routine and entering ‘sacred time’ can offer perspective, restore both mental and physical health and can, if maximised, encourage individuals to return to lives with intention. I promise that ‘future you’ will thank ‘past you’ for taking a sabbatical!

Taking a sabbatical is particularly helpful when at a life intersection, whether that be intentional or forced.

Taking a sabbatical is particularly helpful when at a life intersection, whether that be intentional or forced. Think career change, redundancy, divorce, death, diagnosis, marriage, pregnancy.

You can connect with Rebecca Thomas here.

Interested in more stories of people who have taken multiple sabbaticals? Check out Carol-Ann’s story.

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