I recall the scene well. It was five years ago, at one of the first Actionable quarterly retreats I attended. I had only been an employee for about six or seven months, and Chris had whisked our small team—then comprised of only about four or five individuals, including myself—off to Blue Mountain (it turned out the place was teeming with Elvis impersonators that weekend, but that’s a story for another time). These retreats, then and now, are an invaluable opportunity for our virtual team to get together in person and look back at the last quarter and plan ahead for the one on the horizon. It also allows us to socialize and have some fun. There was one thing that Chris mentioned that weekend that stuck with me: he told us that we were each welcome to take a sabbatical at some point.
A sabbatical, I thought. Usually they’re only available to individuals in the academic or religious fields, or so I believed. However, while they’re still not exactly commonplace in the 21st century workplace, more organizations are beginning to embrace them. Leaders are waking up to the fact that they’re a great opportunity for employees to take time away from their jobs and everyday life and do something that they’re passionate about. I filed the prospect of a sabbatical away, and vowed to myself that someday I would take advantage of it.
While I didn’t exactly know when I’d get around to using it, I knew exactly what I’d use it to do: travel. I’ve been fortunate enough to travel a bit over the years and even live abroad, in London in 2013, fulfilling a big item on my bucket list. That was another ambition of mine that came true because of Actionable. As I mentioned, Actionable is made up of a virtual team and we work in a ROWE environment. That means we work when, where and how we want (with a few small caveats). That’s not an invitation to goof off. Like working for any organization, traditional or otherwise, if we don’t deliver results, we’ll be looking for another job.
Because it doesn’t matter if I work from home or Timbuktu, I was able to pick up and move to London, a city that I had never visited but knew would immediately feel like home (it did). This is just one of the many benefits of working for Actionable. The sabbatical is another.
Fast-forward to December 2015. After being home for two years, I was again getting the itch to travel and this time on a larger scale. After doing some research and establishing a budget of how much this trip around the globe would cost, I nervously approached Chris. The sabbatical really hadn’t been mentioned again and our team had grown so much, so I wasn’t sure how he was going to react. But, I needn’t have worried—he was 100% on board and completely supportive.
After almost a year of planning, I’m looking forward to my six month sabbatical. Not only to see some of the places I’ve always dreamed of—the Great Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx, Venice’s Grand Canal, the Taj Mahal in India—but also for the opportunity it will afford me to break away from a job I love and gain some clarity on how I want my role to evolve upon my return. We’re at a unique juncture in Actionable’s history when our roles are still malleable enough that they can be adapted to our own unique skills and passions. It will also be a huge boost for my creativity, not to mention an exciting educational experience. I don’t think anyone can travel the world and come back unchanged.
I feel incredibly fortunate to work at an organization like Actionable where something like a sabbatical is not only offered, but embraced. Without the support of Chris and my colleagues, this wouldn’t be possible. I’m grateful to each of them for helping make this dream of mine come true.