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Sabbatical Chronicles - The Return

If you've been following my post, you know I have been out on my sabbatical from work for the last 5 weeks. It's amazing is. It's the longest. Period of time since I started working. When I was probably 15 or 16. Thirty-five years, if I'm doing my math right. I'm never good at math these days, so I'll be 50 this year. Yeah, roughly thirty-five years. That I've been away from work. On vacations or one thing, but this I totally unplugged. Like totally unplug. No work emails, no work phone. Everything was shut off. I could access things if I needed to, but I did nothing work related...that whole time.

While I was out or right when I was going out on sabbatical, a major shake-up took place at my job in terms of the organization I worked for. You know, major movement or a total realignment. Managers being moved to different teams, teams being moved to completely different departments, the whole structural makeup of the entire department changed. My role hasn't really changed, but my alignment did, so it's probably easier for me than most. But on this first day back, having conversations with people, I was reminded that work colleagues become your family. Because realistically you're working 40 plus hours a week and you spend more waking hours with them than you do with your family. Whether you like them, don't like them. Love them. Barely get along with them, barely tolerate them. Whether you hate your job, love your job. Everything, just like with a family. So, for something like this. A dramatic change, it's actually not just dramatic; It is traumatic. And then I don't think people really understand what the impact is beyond, "well, is my job changing?" "What am I going to do differently with newer people. You kind of have to figure out. Where they stand. Knowing their role. Knowing how to do your job is one thing but knowing where you fit within a structure, a family structure. Knowing the nuance, learning new people, learning how to interact with your new team members or manager. You know everyone does things a little bit differently. So if you're part of the team and you had no say in the new direction; it could feel, you know, a bit off putting. If this is your first corporate job a and you're in that one to five year range, you've probably never experienced anything like this. So maybe it's easier for the newbies. But for those with five, ten, fifteen or twenty years, you may have had changes like this in your career, or maybe not.

So what does that mean to you? Well for me. It was like returning from a trip and you come back to an alternate timeline. For Star Trek fans, you know, the mirror universe. So it's not like everyone's in the evil Federation now. Terrorizing the Galaxy. It's kind of the same, you know, Back to the Futuresque. You know you change one thing, you come back and the people are the same, but their roles are different. They have different titles, they're in different places. And maybe someone did grow a goatee and they're not evil, but everything is different. For children that have been children of divorce, you feel like you have no say. You have no control. It's like your family's been broken up. For some, they'll flourish in a new environment while others it will take them a little bit longer, but either way, from what people have told me, it was really emotional. You finally found what works for you in your professional life and now y7ou have to deal with the new normal. Yes, you have a job. Yes, there are no layoffs involved with it, so It's going to give people new opportunities. But human beings like the familiar. We like the comfort of knowing where we fit. So now you're looking to the left to the right. You knew everything you had to do to be successful or maybe you thought you did. What happens now? I just hope that. People are given the opportunity and the grace needed to find their way through. Not having the reaction of, well, the higher ups, they don't care about us. We all have to remember that decisions like this don't happen in a vacuum. And senior leaders take into account things like that. Sometimes they get a hit, sometimes they swing and miss. The human factor, it is hard to figure out that piece.

How do we manage the human factor. Not everyone is good at it. Some managers, they are really good at leading people. Some managers are really good at leading processes. Some have a good combination. It doesn't make one better than the other, but understanding that, the people factor such a big part of it. Just remembering to have empathy and sympathy. Really give people the grace they need. And allow people to feel what they feel. You know, it's like losing a friend, even a family member. You go through those five stages of grief. And some it's going to hit differently than others. I know I'm thankful that I didn't have to experience that period, because sometimes you know, you see someone crying. Sometimes you cry. Because you're empathetic, you feel it. You know you understand what it's like to be sad when you see someone else going through it, it pulls that emotion out of you. In this scenario, I wasn't here when people went through those stages. I was allowed to experience a soft re-entry.

Work life balance is so important. People need to understand this, and companies need to understand too You need to take your vacation time. Need that time to recharge their batteries. And the vacation isn't a vacation if you're still plugging in to work devices. As workers, as managers, we have to do a better job overall. Where the world is today. we're connected to everyone and everything all the time. These computers in our hand, these smartphones. There is not a moment when you're not connected. What I was able to do during my time off was really disconnect. No thinking about work. No thinking about what I have to do the next day, the next meeting. The next report. The next fire to put out. All of that was gone. And I really do feel refreshed. It was a reminder that you really need to take the time to smell the roses. Whether it's a day here or an afternoon there. Do things that you like do; things that you love. There's one thing I can say over and over again, and I learned; time off is of paramount importance. Time with your family or being able to focus on something that you love. Be able to have something to do that's just for you. Or just for you and your children and you and your partner. Of for your fur babies. Work hard, but play hard, I think that's one of those t-shirt or button sayings.

Work life balance.

Take 5 minutes here. 5 minutes there. Take a 20-minute walk. Go stand outside. Go sit in the lobby. We can't be so hyper focused on any one aspect of our life that everything else or anything else suffers. Yeah, I said it twice. It's probably more important.

You can look physically healthy, be a mess emotionally and spiritually. All of us are probably on straw breaking the camel's back away from falling apart. And we're terrified. we don't know what we're doing. Barely hanging on. But knowing that other people are barely hanging on too, sometimes that helps. And just knowing that, you can make it through. Take the time. Enjoy the time. Do something that you love. Hopefully you have a job where you can step away. Breaks are import. Sleep is important, rest is important. But mental rest too. It's not just physical, mental rest is equally important.

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