I remember the first time I heard from a friend: “I am thinking about taking a sabbatical to study English in another country. I want to do an immersion in order to have a complete experience”. The thought I had was that he lived in a parallel universe. Unrealistic thought for a married mother with two kids … I didn't even waste my time imagining it, avoiding a likely frustration that would be the size of my imagination.
I always had to work hard to have a decent life. I am not talking about luxury! As Brazil's economy has always been very unstable, I never had the opportunity to take breaks in my professional career. Even to make a transition, I had to “change the tire with a moving car”. I remember a certain time in my life when I worked at a multinational company, managing a large sales team, doing a Master Degree, studying English, a baby at home to take care of, and a second son at 2 years old, and I have decided to change my field of work. Even in this chaotic scenario, I haven´t had a break to properly manage the transition time.
When I moved to France in 2014, I was surprised to see many young people across Europe taking a sabbatical before starting their professional career. Most of them used to travel to other countries in order to immerse themselves in foreign cultures, learn another language and have new experiences. But it wasn´t just fun … they used to work in order to afford the experience and fund their own bills. No dad´s sponsorship.
I had the opportunity to talk with several of those young people and they usually loved it! It happens that often they have changed the path and decided to embrace a new goal. One thing is certain: they came back happier, open for new opportunities and more mature. They had the chance to be by themselves, building number of stories and experiences, which fed their souls for a long time!
I was thinking out loud how enriching would be if we had such an opportunity at a mature age. We no longer have all the time in the world, nor are we willing to venture out in any way. But we have desires kept in our hearts that would make us rejuvenate if we were able to fulfill them, both personally and professionally. So what holds us back?
Usually, at midlife we are more organized in terms of finance, children are no longer dependent on us and with our life experience we already know how to manage life demands very well! It is clearly not that easy to drop everything all of a sudden and embark on an adventure, without planning for it, but it is also not a rocket science, that we might think it is.
In 2016 I was in London and I met a Brazilian friend, a doctor, who I hadn't seen in years. Toni decided to take a break from the routine of hospitals and clinics and lived 1 year in the British capital, improving his English, traveling around Europe and having a completely different work experience the one he had in the past 25 years. As he always enjoyed the nightlife and the hustle and bustle of big cities, he decided to work as a bartender in a Night Club. He had a plan to live out this experience and when he had the opportunity, he didn't think twice. I was very happy to see him undressing from a reality surrounded by pressures, responsibilities and status and allowing himself to live a dream!
Like Toni, I know some other people, including women (single, divorced and married - some even with teenage children) who decided and embarked on this adventure at maturity age. Although the decision and implementation are not always easy, it is always worth it!