What I Wish I’d Known Before … Taking Time Off for Doing Something That Turned Out to Be Motivating, Enriching, or Transformative
I wish I’d known that it was something I shouldn’t have been afraid to do sooner. I was always worried that it would be an issue with my employer. Even though I had to burn several years worth of accumulated vacation, it was well worth it.
I tripped into an amazing pseudo-volunteer experience in Spain after taking some time off between jobs, and I think your readers would love looking into it if they have even a week to immerse in another world. The organization Diverbo is an English immersion program for Spanish-speaking professionals looking to further their English. “Volunteers” (native English speakers from all over the world) join the participants for a week at a resort where everyone is prohibited from speaking Spanish, and we spend meals and activities conversing, interacting, developing relationships, and learning about each other, all in the spirit of helping the Spaniards advance their language skills in support of career growth. It was a blast and free for volunteers (English speakers), aside from the cost of getting to in Madrid (transport to the resort, lodging, and meals were all covered by the program). Hoping I can go back soon.
Work isn’t everything.
Everyone else that didn’t have the experience didn’t understand. And I didn’t know how to manage the feeling of frustration that they didn’t get how great the experience was when I tried to explain. Reinserting myself into routine took awhile, but the lessons learned were lifelong and I’d do it again.
That taking more than the standard one business week off for a vacation offers much more opportunity and rejuvenation. I was able to spend 6 weeks in Europe (combined all my time off after a large project- thanks to my boss) and spent a minimum of two weeks off for several years. Most coworkers thought they couldn’t or the office couldn’t survive without them. Not true.
Time off – regardless of what you do – is itself motivating, enriching, and transformative. It isn’t so much about what you do rather, about your attitude while doing it. Time away from work is time well spent; for you, your employer, everyone.
To make sure that there is some type of follow-up plan in place to keep a proportion of the positive momentum going forward once you get back to “reality.”
That you have to make time to grasp opportunities and sometimes planning too far in advance limits special trips. About 15 years ago, we planned to go to Yellowstone because Uncle Tom lived in a big house close to the park. Never made it and Uncle Tom has moved so can’t stay at his place but could still visit. Had an opportunity to visit a special place given to me in January. Pushed my family to do this — one daughter in medical school and the other just starting PA school. Glad we did the trip as that person no longer works in the special place and if we had not taken the opportunity it would be gone.