The Sabbatical:

New Perspective, Rest, Education, Renewal


Welcome to 2015 everyone! Also called “rest with a purpose”, the sabbatical is an appropriate discussion after a good long holiday break! We hope that the holidays gave respite and reestablishment, and that you enter the New Year full of new energy and vision! If not, maybe it is time for a sabbatical.


The idea of rest is one we can all relate to, every week we look forward to a day or so of it. Even our language codifies the concept of rest: In Old English sabat means “Saturday as a day of rest”. An in Mosaic law, the seventh year was a sabbatical year, “in which land was to remain untilled and debtors and slaves released”. Universities often grant sabbatical years to their staff, not for rest but in order to focus and engage “in research or other activities that will advance the faculty member’s scholarly achievement or that will enhance the reputation of or otherwise benefit the university”.


What if you took that a step further? What if you took a year purely to advance your own interests with no other end goal than being curious and investigating something of value to you? Well designer Stefan Sagmeister does just that. Every seven years, Sagmeister closes his New York studio for a yearlong sabbatical to rejuvenate and refresh his creative outlook.


Sagmeister shares his perspective that rather than living the linear prescription of 25 years of learning, followed by 40 years of working, and then maybe 15 years of retirement, it is possible to cut out 5 retirement years and intersperse them throughout one’s working years.


On one sabbatical, Sagmeister spent a year in Bali. In his TED Talk: The power of time off, he explains the often overlooked value of time off and shows the innovative projects inspired by his time in Bali. In the video he discusses the experience and fun, and the projects that he engaged in. He comments that the work that comes out of these sabbatical years flows back into his company and into society at large, rather than just benefiting a grandchild or two.


Rob Reeves, CEO of Redfish moved the company to Mexico for a year back. It was not a sabbatical but he and the team that packed up and relocated to a foreign country for a new perspective. Looking back, he feels like while he did not create as innovative as Sagmeister designs, he and his family and the staff that embarked on the Mexican adventure gained new perspective, rich memories, and great human connections. And out of the experience manifested new possibilities, such as opening a new office on the East Coast of the U.S.


To be creative and think outside the box it is very useful to put yourself in a new situation, take yourself on an adventure, and push your comfort zone, whether it is on sabbatical, on vacation, or in everyday life.


What is your experience with sabbaticals?


About this post:

The recruiting team gathers weekly to consider and discuss various ideas that merit attention in business strategy, organizational behavior, and psychology. From thought leaders to innovative disruptors, these discussion stimulate new ideas that can be applied professionally and personally. We’d like to share what we are thinking about with you.

You can read related posts under the category stimulating ideas.


Discussion: Stefan Sagmeister’s TED Talk: The power of time off.