All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
This proverb gets a very dark twist in the 1980 Kubrick film “The Shining”.
But seriously, have you ever gone a wee bit mental when you didn’t have time to play, explore and dream?
Or maybe you’ve gotten the auto-pilot blues after doing the same rote tasks and living the same way for a long time?
Thankfully, we have words like “ennui” and “malaise” borrowed from the poetic French language to describe a mood that often precedes breakdown or mid-life crisis.
Those feeling are signposts – foreshadowing a life of exhaustion, illness or despair if we proceed along the same course.
This is when you might realize that you need a major change in your life.
And depending on your situation, this is when taking a sabbatical to examine your options could be life-changing.
However, many people ignore all those signals and decide to keep on truckin’ – business as usual.
Here are 5 common reasons why most people don’t take the needed time to “enlighten up”:
Many people think that they don’t have the financial means to fund a sabbatical.
However, there are multiple ways to make it happen when the mind is committed.
Remember: If money is always the reason why you cannot take the time, then money is always going to be the reason.
The release: At some point, your dream has to become more convincing than this argument. When you really want something, you can access some very creative options and ideas. There are so many ways one can take a sabbatical.
Your ability to attract opportunities and/or sufficient resources is amplified greatly by your determination and intention.
image by by janus syndicate
You can be cash-rich but time-poor.
Scarcity has found a sneaky way in! Even if you have money in your pockets, you might have limited time in your mind or your schedule.
But just like money, time is a currency. Even if a windfall of time arrives, you can spend it all and have nothing left to show for it in the end.
The release: Time can be carved out. It can be set aside if your resolve is strong enough.
Time can be created out of thin air when it becomes non-negotiable.
digital art by merkchen
This is where the martyr in you causes you to get stuck in a perpetual chain of commitments, obligations and tasks.
Maybe you feel that you cannot take a sabbatical because of your family, friends and colleagues needs or expectations.
Or maybe you have an internalized sense of guilt that pulls the strings on your life choices?
If beliefs around duty constantly cause you to ignore your own well-being, you might sacrifice more than your joie-de-vivre. Remember, the basic definition of a martyr is: someone who gets killed for their “beliefs”.
The release: The way out is to realize that you have a duty to your own joy, to your vitality and to your heart. Don’t become a faint shadow of yourself because of the limitations others place on you!
Be bold and set yourself free. When you live your truth, it is actually better for everyone in the long run (even if some people doth protest and accuse you of being “selfish”).
Your bursting joy is a better gift to this world than your contained suffering.
This is where the relentless pursuit of career or worldly goals prevents you from taking a needed break.
Instead of stopping to smell the roses, you might be trampling them as you race to the top!
However, without ever pausing to check out the view, you might doggedly climb the ladder of success only to find that you’ve been barking up the wrong tree.
The release: Taking a break is actually a powerful executive action. It helps you take stock of the bigger picture, evaluate your priorities and review your direction. It also enriches your life because it allows you a chance to develop and enjoy other sides of yourself.
And if your A-type personality really needs a goal, your sabbatical could involve acquiring a new skill or building another project.
On the other hand, experiencing a quiet retreat or leisurely sabbatical can be the perfect complement for someone with so much drive.
It’s smart to stop in order to recharge your batteries; a full charge means you’ll be even more productive later!
Image by Caras Ionut
If the idea of enjoying a sabbatical without your mate or bestfriend takes the wind out of your sails, you will likely wait for them.
As you wait and wait for your beloved to find the time, money, freedom or willingness to go, another year goes by. (Or decade)
Time flies when you’re waiting for someone else…
The release: Consider embarking on your sabbatical anyway. If it involves travel or lifestyle changes for a period of time, the time will fly and before you know it, you’ll be back in each other’s arms.
If this is a recurring kind of break, maybe they can join you for a short time or maybe you can just enjoy your own private retreat.
Having periodic space from each other can strengthen a relationship.
However, if you really cannot find a mutually agreeable solution and this keeps coming up, then maybe, it’s time to find someone else who can share your ideal lifestyle.
There is no time like the present to begin honoring your dreams.
A 6th REASON:
image by TheWhiteLight
While there are other colorful reasons why we don’t take time off, here is one more reason why the sabbatical is not yet widespread in North America:
Our prevailing ideology does not propagate “time off”.
With the work ethic staunchly embedded in our psyches, most of us feel guilty or lazy for not contributing to the household, to the workforce or to the community if we take significant time off.
Some Interesting Facts:
AISPIX by Image Source / Shutterstock
When you’re an employed adult in Canada, you can expect 2 weeks paid vacation each year plus an average of 8 statutory holidays.
(British Columbia and Saskatchewan are tied at the top for 10 stats and Nova Scotia gets only 5.)
When you’re a low-wage worker in the USA, you may be part of the 51% that don’t get any paid vacation while high-wage workers are 90% likely to receive 2 weeks of time off.
However, when you look more closely, you might be shocked to discover that the United States is the only industrialized economy that does not legally require employers to offer ANY paid vacation time! As a result, 1 out of every 4 Americans work without any paid time off.
From No‐Vacation Nation Policy Brief
In comparison, the report by the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington DC confirms that the average paid vacation time in Europe is about 4 weeks plus an additional average of 10 statutory holidays!
The Irony of Time Off
Not surprisingly, many employers are now finally realizing that it significantly boosts productivity and creativity when employees have enough time off!
In the laboratory of my own life, I would concur. Every time I returned from a sabbatical or a vacation, I had more energy to focus, to work and to give.
My friend Conrad Schmidt is the iconic leader of the Work Less Party (BC) and an activist who advocates a reduction of the industrial work week.
In his book “Workers of the World RELAX: The Simple Economics of Less Industrial Work”, he explains the social and environmental benefits a world where we “consume less, produce less, work less, pollute less and live more”.
In an interview with Briarpatch magazine, Schmidt says:
“When you have a society where people are empowered and have more time to think, more time to read, more time to communicate with their neighbours, you create a more empowered society that is better able to challenge social injustice like the income gap”.
And while some say it’s a “first-world luxury” to work less – the people of developing economies are not all working crazy hours and not all people in industrialized economies are taking time off.
It is a more complex equation of cultural conditioning, spiritual/religious beliefs, political and economic agendas which create societies that either value or devalue leisure time.
When I was in Bali for 6 weeks in 2008, I saw a very different pace of life. People of diverse economic means seemed to have lots of time each day to sit, to mingle, to eat and to engage in spiritual practices.
They seemed to enjoy a generally more regenerative lifestyle and their work days appeared more spacious.
Maybe if we learned how to live this way, we wouldn’t need vacations or sabbaticals?
Introducing The ‘New and Improved’ Red Pill!
In the classic scene from the film “The Matrix”, the hero-in-training Neo is given the option to take the red pill or the blue pill.
The red pill would cause him to “awaken” in the real world which is harsh but contains the truth.
The blue pill would cause him to stay “asleep” in the false world which is comfortable but a lie.
However, in the great movie of life, many of us feel we WERE given a red pill!
We’ve been warned about the harsh realities – that’s why we often work ourselves down to the bone (and suffer guilt when we don’t).
Thankfully, there is a collective awakening happening and increasing numbers of people are taking the new and improved red pill!
It contains the truth that sages and mystics have espoused for millennia:
This is a gorgeous universe full of wonder…
You are not here to just work and produce.
You are here to fully experience your world.
…and the entire cosmos beckons you to stop and smell the sacred flower of life.
(Please stay tuned for part 3 of this series…)