Presenting a Sabbatical Proposal

by Matt | 1 Year Sabbatical on March 24, 2011

Today I presented my sabbatical proposal to my boss.  I woke up late this morning and started feeling anxious almost immediately.  But as the time of the meeting approached calmness came over me.  This was it, my big moment to shine and sell this idea that I really believe in.  And so I did.

Presenting a Sabbatical ProposalIt’s amazing the things one can do when you speak from your heart with passion.  Words flow eloquently over your lips and sound authoritative; your posturing and demeanor speak of desire and passion so much that the person(s) you are speaking to can’t help but be a part of what you are describing.  That is how I felt today while presenting.

I am fortunate to have the best boss in the world.  I really mean that too.  I’ve worked for a lot of people and she is by far the best.  There are a lot of characteristics that make a good boss and mine boss has a lot of those characteristics, but this post isn’t about what makes a good boss, it’s about how my sabbatical proposal went down.

So let’s get on with the details as I’m sure you are dying to know.  I had spent the previous weeks writing up a sabbatical proposal.  I used a fantastic e-book resource from yourSabbatical.com called Negotiating Your Sabbatical (This is an affiliate link) and crafted my proposal to show the benefits to the company and how I thought we could make it all work.  I let a few trusted people read it and give feedback and based on that made some modifications.  I was actually quite pleased with the end result.  But I knew that this could still be a hard sell.

When you’re prepared, you’re more confident. When you have a strategy, you’re more comfortable.

There were a couple of things that I had going for me.  First is a great boss that knows the value of world travel and adventure as well as the benefit of exposing kids to the International scene.  Every few years she spends a month in France, she’s bilingual and she adores New Zealand.  The second thing is that our company recently made an acquisition in another state and there will most definitely be a need for a position similar to mine in that area but not for another year or so.  My name has come up as the person to take on that role.  So the timing on taking a sabbatical and coming back to fill that position was nearly perfect.

The recent acquisition was the first topic I brought up because it is the crux of the whole sabbatical plan.  The idea is to sell all of our stuff, spend a year in Indonesia and then return to take on a new position in a new location.  Unfortunately there are still a lot of unknowns on the needs and more specifically when those needs will need to be met.  It could be later this year; it could be 3 years from now.  It’s unknown.

Then I made my big move.  I started in on my desire to take some extended time for travel.  If you remember I had already met several weeks ago to lay the groundwork and get a feel for the response I might get.  That was a bold move and I’m not sure I would do it the same way again but it worked out for me.

How much time are you thinking”, my boss asked?

I hesitated for a second.  Should I say what I really want which is a year off or should I mellow it out with 6 or 9 months?  Then my real brain kicked in and started shouting “GO BIG OR GO HOME!!!”

I’d like to take a year sabbatical and live in Indonesia”, I calmly stated.

My boss didn’t even bat an eye.  “That sounds awesome and I think you should definitely do it”.  The first hurdle has been crossed successfully.  We talked a bit more about the personal benefits of taking this sabbatical and how we could reorganize the teams to deal with being a person down for a year and about the transition back into work when I returned.

Then she asked me a very pointed question and one that anyone who is presenting a sabbatical proposal should have an answer to.

“What if they decline your proposal? Will you still do this?”

See it’s not just your boss that you need to convince how important a sabbatical is to you and how beneficial it can be to the company.  Your boss has a boss who needs to be convinced.  Then Human Resources (HR) needs to be convinced.  So what would you do if your sabbatical proposal gets declined?  You need to know the answer to this.

My answer was that I would still go regardless. This is just that important to me and it’s the perfect time in my life and the lives of my young children to do this.  And my boss agreed with me.  So it’s on like Donkey Kong!!

Here’s the catch though. Our time frame is being adjusted and our sabbatical countdown timer will be reset soon.  We’ll be departing around September now and here are the reasons:

  1. A September departure allows us to enjoy one more Oregon summer with all the great weather, fresh local produce (strawberries, melons, blueberries, cherries etc.)  If there is any time of the year to be in Oregon it’s summer.
  2. It allows us to get our finances into order and save a bit more money.  We can also spend more time organizing and selling all our stuff during the months when it’s not pouring down rain (like it was today).
  3. We can get better deals on flights booking up to 6 months in advance.  I’ve already seen some great deals and am ready to lock into something soon.

I’ll learn more in the coming weeks regarding how the proposal is received by HR and whether that changes our plans at all.  Regardless though we are moving forward now and it feels exciting and overwhelming mixed with spikes of anxiousness.  But I keep thinking about the adventure and all the cool experiences we will have along this sabbatical journey and I feel good about it all.

In the coming weeks I’ll be posting a series on Crafting & Negotiating A Successful Sabbatical Proposal. If you’ve ever had any questions about how to write one and what to include and how to sell it all successfully then this will be the series for you.  I’ll key you in on some fantastic resources I used for crafting mine.  I’ll also include these tips in Sabbatical 101, the email series that is launching later this month.

How about you?  Do you have a successful sabbatical proposal story?

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Andrea March 24, 2011 at 7:18 am

Congrats – that must be such a relief! It’s so awesome that you have a boss that really values you like that.
Andrea recently posted..How to Have a Jolly Good Time in Valdivia Part One- It Begins With Chocolate

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Matt | 1 Year Sabbatical March 24, 2011 at 11:51 pm

In some ways it is a relief and other ways it ups the stress and anxiety levels by removing another barrier. Don’t get me wrong, I am amp’d up to begin this adventure and new chapter in our lives but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I still hold onto doubts and reservations. As self placed barriers are removed stress creeps in. I hope that makes some sense. It does help to have an understanding and appreciative boss.

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Srinivas Rao March 24, 2011 at 10:14 am

Congrats Matt. Welcome to a whole new adventure. It’s funny because I’m kind of in that same boat as you although I didn’t have much of a plan. In the moment of my hours being cut I said “how do you feel about me relocating?” I can’t wait to read about your adventure in Indonesia. The greatest thing about all this is that you are doing this with kids and a family, which so many people use as an excuse.

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Matt | 1 Year Sabbatical March 24, 2011 at 11:54 pm

Thanks Srinivas! I just read your excellent post on your first few weeks in Costa Rica. I imagine I will experience similar adventures and trials with a different cultural flair. And thanks for pointing out that I am doing this with my family. No one should ever use that as an excuse not to travel and experience the world and I hope that in some way I can show that it is indeed possible and beneficial.

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Ryan March 24, 2011 at 10:58 am

Matt,

How exciting your proposal was accepted! HUGE! Sounds like you put some really great thought into it, and you were prepared. And you’re right, it sounds like you have a really good boss.

Totally stoked for you, man!
Ryan recently posted..Why You Will Break Your iPhone Abroad And What You Can Do To Prevent It

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Matt | 1 Year Sabbatical March 24, 2011 at 11:56 pm

Hey Ryan! Yes, it is huge. We’ll have to see how it is received by the HR department but I am relived that I have the support of my boss. And putting some thought and preparation into a sabbatical proposal is the only way to go. How is Columbia treating you?

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Ali March 25, 2011 at 9:00 pm

Matt, this is so exciting!! I’m so glad it went so well, and I’m positive your proposal will do well up the food chain with the other people who need to approve it. This is going to be such an amazing experience for you and your family, and I love that you’re raising your kids to know the importance of travel. Us travel addicts will someday take over the world 🙂 I’m really happy for you!
Ali recently posted..Adventures in Flight Booking

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Matt | 1 Year Sabbatical March 29, 2011 at 12:34 am

Thanks Ali! It is exciting. I’m cautiously optimistic that it will do well further up the chain. We’ll see. My bosses boss had some concerns and indicated that my job may not be secure for that long period of time. I don’t think that will stop me however. This is just too important of a journey.

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Joel March 27, 2011 at 2:45 am

I was literally just thinking to myself — “I wonder how Matt’s proposal is coming.” Then I come over and read this 😉

Psyched that this went so well for you! Keep us posted on the progress!

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Matt | 1 Year Sabbatical March 29, 2011 at 12:35 am

Thanks Joel! Progress is being made day by day. We’re in decluttering mode now and researching tickets which means we will have a departure date soon which we all know is the most important factor in following through with an adventure.

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Erica March 28, 2011 at 3:40 am

Congratulations! We were really looking at asking for a sabbatical but they were only allowing up to 6 months and no manager has ever been approved for that much time off. More power to you though! It is so nice to have management who understands how important travel is.
Erica recently posted..Departure

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Matt | 1 Year Sabbatical March 29, 2011 at 12:38 am

Hi Erica. It is sounding like that may be the case for me as well. My boss pulled up some corporate policies and 3 months was the max. That doesn’t mean they won’t make an exception to the rule though so I am optimistic that my boss will find a way to make it all work. I feel bad that she may be stressed out by all of this but this is a journey and adventure that I just can’t put aside any longer.

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