The Power of Rest

By Erin Ewart

As I recently shared, I’ll be taking a sabbatical this summer in celebration of our eight year business anniversary.

As I prepare to head out on this break, I wanted to share a few thoughts on the power of rest and how we can all tap into it. 

As we’ve learned these past few years, rest is essential to persist through the challenges life throws at us. Especially for those of us working in social impact, it’s important to find a balance between taking action and supporting others and taking care of ourselves.

And yet it can feel hard and scary to actually take a break, even when you know deep down it’s what you need. 

This is one reason coaching is so powerful; I wouldn’t have followed through with this idea without the support and encouragement of my own coach, who helped frame this idea of a sabbatical with me. 

I feel very fortunate to be able to take this time off, and I wish it was more standard and expected for everyone to take longer career breaks periodically to rest and reflect. But even though sabbaticals are not yet the norm, taking time to rest is something we can all do. 

If you’re wondering how to make this happen for yourself, I’ll offer a few thoughts: 

1. Start building in more rest right now.  “Rest” often makes us think of sleep, but did you know there are actually seven kinds of rest we all need? Consider which are most important for you and how you can start to build them in, even in small ways, to your days and weeks. A few things that have worked for me in the past, from small to larger: short walks around the block in the mid-afternoon; a no-meeting day each week (amazing if you can swing it!); and a solo personal / professional retreat somewhere other than where I usually work, lasting anywhere from a few hours to a few days.

2. If you’d like to take a sabbatical yourself, learn more about the benefits and research whether your current organization has a policy in place. If not, consider advocating for one. Many employers are extremely concerned about attracting and retaining talent right now, and providing more time off is one of the easiest things they can do to keep their people. Trust me: it’s much easier for them to manage without you for a few months than to find someone new to replace you. And if you’re self-employed, start mapping out the steps you would need to take in your business to make a longer break possible. If Brené Brown can do it, so can all of us!

3. If you’re currently searching for your next role, it’s essential to build rest into your process. It is so easy to burn out during a job search, and making sure that you are taking time to restore your energy will help you stay true to your goals and pursue the opportunities that are right for you. Also, get clear on how much time off is ideal for you. Look at how much paid time off (PTO) employers are offering, and even more importantly whether people at your target organizations actually use their leave. And last but not least – when you make a transition, negotiate as much time off as possible between jobs. We’ve recently heard of more organizations offering PTO to use before starting a new role, and we love it!

I hope these spark some ideas for you, and if you have tips or best practices for incorporating rest or taking extended time off, I’d love to hear them. 

Wishing you a restful summer, and I look forward to sharing my insights and learnings with you when I return.

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