“Sabbatical” for Beginners

For those unfamiliar with the word ‘sabbatical,’ we present a dictionary definition: a period of paid leave granted to a university teacher or other worker, for study or travel, traditionally one year for every seven years worked. However, this situation is not limited to the academic world. One of the most famous examples is the designer Stefan Sagmeister. After watching this video, which my friend Pelin Kırca (who happens to be a student of Sagmeister) showed me a few years ago, I became aware of the situation and with this enlightening talk began to quickly undertake my own analysis. In summary, Sagmeister, who found the periods of work and retirement to be unfair, planned the entirety anew for himself. Using an average lifetime, he took five years away from a retirement of 15 years (65-80) and fed it into an average of 40 years of working life between the ages of 26 and 85, thus raising the age of retirement to 70. In other words, what seems to be an impudent demand is actually quite fair.

Of course he was also afraid of losing clients, being forgotten and erased from the market, and having to start everything from scratch. But none of these things happened, because when he returned to his New York office after a year in Bali, he was much more creative and full of new stories. Before I wrote this post, I researched how Sagmeister’s perspective (as well as the general concept) was shared by Turkish media outlets. Quite often I found critical definitions such as ‘wandering around aimlessly for a year.’ However, the reality is absolutely nothing like that. The real aim is freeing oneself from the risk of repetition and becoming more distinctive; finding prime life goals; and, most importantly, working for ‘yourself.’ Not for the university where you teach or the company that pays your wages.

Ok, so not all of us have the possibility to spend a whole year in Bali. (Let the ability to turn what seems impossible into a possibility be the subject of another post.) In this situation, my advice is to integrate the concept of ‘sabbatical,’ in short timeframes into your life. Perhaps one month, one day, one hour. Whatever the timeframe, exit that small world zoomed into with index fingers and reigned by computers and telephones, and work for yourself in the big world with real sounds and smells. Without playing the role of the victim, make a good plan by correctly specifying your priorities. For example, every Saturday at 3pm make an appointment with yourself at a café. For the project you’ve been dreaming about for a long time. When you get up from that table, I promise that nothing will be the same!



Translated by Feride Yalav-Heckeroth


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