3 awesome things I did on my sabbatical
Back on November 25, 2013, at Hyland’s weekly company meeting, our Manager of Employee Engagement announced that we were introducing a sabbatical program.
“With sabbaticals, we aim to reward the dedication and contribution of long-time employees with a break that allows them to return recharged, refreshed and relaxed,” she said.
The eligibility is for full-time, actively working domestic employees with 8+ years of service. As she announced this, I realized I fit the eligibility criteria. I promptly picked my jaw up from the ground and decided I don’t use enough of my company’s perks. I had to use this one!
Fast forward to March 31, 2015. At 6:40 p.m., I was finishing up the last items before I embarked on my 4.5 week sabbatical. (Not that I was counting or anything like that.) The last item was staring directly back at me. It was my iPhone. I really pondered what to do with it and ultimately decided to leave it in my desk, the temptation to look at it during my absence would be far too great.
I confirmed that feeling the next morning around 10 a.m. when I started feeling some anxiety from not checking it like I normally do on days off. But my panic easily wore off throughout the day and coming weeks.
Many of my co-workers were curious about what I was going to do with my time off. Several gave me disappointed looks when I told them I was not going to be taking any trip of sorts, whether a family vacation or travelling abroad (as many have done).
Why travel when everything I love is right here?
My reasoning is quite simple. For six years, I spent 40 percent of my time sleeping in hotel rooms, driving rental cars and dealing with flight delays. So I didn’t want to waste my time doing those things when I didn’t have to. Additionally, I have a young family (two daughters, one three-and-a-half and the other a year-and-a-half) which means I spend most of my spare time with them.
So when I daydream at work, it’s not about a beach vacation, but rather having the time and freedom to hang out with my family and finish projects around the house.
In the months leading up to my sabbatical, I started making a list of things to do: addressing home DIY needs, woodworking projects with my kids, volunteering, attending a Cleveland Indians day game, meeting friends for lunch, working out, spending special days with my kids and many other items that I want to do that I normally don’t have time for.
I took that list and built a Trello board to track when I thought I could complete tasks – allowing me to plan my time best. I’m not going to tell you I got every project done on my list, but I did get the important ones done and at least started on the remaining ones by utilizing the plan I’d set forth in Trello.
It was fun telling friends and family about my sabbatical. After I explained the concept and what I was going to do during it, I was often presented with confused looks and the following comments.
Here are a few of them:
“Really, you aren’t going to work for a month?”
“There’s no way my company would ever do something like that.”
“What’s the purpose or why did they choose you?”
“You’re still checking email, right?”
I explained the purpose of work/life balance, but they still thought the idea is a little crazy. They also thought the place where I work is crazy.
But many usually ended up saying, “Wow, what an awesome company that truly cares about their employees’ happiness.”
When you live in a selfie world…
I decided to make it even easier for everyone to understand.
In early March, we released our newest version of our software solution suite. If you completed the employee training, you received an OnBase selfie stick, which led me to the idea of taking a selfie each day of my sabbatical to chronicle my time. I could also easily share the pictures on social media for my friends, family and co-workers to see what I’m up to.
I created the hashtag: #sabbaticalselfie, to share the experience. And I have to tell you, sabbaticals are great.
Here are my three highlights:
- Learning to use new tools while building my youngest daughter’s toy bin
- Taking my eldest daughter to her first movie and to the art museum
- Attending a Tribe day game in the middle of the week with my wife
In the end, I can’t say enough wonderful things about this experience that you probably haven’t thought of already. I honestly was not dreading coming back. And yes, I was asked about that repeatedly when I returned to the office. I really enjoy the work that I do, the customers I work with and the co-workers I consider family.
For me, this is what #hylandlife is and continues to be, and it’s awesome.