Amazingly it has been 3 months since I decided to take some time off, at the top time of my career, to tend to personal goals, family needs, and to take a very well deserved break. So I started this journey concerned I would lose my identity, be bored out of my mind, would realize what a huge mistake I made, and not be able to re-enter the workforce. Boy I was wrong. Here is a summary of what I’ve learned.
Identity. Not lost. I have just morphed to focus on things that matter more than the corporate world, and have plenty of goals, achievements, friends and contacts to keep me engaged socially and spiritually. I no longer feel I “Live to Work” but rather have a great balance of taking care of business, being frugal, being healthy, and taking care of my personal responsibilities with a clear head. I know who I am. I’m not just “Corporate Woman”. I am so much more.
Boredom. I can’t say there has been more than a few hours that I wondered what would come next – so boredom was a false concern. I’m still working on my master’s degree, training for my triathlon has increased, I’m in great physical shape, and while simultaneously launching two kids into the world, there has not been a quiet moment. Sure, I suspect in the depths of Winter I might have some slow days, but when I look at jobs on Linked-In, I still don’t have interest in re-entering the workforce – I’m still busy and I’m not interested. I might change. I might not. Right now, I believe God has me doing exactly what I am supposed to do and I have complete faith that when the time is right, I will join the workforce again (ha, or NOT).
Contributing. I’m volunteering with two separate non-profits, and also will be volunteering for the Global Leadership Summit (2-day Christian-based leadership event) at the end of the summer. This is keeping me busy. I’m honing in on my patience and listening skills. I am learning more about human struggles and humility than I ever did while working. It is great for my character. So although I might not be the ultimate volunteer, I am gaining new skills, and I’m enjoying growth in a different way.
Intelligence and Staying Relevant. I stay on top of my field, reading new innovative stories, listening to TED talks, shaping my education further through my master’s program. No loss of intelligence, engagement, awareness of my field of professional work. It’s just wonderful to be able to fully digest and appreciate the material even if I’m not practicing it. I’m not running around like crazy, segmenting my thoughts. I can finish a sentence without 2 other things competing for my time. I think working like a fully over scheduled person made me sound ridiculous some times where I couldn’t finish my thoughts!. Maybe NOW when I’m not working on my career, I sound more intelligent! I stay on top of current events, and when we go out with friends, I am fully engaged. So, do I question my relevance? No. It’s just a different kind…still as valuable.
Now, I know the time is coming where my youngest son will go off to college. Right around that time my husband will be retiring early. We have a lot of things to see, a lot to do, great kids to spend time with, and a lot of camping/visiting/travelling/trying new things on the agenda. Maybe selling a property or two. Bike across Iowa anyone? Hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon? Yosemite? Yep, all in the future. To date I’ve achieved my other small time goals, now it’s time to continue to expand my horizons on other bucket items I’ve always wanted to do.
I realize I’m fortunate. My time is a gift, and not everyone can do this. Everyone has a different story, a different set of responsibilities and what I’m doing works for ME. It won’t work for everyone. I am not clear what the future holds for me, and maybe in another 3 months my perspective will be different. Regardless, for now I’ll close down my blog. This has served it’s purpose for me, and I have heard it’s been helpful to many friends, co-workers and “questioners” out there. What did surprise me is how many people either have taken a sabbatical, never returned after a sabbatical, or jumped into an awesome new career after taking time off. This is not an odd thing to do anymore – it’s a normal thing to do – so you need the bravery to make the jump. I urge anyone, if you’re in a spot that you need to take a break – you have to do it. Life is not for waiting. It’s not for safety and being careful, and not experiencing the life around you. It’s not a life of working and not living. Take the time. Smell the fresh Spring rain. Enjoy every flower coming out of the ground, and actually whistle as you mow your lawn. Sweat in the sun, and sleep well at night. Life is to be experienced. Not wasted in an office.