You Might Need a Sabbatical If…

You Might Need a Sabbatical If…

By: Earl Blackmon

Last summer, I did something no one at hb&k has ever done before – I took a sabbatical. I don’t know how you would feel, but when the idea of taking a month away from work was presented to me, I got a little anxious at the thought of what could happen while I was away. You want me to not check emails? Not respond to clients? Not make progress on my in-office projects? You want me to just… take time off? For a month? If that sounds more like a nightmare than a vacation – you might need a sabbatical.

What Would I Even Do with All My Time?

When I started my sabbatical, I did a one week “phase-out” which meant I was still checking email and handling or delegating questions and issues. At the time, I was thinking this is how the entire sabbatical should be – I wanted the ability to check in and make sure everything was going well.

Starting the next week, I had no access to work email. (If your stomach just did a flip at the thought of being totally cut off from the office – you might need a sabbatical.)

Over the course of my time away from work, I found myself enjoying the leisurely pace at which I could do normal tasks and I found the time to do some new things too! I made a list of items (some big and some small) that I recommend doing on a sabbatical:

  • Cut the grass (ok, so this is work, but it’s therapy for me)
  • Attend a conference (this one is cheating a little, but not a lot if you love what you do!)
  • Go for an adventure like a helicopter tour
  • Work on a home project
  • Attend a civic club luncheon
  • Enjoy a “staycation” and spend time with family
  • Go for a drive
  • Go to a movie
  • Read for pleasure (not business)
  • Commit to a volunteer activity
  • Explore a New(port) place (FYI – Newport, RI is a lot of fun)
  • Do something new like take a sailing lesson
  • Write a blog on the joys of taking a sabbatical (or at least a list of the things you enjoyed while taking one)
  • Be spontaneous

At the end of my sabbatical, I had a “phase-in” week where I was able to check email and the difference in my attitude toward it was astounding! Being able to take a true break reminded me of the value of taking time for yourself.

How Did the Firm Survive?

We didn’t just survive – we thrived! Our goal for the sabbatical program at hb&k is tri-fold: First, the partners (and eventually managers) have an opportunity to take extended time off to recharge and get a glimpse of what adjusting to future retirement will be. Second, the staff gains confidence with the chance to step up to the plate and take on tasks that you would normally handle. Third, the clients benefit from interacting with a new member of the team, who can bring a different perspective and be another point of contact at the firm.

Another unexpected benefit that emerged from my sabbatical is that I have been able to pursue my work-passions such as Lean Six Sigma and help clients at a higher level because our incredible staff adjusted to taking over the work I previously completed.

I’m happy to say this program has continued. Vance Kilgore, our founding shareholder in Brewton, has just returned from his sabbatical.

As with any successful program, planning is a necessary step if you want to achieve your goals. hb&k prepared for this sabbatical for several months before I took the time away. We have the expertise to guide you through a successful sabbatical too.

If this sounds like something you aren’t ready for – maybe you need a sabbatical!! Or, if you want an opportunity to prepare your future leaders – you might need a sabbatical. And most importantly, if you want a chance to pursue higher-level work passions, but you can’t figure out how to do it – you might just need a sabbatical.