This time the blog is about my personal experience of planning what to do during a sabbatical break from work.
When the opportunity to take a sabbatical from IBM first came up, I asked myself is this a good idea? There were obviously financial, career and personal aspects to consider. The assurance (or is it really insurance?) that I’d return to IBM on the same salary helped a great deal, as did the advice, guidance and supporting words of a few trusted mentors inside and outside of work, including Mrs Morgan herself. So in the end it didn’t take me long to say a big “Yes”.
In parallel I realised it was important to start planning how I’d make the most of my time. I searched the internet and did a little reading, picking out articles from others who had gone through the same process. Being a list man I created a starter menu of the things I wanted to do.
Family and home related items flowed out quickly. I wanted to spend good quality time with the family, including time with my younger daughter before she goes to university and visit my older daughter during her year abroad as part of her languages degree. A few small targeted holidays would be nice. We have a friendly competition at home where each country you visit earns you a point. It would be good to get a few more points during the next year and in any case studying maps of the UK and wider world is fun in itself.
What else did I want to do? Start going to music gigs again – already started that one – tick! Go to some sporting events that I’ve never been to. This will include in 2016 going to my first ever rugby league and cricket test matches.
In addition to spectating I want to be more active – more walking days and half days with Mrs M and friends which I really enjoy – and start playing tennis again for fun after a quarter century or more of a break. There are small projects in the garden that will only take a few days but I never seem to have the time for, such as clearing a bed and creating a new summer and autumn raspberry area. Completing these would be great.
The list was already getting quite long but I knew I also wanted one or two “anchor projects” to focus on. What could these be?
Taking a step back I asked myself what do I really enjoy in work? I’ve been fortunate to have had some great roles in IBM, focused on collaborative innovation and practical use of technology. I like working with teams and clients. I enjoy the innovation master classes and wider training I’ve developed and delivered to IBMers in many countries. I love working with teams of student interns on Extreme Blue client innovation projects.
How could I build upon some of these areas during my sabbatical? As I already had good connections with a number of universities, this seemed a good route to explore and I began discussions with university contacts. Mutual areas of interest were covered. The word “innovation” kept cropping up and before long discussions morphed into formal Visiting roles with Leeds and Loughborough Universities.
Guest lectures at Leeds University Business School (pictured) are already in the diary, together with input into new innovation related course modules. The academic angle will be a key part of my sabbatical and I’m really looking forward to working with existing and new friends, colleagues and students at Leeds and Loughborough. Moving forward we’re investigating areas of wider collaboration, including research topics and perhaps even a book.
There was another thing to add to the list. A non-work, non-family related interest of my own. As part of my sabbatical planning I signed up for a Creative Writing evening class at York University’s Life Long Learning Centre. I’ve already started this and getting a huge amount from it. Its an ideal thing to do during the sabbatical as mid-week classes were almost impossible beforehand, as often I didn’t know where I’d be from one week to the next. Where this one will go who knows but the fact that I’ve started writing for fun again is enough for me.
So, with a few things still to add, such as a volunteering activity, plans for the sabbatical are already very full – no daytime TV for me. I’ve created a spreadsheet based diary of the coming months – and the days and evenings are filling up. I appreciate how fortunate I am to have this opportunity and plan to make the most of it. The last item on my sabbatical planning list was to create and maintain this blog – so here we go. Look out for updates on roughly a monthly basis from now on. Your feedback is very welcome…