Having worked for over thirteen years, the associate director working at a leading IT company, could not suppress the voice from within recurrently asking her to unwind and reclaim her life and recharge herself. “I just wanted to slow down a bit; sit back, introspect and rethink my life’s priorities. I desperately needed to bring back a semblance of work-life balance into my life,” says Aparna.
On one hand various interests, unattended for lack of time, allured and beckoned her but at the same time the fear of losing out her well established position meddled with her plan. “Those fears were somewhat put to rest after I met with my seniors and realized they were already planning my next role for when I come back,” she shares. Realizing the significance of her emotional and physical presence in her children’s lives, and the need to de stress herself from a job that required frequent travelling abroad and working for long hours, she finally decided to take a breather. She then wanted to give more importance to one of her kids who was just entering teenage.
The decision to give up work at a time when one is making headway in the respective fields could be a tough one, considering the consequences and ever rising cut throat completion in the job market. But it is equally hard to muzzle the voice of the heart. For many, sabbatical from work purely means planning a rendezvous with the long lost hobbies and reconnecting with all the facets of life, which somewhat gets blurred once they completely dedicate themselves to demanding careers. The rat race and the competitive environment give little or no time at all for one to recall pleasures and pastimes, let alone sit back and practice!
Another IT woman, leading a successful career in her field, Srikala Gangi Reddy too made this unfaltering choice to give a pause to her work and says “the decision was about challenging the status quo and exercising a choice to live on your own terms and take a route that was different.” With thirteen years of experience, working in a multinational firm as a product manager, she still could not quash her penchant to take up art. For her, the temptation to follow her dream was too much to resist; the break was akin to oxygen needed to keep the artist within breathing. “I wanted to explore myself as an artist. I did pursue art while I was working. But spending time only on weekends did not provide the experience I was craving for,” says the sprightly woman. Stress and long working hours were just part and parcel of her roller coaster job, she describes. It does not come as a surprise when she says she does miss office environment, interacting with colleagues, and working in a team. But above all, she jokingly declares, not having a salary credit at the end of the month is what makes her miss her working days!
Going on a sabbatical came with strings attached for Vinutha P. Having worked as a software consultant for ten years, she was grappling with a plethora of issues at work place. Long work hours, painful commute, intense pressure, fussy team, and to top it all, a package that left much to be desired... All these issues persuaded her to take some time off from the taxing atmosphere of office.
“My decision was to take a break for three to six months and just relax at home. But unfortunately what was intended to be a short break stretched into a long one spanning for two years!” says she. Although she managed to keep herself occupied during that resting phase, she feels rest beyond certain limit becomes unexciting and boring. Sabbatical caused a literal pause in her career. Her decision of taking a break backfired when she tried to come back to work and realized the job market had changed and things were not the same. Competition had become tougher and her skills and knowledge trailed behind the present scenario in the industry. “This is when I got the pinch,” she states. Having tasted the downside, now she has a word of advice for any one opting to take a break. “I have had a bad experience and do not want to do that mistake again. You never know what you are in for tomorrow. Also when you return to work you need to compromise on your pay and also need to work harder to get back on the same track.”
All in all, a well-timed sabbatical could work wonders when one is disciplined enough to take it as a breather and get back on track soon after. A strong financial plan and a much desired activity to replace office work could do wonders for a woman on sabbatical. Of course, for anyone choosing to take a breather after reaching a secure position, the decision demands sacrifices, and the uncertainty about future often makes it a tough one. But in the words of Mark Twain, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do!”