When I started looking for information about how to structure my sabbatical time, I found some good general resources, but I couldn’t find quite what I wanted. Many websites offered suggestions for corporate folks who were looking to do volunteer work abroad. I sort of already do that, given that I work for an international health organization. Other sites focused on long leaves and world travel, putting your life in a backpack and hitting the road. I knew I’d have 3-6 months, at most, and I wasn’t interested in traveling extensively without my husband, who only has a few weeks of vacation time.
I went to a fun, well-organized gathering of people planning “career breaks”. There were a lot of inspiring stories and information shared about budgeting, solo traveling, culture shock and more. But nearly everyone I met there was planning at to take at least a year off in between jobs. Most were doing round-the-world travel with long-term volunteer stints mixed in, teaching English or working in an orphanage. While the experiences shared were varied, there was one thing that was consistent: Bangkok. The most frequent piece of advice I received was, “Whatever you do, start your trip in Bangkok! Thailand is incredible and so cheap!”
It was almost impossible to explain that I had no desire to go to Bangkok.
What I really wanted to get from the event was for someone to tell me HOW to figure out what I wanted to do. What would make me feel challenged and engaged, but also rested and restored? What was my Bangkok?
I think one way to answer that question is to think back on all the times you’ve said, “One day, when I have time, I’d like to…”. How do you finish that sentence? If I stopped you on the street and asked you that question, what would you say?
Better yet, if I asked your spouse, your closest co-worker, your buddy from college, what would they say? What’s the thing you’ve been going on and on about for YEARS, testing the limits of the patience of those nice folks in your life? Out with it. You’re boring the hell out of them and they’re just too polite to say, “For the love of God, will you just go DO IT already?”
There is it. That’s your Bangkok.