Taking a break from your career – meet Chiara from Italy

Why I decided to take a sabbatical and become a Travelling Yogi

a personal experience from Chiara

Have you ever felt like you wanted to quit everything and just go travelling? That you had had enough?

If the answer is yes, then welcome to the club!

Before you make any rushed decisions and find yourself unemployed in the blink of an eye, think it through and consider your alternatives. A sabbatical might be just what you need.

Take my example. I worked as an Italian successful sales director in various countries. I have spent the past 10 years negotiating with large clients and solving their problems, until I realized that I needed a break, and decided to take a 6 months’ sabbatical to travel around Asia and Australia.

While aside from yoga, my increasingly successful career in digital marketing and sales fulfilled me immensely for the first few exciting years, I more recently started to feel there was something missing, that the “glory” and the money coming from it were no longer “enough”.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Of course, I was making decent money, and I’m not saying that money does not buy happiness.

Money does help a lot. And I wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t had that career first. There was never a powerful family or rich husband to buy my expensive leggings. So I’m not saying: give up everything and go meditate on top of a mountain!

Money can be our biggest motivation. And that’s ok! It simply isn’t my main goal per se for now.

 

So what happened??

mani pedi - uttanasana yoga poseAbout a year ago, I found myself having these thoughts… I recall the exact moment. I was having a mani-pedi done after a full body massage in one of the top salons in Dubai. So yes, I had lots of time to think.

All of a sudden, I realised how much I didn’t care about my nails being shiny (well, the massage was amazing…). How my feet would have preferred to tiptoe barefoot on a teak patio on a remote beach. Yes, we do have beaches in Dubai, but that sand is basically powder concrete!

“You’re never happy!” – you’ll think. You always want what you don’t have!

Exactly.

That’s the whole point.

I’ve been brought up thinking that I wasn’t enough, that what I was doing wasn’t enough, that I could have done more. Well, probably my family didn’t realise what they were doing at the time, but that mindset became my religion. That, together with a wise Latin motto that I discovered during high school: carpe diem (= seize the day).

As a result, I always worked super hard to get better, richer, more important, more beautiful, more loved… Until that day in the salon.

 

Have you ever felt the same way…?

For a series of events and coincidences, both my partner and I have come to a point where we feel something is missing from our lives.  We are ready to venture deeper into our personal paths, putting aside certainties, careers and comfortable lives we have achieved thus far.

Maybe, for the same series of coincidences, we still have no kids, no mortgage and some small savings. That, together with a lot of courage. This helped us make up our mind: NOW OR NEVER!

We’re therefore going to travel for the next 6 months and see the world (well, part of it at least), and see what happens.

On my side I’d like to go deeper with my yoga practice, increase my experience of teaching internationally, as well as certifying as yin yoga and prenatal yoga teacher. Every day I feel more and more that yoga is not just a physical practice, and there are so many of us that need to slow down, relax and unwind. That’s where I’d like to help you do once I get back.

 

Why go travelling?

The internet is full of people constantly travelling, and unless they all have received a huge inheritance, I wonder: how the hell can they do it?? If they can, so can we!

I guess I’m going to find out soon enough how to live like that, and I will be sharing my yogic-couple adventures with you on this new section of my blog.

With love and passion,

Chiara

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We from Sabbatical-Help love hearing personal success stories like that and encourage everyone interested in a sabbatical to get in contact with like-minded people like Chiara. If you’d like to be kept up-to-date about her personal experience, you can read her blog or contact her here to get her advice.

Aside of travelling, Chiara is a certified yoga teacher – you can get lots of interesting yoga tips and tricks on her website www.yogawithchiara.com, and you can follow her on Facebook or Instagram.

 

Workday blues and when it is time for a sabbatical

8.00 am – alarm rings. I don’t want to hear it and turn around. Just a little bit longer, I managed it pretty well to know the exact time, as to when I can lay my head on the pillow and sleep for some more minutes. I know it is luxurous to even be able to sleep until after 8 a.m. BUT since I stay in the office just as long you might not be that jealous anymore.

8.12 am – snooze.

8.24 am – I guess I have to get up….

9.05 am – Taking the metro to work. I am often looking at people’s faces. It is funny to see that they don’t even realize I am actually starring at them. All they see is only their phone in front of them, giving them backpain and a sore neck at the end of the day because they bend over in the way where you know it will hurt them at some point. When I look at these people I feel like they are not participating in life. Don’t get me wrong, of course they are alive – but what are they doing with their time? Exactly. Staring at their phone, responding to useless whatsapp conversations that mean nothing and would better be kept in the „trash folder“ of the phone (if it would have one). When I look at people in the morning in the metro, I see victims of technology, not being able to escape this ongoing tec circus we see in this century, and just smiling at the people who look at you. Just one smile, and you have a good conversation going. Or just a good start in the day. It’s that easy, why is no one interested in this type of conversation anymore?

9.45 am – Arriving at work, unpacking breakfast, getting a first coffee and read the newspaper. The day could not start better.

10.50 am – Just ordered lunch online before it was too late. Now I don’t have to go out and use my hour lunchbreak to find something eatable but can completely relax.

13.30 pm – lunch

15.00 pm – I see some people not really wanting to work anymore. Coffeebreaks in the kitchen tend to be longer and longer.

18.00 pm It’s crazy, but now no one wants to work anymore. I start getting annoyed because I would still like to concentrate but the noises are just getting louder and louder.

18.30 Done work. It’s funny how corporate life works. You can really see so many different characters. For example, there is me: I do my work, and when I am done, I go home. Why being at work when you don’t have anything more to do? Just to stay for fun? No thanks. I am definitely not like my co-workers, because I normally leave as one of the first people in my team. I definitely am surrounded by people who stay at work for several different reasons: some have found such friendships at work that they just enjoy being at work because it is time spent with friends. Others just want to stay to get the next promotion. And then there are the people who just don’t like to go home. Because they have stress in the family or with their partner, because they feel alone at home, or because they have nothing to do and rather spend the time in the office surrounded by people.

18.35 pm – Metro. No one is looking at each other. It is starting to creep me out.

19.10 pm – Finally made it home. Now the good part of the day begins.

Until I have to wake up again at 8.00 am… Same old.

Why you should take a mini sabbatical

A mini sabbatical is a good alternative, if you cannot afford the big one.

Some people think a sabbatical is only possible when taking a lot of time off (for example 6 months to a year) but forget about this because there is also the option to take a mini sabbatical. In our definition, a sabbatical is can be any extended timeout – so basically everything that lasts longer than a normal vacation. If you are normally going on vacation for 2 weeks (which is already a pretty long time for the most people) – then consider everything above this duration worth calling an sabbatical.

A “mini sabbatical” can have the same effect as a large one.

If, for any reason, you are not able to break out from your daily routines, try having a small sabbatical. Start for example with giving yourself a couple of weeks off. If you take a 6 week sabbatical, you will give yourself time to unplug, the possibility to travel to exotic and distant places and on top have some time to get back to your routine after returning home. It is wise to give yourself some time adopting again physically and emotionally to your (normal) life.

Negotiating a mini sabbatical with your boss will be easier.

Imagine you have to convince your boss of a sabbatical that lasts a year. He will not be super happy because someone else will have to substitute for your person (even though negotiating a long sabbatical is not impossible, we wrote about it here). It will be much easier for your boss to support your dream of taking some time off for a shorter period, because it will be more easy to find someone else who will be able to manage your work while you are gone. On top, when you come back you won’t be surprised by huge internal changes.

Tipp for Negotiating: The common standard for women going on maternity leave is six weeks in the US, and up to 4 months in other countries (obviously this depends on the rules of your country, in some countries you might get more time, in others you will get less time off. Check this article for more information about the maximum length of maternity leave in European countries). Thus, if you are thinking about taking a mini sabbatical, why not taking one of the same length as a maternity leave?  Many managers already know the procedure of planned absences and having to replace someone for this amount of time, so in the end you will have it easier to negotiate your sabbatical.

Also, the risk of being dismissed or replaced in your job is less probable if you only wish to take some “larger vacation” than spending a whole year away from your work and the company.

If you think a “mini sabbatical” might be a solution for you, we congratulate! If you are still soul searching and don’t know what to do with all the free time, check out our Sabbatical Ideas, and start planning your sabbatical ahead of time. We wish you all the best and good luck!

 

5 things that make you happier immediately

Do you want to be happier immediately? A happy life is probably what everyone is looking forward to having. Start practicing these five things and you will be rewarded big time.

 

1 – STOP USING SOCIAL MEDIA EXCESSIVELY (ESPECIALLY FACEBOOK)

Nowadays with Facebook and all the other Social Media around we are literally deluged with the positive and happy news and photos of other people. Most of the times we are happy for them. But then, 2 nights out of 100, we are starting to compare our lives (which may not be that interesting than their fotos) and this comparison will make us unhappy. It is a sad truth that our social activities online have made us compare our life to the ones of others in a really barbaric way. We tend to only see the happy situations online, no one will put a sad moment to share for everyone on Facebook. Comparing this seemingly perfect life of others with ours is one of the causes of modern unhappiness. Not understanding that what we see from others is not the reality is very important.

 

2 – DO NOT COMPARE YOURSELF WITH OTHERS

Everyone has been in the situation before, let it be in school, at work or in private life. Somebody else has something that YOU should have earned, that YOU deserve way more than this other human. Happiness is not build on who is the strongest, richest or most beautiful person in the world. Happiness is a decision. Understand that there is not one person like you on earth (even if you are a twin) and that just because of that comparing yourself to somebody else is already out of the question. What is the most important is that YOU are happy with your decisions, your income, your life, not others. If you are comparing yourself to somebody else, ask yourself why. If you come to the conclusion that you want to have “the same” that another person has, great! This will help you understanding who you are and what you are looking for in life. If you have a goal you will be able to work towards it with much more focus – a way that will make you happier, even when only “on the road” and not yet at the goal.

 

3 – DO NOT IGNORE YOUR INNER FEELINGS

Do you know that feeling, that you have to decide something really important and you decide one way (because your head tells you so) but there is something, a feeling, inside you that just does not feel right? Welcome to your inner guts. You should NEVER completely ignore them. Everyone has had decisions to take in life and we all know that a lot of times there is no right or wrong. But we know we “should” or “have to” decide one way because this is “how life works”. For example, you got offered a great job, after having studied something you were good at at school, you have been on the career path and will continue to grow in this position. Your head and everyone surrounding you will tell you “Take the job! This is great!” but there is something inside you, some strange feeling, somebody trying to show you that it is not all perfect as it seems. Never ignore this voice inside you because this voice is telling you what is important in your life, and only in your life. Maybe the joboffer was a great one and the next career step. But this also meant you had to change locations, or you had more responsibility leading to more working hours in the office. If you start understanding that listening to your inner feelings will bring you more happiness in your life you will not ignore it anymore for one more second.

 

4 – TAKE YOUR OWN LIFE DECISIONS

Do not let other people decide what you do and what you don’t in life. Why would you? These people do not have your talent, your beauty, nor your thoughts and for sure not your charme. This is your life you are living and you should be living it with the maximum of personal joy, because you won’t get back any second of it. So, the next time that you ask somebody for advice, take the advice if you need it, but then take your own decision and stand for it. Understand that when taking your own decisions there is no “right” or “wrong”. Even when you feel you were wrong about something you will see that the learning experience for you will be huge.

 

5 – DO NOT PUT OFF YOUR DREAMS

Dreams can be scary sometimes. Why? Because we risk a lot. We risk it not working out, and we might be ashamed about it. Especially when we turn older it is even harder to keep dreaming. We are constantly on the spot, often we represent a company and do not want to lose our job. We cannot make mistakes, so often we don’t try it at all. We don’t wont to be laughed at by our co-workers or other people. When you are scared remind yourself of this: why do you think kids can be so unbelievably happy? Because the don’t give anything about what other people are thinking, they just do whatever they want to do in this specific moment. And this makes them happy. If you have a dream you are already one huge step ahead of the most of us. You know what you want, you can picture yourself in a situation doing something you love. If you don’t know what you love anymore, take a sabbatical and figure out where you are heading. Dreams are good and you should use everything you have to follow your dreams in your life. Every person has a purpose on this planet and if it is not you fighting for your dreams, then what is it??

 

When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life. – John Lennon

5 lessons learned after taking a sabbatical

Whatever things you have stressed about before are not that important anymore when you come back.

As soon as you break out from your routine for a while you will see things from a completely different perspective. You will notice details you have not been able to see before and realize that other things are way more important than the problems you were trying to handle before taking a sabbatical. You will experience that the truly important things in life happen outside of work and you will start focusing on them even more.

A sabbatical will lead you to new inspiration.

When you break out of your usual habits and start meeting new people, these connections will bring a fresh wind in your life and lead you to different thoughts and experiencing new things. When you come back from a sabbatical you will be filled with new ideas and projects you want to make happening.

 

Not a lot of things will have changed when you return.

When you took some time to get away and travelled the world you will come back to your home and realize that everyting is exactly as it was before. While you have seen the most magnificent places in the world and talked to the most interesting people, at home everyone will have followed their routine. This is the “crunchtime” in which you will determine which parts of your old life are worth keeping and which parts are worth replacing.

 

There are more people living an interesting and unconventional lifestyle as you thought.

Once you break out of your life you will be surprised to see how many people are in the world that live a life which is sooo far away from the normal and they are still living pretty well outside of the status quo. You were able to connect to new people by having something in common, that you were not able to find with anyone in your old life. These new connections will help you achieving the new goals you have set yourself.

 

Connecting with new people comes easy when you’re happy and free.

You will be surprised of how many new friends you will make when you are taking a sabbatical.  Once you are happy and free and you only do what you like, you will enjoy interesting conversations and you have fun moments to share. Positive interaction with others is one of the things that make humans happy, and a sabbatical is the perfect start for it.

 

TED talks: Stefan Sagmeister about the importance of sabbaticals

TED talks believes there are “ideas worth spreading”. So do we. Please watch Stefan Sagmeister, an Austrian graphic designer and typographer who is living and working in New York City talking about the importance of Sabbaticals.