Sabbatical Best Practices

What can we learn from people that follow their passion and choose the road less travelled?

In conducting my interviews, I realized that the best advice could be applied immediately. I didn’t need to leave my life to apply my friends’ best advice. This week, I’ll share two tips that we can apply now.


Outcome Focus — some quotes to set the scene:

  • I’d made a little money, I was unemployed and I had some things I wanted to do. Once I gave myself permission to do anything, my bucket list came together very quickly.
  • Don’t seek to find yourself, before you start the journey, know what you want to get done.
  • I gave myself five years to get it done.

Those quotes come from friends that climbed Everest, changed careers and won Ironman triathlons (not all the same person!).

Listening to them, it struck me that outcomes are an effective way to organize a life. Champion athletes are excellent at honing their lives down to a single outcome focus.

I’ve made a shift and created an outcome list that is related to my Top Ten List. The benefit of an Outcome List is it helps me filter opportunities and prioritize. It also gives me comfort when I need to say “no” or focus elsewhere.

Filter through your desired outcomes. What are you trying to get done?


Re-entry Strategy — before you leave, give thought to your return; because…

  • I didn’t plan on going back but I took a leave of absence in case I changed my mind
  • I had no idea where I would end up but I had a clear idea about the people that I wanted to keep in my life
  • I wanted to change direction but discovered that I was most valuable staying in a similar field.
  • I took a break to discover that my replacement had taken my job, permanently.

High quality opportunites are rare. Think very carefully before you leave a world-class organization, or burn a bridge with anyone.

With that in mind, the best ideas that I received for staying in touch were:

  • Schedule something fun to share with the key people in your life
  • When you do something unique, write about it
  • Consider researching a new business opportunity for your current employer

Each of the above, creates options within your life.

Related to the above, in my 20s, I had the opportunity to attend business school. I declined because I realized that I was exactly where I wanted to be. I was living my desired outcome.

Most my friends that took sabbaticals re-discovered how much they loved their current life (that they thought they needed to change). They were grateful for an effective re-entry strategy.

Genuine friendships, based on shared experiences, have tremendous value.