So, you’re planning to take a year off! Here’s a list of typical reactions that I’ve gotten when I tell people I’ve taken a year off. I have to emphasise, none of these reactions are good or bad-nothing is. This is just a list to prep you for reactions you can expect to get. As always, in such things, the only thing you need to face the world, is the clarity in your mind 🙂

Existentialism
Existentialist me. From my Instagram project- #52Cards52Weeks

“How lucky is that! I wish that I could take a break!”

One of the most frequent reactions I get from everyone- friends, strangers, random shopkeepers, people I bump into when I take my dog for a walk! This could mean 2 things:

  • A positive verbal reinforcement: I do that too, to show my encouragement for a person’s decision. It’s just something we humans seem to do a lot…which is good 🙂
  • A genuinely unfulfilled wish: If they really want a break, maybe all they’re looking for is some guidance. In which case I direct them to my checklist

Only corporate executives can afford to take a year off.

I read this cute blog from Carol Schulte where she references John Maxwell about bridging the mental gap that people have before they start something.

The Perfection Gap- In order to do something that you want to, there is never a moment when you are rich enough. Or talented enough. The best way to learn to swim, is to start dipping your toes in the water.

So, don’t ever think that the ability to shape our lives the way we want to, is a privilege of the rich.

Have you given up on life?

(Or milder variations of this). I think this is a very fair and honest question. It’s good to probe and find out why someone that you know wants to take a break. Everybody eventually gets down to this need to know why, might as well be direct about it no?!

What the *! WHY?!

This always makes me laugh. This has got to be the verbal equivalent of a jaw-drop. It’s really folks projecting themselves in my shoes. When they do that it suddenly seems like they’re standing on the edge of an abyss (yes, the one that talks back). That can be quite a paradigm-shifting thought. Be patient with them. Often they are so different from you, their life principles are probably the polar opposite of yours. You need them in your life, because they can give very good advice from a perspective that you never thought of.

Do everything that you want to, am here for you.

Am sorry, but you are only going to hear this from your mom and if you are lucky, the rest of your family 🙂

Am so excited! Keep me updated!

These are the reactions that really give you space while at the same time letting you know that you’ve taken the “right” decision (for yourself). It’s even better when they follow up with you and ask for updates.

I’ve taken a sabbatical too, and here’s how it transformed me.

This is what you’ll hear when you start networking. Suddenly so many people seem to have taken a break that you realise that all of us live in a fishbowl of our own little worlds. We think that’s the only fishbowl, until the day you jump around and land up in the ocean. Or a soup-bowl (oh well, all good things end, so must today’s blog). Bonnes chances!

Posted by:Dechen

Hi! I write on sustainability, books and simply lying fallow. I've worked for 14 years in various industries, but nothing will mean as much as making a real difference through the advocacy of Sustainability. This is a topic that I think is critical in developing economies like India/South Asia.