A disturbing article in Forbes this week on why Millennial women are burning out by 30:
Today, 53% of corporate entry-level jobs are held by women, a percentage that drops to 37% for mid-management roles and 26% for vice presidents and senior managers, according to McKinsey research. Men are twice as likely as women to advance at each career transition stage. One rationale is that men are more likely than women to do things that help their personal wellbeing at work, thus negating burnout, according to the Captivate Network. Men are 25% more likely to take breaks throughout the day for personal activities, 7% more likely to take a walk, 5% more likely to go out to lunch, and 35% more likely to take breaks “just to relax.”
But it's not just Millenials who find themselves here. I've had plenty of conversations in the past several months with mid-career women who feel equally burnt out and are longing for quiet time to reflect and think through their next moves. This is one of the reasons I'm going away for a weekend retreat with 12 other women in December. We NEED time away.
Creating Your Own Sabbatical
Academics have long had the sabbatical to refresh and re-charge, although many times they also use that time away to write books or do research. Unfortunately, space and time to just "be" and to reflect on things that are important to you is one of our most precious commodities in our time-crunched age.
I've discovered that no one is going to hand me quiet time. The only way I'm going to get it is if I take it for myself. I have to see it as a priority in my life, as important (if not more so) as the actions I take and I need to make space for it to happen.
Here are some ways that you can try to find some space for yourself, even on a "time budget":
- Use the first hour of your day for rejuvenation, reflection and relaxation. I wrote a post earlier this year on how the first hour of your day sets the tone for the rest of the day. In that post, there are several ideas on how you can use that first hour as a sort of mini-sabbatical.
- Make Time for What Matters--Britt Bravo has an excellent series of guest posts in which various professionals share how they make space. Some good ideas here that might help you in creating your own sabbatical or retreat.
- Take a One-Day Sabbatical--I've done this several times myself and have begun pushing it harder with some of my career clients. It's best if you can schedule a few of these out over the course of several months, so you can get a sort of cumulative effect from the process. You might also find some ideas in this article on micro-sabbaticals.
- Plan a Weekend Retreat--A few months ago I emailed some friends I knew might be interested in going away for a retreat. Within a few days, I'd rounded up 12 other women who agreed to go with me to the Pendle Hill Retreat Center in Wallingford, PA. We're renting a house and will have access to beautiful grounds, an art studio, library and great locally-sourced meals. Here's our draft agenda if you want to try this idea with people you know.
You can also do a solo retreat--this guide might be helpful to plan with.
Regardless of how you do it, it's critical that you find time in your busy schedule for reflection and renewal, especially if you are in a creative or helping career. That "down time" is essential to rebuilding our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health.