Kathryn Walker-Eich of Shields Township

Kathryn Walker-Eich is an entrepreneur working out of Shields Township in Lake Forest, IL. In the article below, Kathryn discusses ways to successfully plan a sabbatical, and how to return from leave with a new sense of appreciation, goals, and a new mindset.

A sabbatical is a chance to recharge your batteries while focusing on interests you’ve left neglected for too long. The trick, though, is to maintain purpose during your break. Rather than treating it like a vacation, have a goal and an outcome in mind before you take a single day off. That way, you can return to work with new perspectives and appreciation for what you do. After five months of planning while still working full time, Kathryn and her Golden Retriever headed for a one-year cultural immersion in Europe anchored from an apartment in Madrid, Spain.

If you’re feeling burnt out or stuck in a rut, maybe now’s the time to take a sabbatical. Kathryn Walker-Eich of Shields Township says that by planning ahead and making your wishes known now, you can benefit from a retreat and return to your profession a better person. In the long run, it could even prove to be your smartest career decision.

Why Take a Sabbatical?

Life is hectic and work certainly doesn’t make it any easier. The daily grind of a 9-to-5 job, office responsibilities, emails, meetings, phone calls, and the constant buzzing of notifications slowly wears away at our mental and spiritual fortitude, leaving us burnt out and dejected by the time we’re 40 says Kathryn Walker-Eich of Shields Township.

A sabbatical can help prevent this by giving you a much-needed break from work. It allows you to focus on other aspects of your life that you’ve been neglecting, such as your health, relationships, and hobbies. In turn, this can make you a more well-rounded person, which can improve your work performance when you return.

A sabbatical can also help you deal with major life changes, such as the death of a loved one, a divorce, or a job loss. Kathryn Walker-Eich explains that these transitions can be difficult to navigate, and a sabbatical can give you the time and space you need to grieve or make other necessary changes.

Lastly, a sabbatical can simply be a way to take a much-needed vacation. If you’ve been working non-stop for years, taking some time off to travel, relax, and reset can do wonders for your mental and physical health says Kathryn Walker-Eich of Shields Township.

What to Remember as You Plan a Sabbatical

A sabbatical is more than a vacation so don’t spend it in bed or doing laundry. It’s an opportunity to rediscover sides of yourself lost in the past and tap into your inner being. Kathryn Walker-Eich describes it as turning on, tuning in, and dropping out; going on that trip you’ve had planned for years but never taken; finally writing that book!

To make the most of this time, it’s important to prepare. So, as you start planning, keep these points in mind:

Forget about time – Your sabbatical shouldn’t be defined by a traditional work week. After all, it’s a break from the norms that defined your life before. Take as long as you need, whether that’s a few weeks, a few months, or even a year as Kathryn did. Find yourself and then return when you’re ready.

Plan around low seasons – Most businesses go through high and low seasons when business starts to dip off. Kathryn Walker-Eich of Shields Township recommends planning your sabbatical around a time when business is normally slow. You wouldn’t be doing as much work then anyways so why not close for the season and recoup in time for the next year?

Plan your finances – Unless your business can stay open while you’re away or your employer is willing to pay for your time off, you’ll have to plan your finances accordingly. The objective is to decide where to go and to not go until plenty of money is saved. In Kathryn’s situation, she rented her home for one year to cover the cost of her Madrid apartment. The financial goal is to plan all main sabbatical events and add a 50% contingency. Don’t go unless this can be accomplished unless one is content to scale back the scope of the sabbatical. Kathryn says she was not willing to do that. This meant arranging the best caregiver for her dog when her sabbatical plan called for her to leave the dog at the Madrid apartment and spend ten days in Israel, and a week in Morocco. All sabbatical events and contingencies must be planned. Kathryn allowed a 150% cost factor to guide her savings goal.

Be transparent with your employer –You’ll have to start negotiating your sabbatical well in advance to guarantee that you have a job to come back to. Give at least a few months’ notice and stress that a sabbatical will make you a better employee. Kathryn Walker-Eich says to highlight how you’ve benefited the company and that your skills are still in demand. If your boss agrees, you should be in the clear.

Kathryn Walker-Eich of Shields TownshipKathryn Walker-Eich of Shields TownshipMost importantly, though, don’t forget why you’re taking a sabbatical says Kathryn Walker-Eich of Shields Township. It’s not uncommon to reach a point where you wonder what you’re doing. Tap back into the feelings you had at the start and stay focused on your own self-improvement. When you come back to the working world, you’ll look back on this time and appreciate the growth you’ve experienced.

The Bottom Line

Humans weren’t made to live 9-to-5 lives spent grinding for a corporation. If you’re feeling burnt out or unfulfilled, a sabbatical can help you restore your mental health and return to the complete, appreciative person you once were. Take time to prepare accordingly and stay focused on a final result—self-actualization.