Sabbaticals Are More Than Just An Intentional Reset. Here’s Why.

By: Naomi Matlow

Most things in nature, from the phases of the moon to the growth of a tree, is cyclical. Western worldviews have ingrained in many of us a linear perspective of time, whereas the earliest human traditions, for example in Native American thought, life is seen as cyclical and circular– one begins where one ends. Differing views on the concept of time as either cyclical or linear in nature is a philosophical argument for the ages, yet it is interesting to point out that our contemporary concept of a “sabbatical” takes a page out of a cyclical view of time in its essence.

Seeing time as a cycle rather than a straight line from point A to B reminds us that time isn’t something we can master or beat, rather it is something to be attuned to and embraced in the present. The very word “sabbatical” comes from the word “Sabbath” referring to the seventh day of rest in the week of creation from the Book of Genesis. The modern weekend (whether for you that means that’s Saturday & Sunday; Friday & Saturday; or what weekend!?) is built on the idea of taking a conscious rest, cyclically. The concept of an intentional rest to recalibrate and reenergize is in our cultural DNA.

Furthermore, it is becoming more widely known that upon return from a sabbatical, productivity and focus on the jobs at hand are increased. In response to the importance of sabbatical leave, professor and researcher Robert Austin of Copenhagen Business School remarked, “New environments, fresh perspectives, and unfamiliar routines boost your creativity”. It is no surprise that 25 percent of Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For offer their staff sabbaticals today.

We’ve heard it hundreds of times from Unsettled alumni. Their sabbaticals, transitions, and intentional breaks from their routines help re-energize them, provide them with a new perspective, and help them be more creative in their day-to-day lives.  

If we choose to mirror our natural surroundings and see time as a cycle, rest and renewal is essential to the process of our continuous growth. We cannot be our best selves if we are lacking the energy, resources, and capacity to flourish. So, where do you want to take your sabbatical?


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