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 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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