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Desi Jagger's Blog

My P&G Story #11: The 3 unexpected benefits of my sabbatical

I had decided to leave my safe, well-paid corporate job and I thought:

 

“I might as well take a sabbatical now. Who knows when the next possibility might arise?”

 

Like most people, I wanted to take a break, to do a bit of travel and spend time with my family.

Unlike most people, I didn’t want to launch a business, ‘find myself’ or learn something new. Instead, I wanted to forget about work, to lose myself and to unlearn some of what I had spent the last 7 years learning at P&G. Mostly, I wanted to do absolutely nothing at all. This change of pace brought about some unexpected benefits.

 

BENEFIT 1: I GOT MY FIRST CLIENT

HOW I GOT IT:

I completely stopped talking about work. It was tough – everyone wanted to know why I had left P&G and what I was going to do next. It was really tempting to share my dreams, to analyze my fears, to recall each step of my journey. But I stayed strong and didn’t indulge them. Eventually I relaxed and started living in the moment. I was surprised how much there was right here, right now. The magic lay in the balance between my P&G past and my training and development future. I relaxed and opened up and when, out of the blue, a man from Bahrain asked me to become his coach, I accepted the opportunity.

I got my first client by living in the here and now.

 

BENEFIT 2: I DISCOVERED THE ‘BEING’ MODE

HOW IT GOT IT:

For a whole month, I did nothing. I stopped planning. I didn’t invite friends out. I didn’t go to yoga. I just woke up and let the day unfold. After seven years in a demanding and dynamic job, doing nothing was not just difficult, it was horrifying. I had nothing to accomplish and therefore no way to justify my existence. When I completely stopped doing stuff, I thought there would be nothing left. But there was. It was called ‘being’ and it had been there all along, buried under deadlines and often useless actions.

‘Being’ allowed me to be proud of who I was inside. It was a welcome break from having to prove myself by constantly ‘doing’. Now I can choose which mode I want to be in and switch when I need a change of perspective.

I discovered ‘being’ by intentionally pausing ‘doing’.

 

BENEFIT 3: I GOT MY CONFIDENCE BACK

HOW I GOT IT:

I had joined P&G straight out of university. The company was all I knew of the working world. It was P&G that taught me the principles-based thinking by which I operate to this day. It was P&G that equipped me with the one-page template which I still use. It was at P&G that I met some of my best friends.

During my sabbatical, I actively un-learnt the P&G ways. I sought different perspectives. I ripped off the ‘P&Ger’ label and tried the opposite of everything I used to do. I played being the opposite of who I used to be. I remembered who I was before I started work. I reconnected with my natural strengths, some of which had been suppressed because they didn’t fit with the corporate values.

Then I put both sides of me together – the P&G lessons, skill and experience and my natural talents and values. A new confidence emerged – one that was stronger and not limited to one organization.

I got my confidence back by separating my identity from my job.

 

Looking back, I realize I don’t have to wait for a sabbatical to experience these benefits again:

  • I choose to live in the here and now. Daily meditation helps me with this.
  • When things start to get out of control, I intentionally stop ‘doing’ and switch to ‘being’. Asking myself “Who am I being in the face of this challenge?” usually does the trick.
  • Whilst my personality is a big part of my work as a coach, I constantly remind myself that I am not my job. I haven’t fully mastered this, but I am working on it.

 

If you were taking a sabbatical now, what benefits would you like to experience?

How can you get these benefits whilst working?

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