On a houseboat, the boot
stripe is a trim strip between the bottom paint and the topsides. When we moved
into our boat, loading it with more gear than she carried as a vacation vessel,
the boot stripe had to be raised two inches. While we were literally
“rebooting” our water line, we were also rebooting our lives.
With help from a new book, Reboot Your Life: Energize Your Career and
Life By Taking a Break (Beaufort Books, $15.95), your liveaboard dream may
be more do-able than you think. The authors know their topic. One is an expert
in financial services. Another was security advisor to a United States vice-president
and another is a retired Fortune 500 president. Another “sabbatical sister” is
a careers expert.
They’ve taken 12 sabbaticals
among them. Known in academia but uncommon in other careers, a sabbatical is a
leave of absence without loss of seniority or benefits. Sometimes some salary
is paid. Employers may require that the time be used for continuing education.
The hope is that you’ll return to the job invigorated and smarter.
Is a houseboat calling you to Bali Hai? The
authors begin with formulating the dream. Your dream already involves cruising,
but there are many other considerations such as where you’ll go on the boat and
how long a sabbatical you’ll need.
Let’s say you have to comply
with company rules about getting a master’s degree while you’re gone. Or you
may be required to do charity work or update your professional skills. Have a
plan. You might cruise to a marina within commuting distance of a college, live
onboard while going to school, and cruise on weekends and vacations
Once you have a plan, the
authors suggest ways to present it to the boss. The next hurdle is finances.
The authors interviewed people in all ages and walks of life, from medical and
the ministry to blue collar workers. All had devised a financial plan, taken a
sabbatical and returned to “real life” energized as never before.
Funds are found in more
places than you think. Your company might provide a gift or loan. You might
have medical or vacation time coming to you. Some companies provide a
scholarship for additional education if you promise to bring your new skills
back to the workplace. Scholarships are also available from trade schools and
colleges, service clubs, charities, ethnic groups, etc. Income could also come
from renting out or sub-letting your house, getting a student loan or asking
family to help.
You could also do what we
did. We sold the house, cars and furniture and quit jobs. However, cutting all
ties is scary, and not really what a sabbatical is about. We were lucky and our
sabbatical turned into a new way of life, making a living as a travel writer
and photographer team.
This book has answers for the
inner and outer voices you’ll hear before, during and after taking a
sabbatical. Some friends and loved ones will cheer you on. Some will rain on
your parade. Inner voices may scream “Can’t” or “Hurry, push harder!” After
your sabbatical, the authors suggest that you take stock and regroup. You’ve
made a lot of changes. Some should be made permanent. The book’s checklists are
The personal stories of the
four “sabbatical sisters” are inspiring too. Jaye Smith founded a company that
would allow her to support her sister’s three children after her sister died.
When the children grew up she took a sabbatical, and then developed a new
career. Nancy Bearg was stressed out from her job, parenting and a divorce, so
she took a sabbatical. Rita Foley has taken four sabbaticals. Cathy Allen has
taken two, one of them 11 months long when she was in her 30s. She took another
in her 50s.
The authors advise that we
save 15 percent of our time for ourselves. That’s often easier said than done,
but we can usually care for others and our careers best by taking good care of
our own physical, spiritual and mental health. This book is more than pie in
the sky. It’s a step-by-step guide to the great escape. Perhaps it can float