1) Life is short. We have a precious and brief ride on this earth, and it seems a shame to spend it doing basically the same thing year after year, decade after decade. There is a big wide world out there full of experiences, learning, places and people waiting to be explored.
2) Life is long. At the same time, our lives and careers play out over decades, and in the grand scheme of things, it's not as hard as it seems to take a few months or even a few years out to do something different. In fact it could propel you forward in ways you never imagined.
3) It's a thousand times more helpful than a vacation for waking up your brain. Most of us take very few vacations, and when we get them, too often they're just a long weekend, or maybe a week. If you've ever taken a 2 week vacation (and I did it only twice in my 20 year marketing career) you probably noticed that you felt quite different in the 2nd week than in the 1st. Your brain starts to wake up and operate in ways it just never gets a chance to in the hubub of your regular daily life. A sabbatical lets you fully detach and unwind in the way a vacation never does, giving your brain a chance to think new thoughts and be more creative and connected than it usually gets to be.
4) You can't grow if you're stuck in a rut. And growth is life, and one of the keys to happiness.
5) You'll get to know yourself better. When we challenge ourselves to change the routine, the setting, and the players in our daily life, we get to know ourselves in a new way. Exposing ourselves to "different" even if it's just for a little while, introduces us to new sides of ourselves. And understanding who we really are is one of the greatest challenges and joys of life.
6) You'll get to know your family better. With more time and less job pressure weighing us down, we are able to notice more about what's happening around us, and within our families. Husbands, kids, parents, siblings, nieces & nephews, grandparents. These people surround us, if we are lucky, yet it's amazing how easy it is to not really see them when we are preoccupied and distracted by work stress.
7) Answer the quiet little voice that wonders "what if". You've daydreamed about taking time off. You've got that mental list of things you'd want to do. You wonder if you'll ever find the right time or the courage to do it. But you've also started to wonder what will happen to you if you don't. That's the little voice, and she needs to be answered.
8) You'll finally have a chance to just rest. If you're like me, just resting feels indulgent. A waste of time. Shouldn't I be doing something? Checking something off my to-do list? But we underestimate the importance of real rest as a counterbalance to the busyness of life. It's essential for our bodies and brains to function at peak performance. Without enough true rest, we undermine our potential and our happiness.
Important note: Everybody has to decide when the right time is for them, and it'll be different for everyone. I worked for 20 years before deciding to step away for a year. I'm not advocating that everyone should immediately take off on a sabbatical, but rather I wanted to encourage everyone to at least consider it at some point in their career, either sooner or later depending on their temperament and goals.
My goal with this list was simply to capture the reasons I felt have been most relevant for me during my process of deciding to go, and my experiences as of 2 months into the sabbatical. I plan to revisit this list at the end of my year off, to see if there are any edits or additions with the additional time and perspective.
You can read more about my sabbatical here.