Afraid You’re Becoming Boring? Ask Madeleine

Dear Madeleine,

I have been with the same organization for eight years. My company offers anyone who has been here for seven years a reduced pay, three-month sabbatical. My boss keeps pestering me to schedule it and take one. (I totally get that this is a good problem for me to have.)

I don’t have a partner or kids. I know I should take advantage of this opportunity, but I have no idea what to do! I have been thinking about it for years and have always thought something would come to me, but it hasn’t. I am interested in a few things, but none quite enough to take a pay cut and leave the flow of my job.

I am at the point now where I think maybe I’m just not that interesting a person if all I really care about is my job. I am also worried that I will take my sabbatical, it won’t be the best thing ever, and I will have wasted my time and money. Any ideas would be appreciated because I feel stumped and—


Dear Pressured,

I think the pressure to do something brilliant with your sabbatical makes it hard to be creative. My first thought was how jealous I am—but then I started wondering what the heck I would do if I had three months of footloose and fancy free. It is, in fact, kind of hard unless you’ve always wanted to write a book or travel all over the world, or unless you have an extensive bucket list.

I don’t know that you need my ideas, but I do have a couple of thoughts for you. Maybe, if we’re lucky, my readers will have some more suggestions in the comment section.

  • What do you do in your free time? There might be some clues there. If you cook, maybe cooking school? If you do yoga, a yoga retreat?
  • Do you volunteer? Maybe there are service opportunities in that area.
  • You could go talk to your HR partner and see what other people have done. Your company may have service opportunities for sabbaticals in place. One of the organizations we work with has something called a Social Sabbatical where employees get to go do service work for a month. The company that organizes it is called Pyxera Global.
  • Use my BFF Google to come up with some ideas. Look at this site I found: 100 Things to do with Your Sabbatical. I want to do about 92 of them.
  • Talk to your friends. If you have always talked about wanting to do something specific, they will know.
  • Is there something specific you could learn that would make you even better at your job? That might be an avenue.

The most important thing is to do a bunch of research. Then put a stake in the ground and take the leap. Just changing up your routine and learning something new will be good for your brain and your soul. It probably doesn’t have to be the whole three months—maybe you will only want to take a month or two. Anything you do will be an experience and a learning opportunity. But if you don’t take the opportunity to do something, I am afraid you will regret it.

Let me know what you end up choosing.



About the author

Madeleine Homan Blanchard is a master certified coach, author, speaker, and cofounder of Blanchard Coaching Services. Madeleine’s Advice for the Well Intentioned Manager is a regular Saturday feature for a very select group: well intentioned managers. Leadership is hard—and the more you care, the harder it gets. Join us here each week for insight, resources, and conversation.

Got a question for Madeleine? Email Madeleine and look for your response here next week!

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