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By Steve Jones,

It's time.

At least, it's the year for me. I've worked at Red Gate for 5 years now and I've earned a 6 week sabbatical. My boss asked me recently what I might do, and I wasn't sure. I haven't really thought much about what I'd want to do with a sabbatical, and so I did what and modern IT pro would do: I asked Twitter.

It didn't turn out so well, but perhaps because I hadn't defined very well what a sabbatical is. It's not a vacation, and not a 6 week break from work involving the XBOX. Our CEO scored a number of sabbaticals (see the image below from the Book of Red Gate) in terms of what they accomplished. As you can see from the scores, the idea of the sabbatical is that is provides you a break from work, but that break should be spent somehow trying to improve or grow yourself. 

Note that this isn't necessarily based on work, though it could be. For example, I could write a book, or make a serious attempt. I have had a few ideas, such as spending six weeks working for a charity full time. Perhaps I could find an intensive course in some subject that I'd tackle for short period of time. There are lots of choices, but I have a few restrictions as well.

I can't travel and leave home for a substantial period of time. My wife's business is busy during the summer and I need to be available to help manage the ranch and kids. I also travel enough that I'm not looking to be out of town more than I already am. It also isn't a once in a lifetime event (hopefully), so I'm not looking to spend $10,000 or more for some growth at this point in my life.

I am looking for ideas from people, as are a few others that have sabbaticals available from Red Gate.  I have options, but I'd like to think deeply about the pros and cons of my choices, and take this seriously as a chance for personal growth. Six weeks isn't a lot of time, but it's more than I've ever taken at a time away from work in decades. I greatly appreciate the opportunity that Red Gate is giving me, and don't want to squander my time, or their money.

Note: lots of companies offer sabbaticals as a benefit, including Microsoft.

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Steve Jones