The saying goes, ‘all good things must come to an end’, and to a certain extent that was true on the morning of 15 October when my sabbatical officially ended and I returned to work.

However, thankfully, I was able to view it more as one good thing ending and another starting – I was genuinely looking forward to getting back to work, seeing my colleagues and finding out what had gone on in my absence. Which was exactly what I had hoped for at the start of my sabbatical; after 41 years of work I wanted to take some time out to reset myself mentally, to spend time with family and friends and do some travelling. But I also hoped that towards the end of the two months I would feel reinvigorated and ready to return to work, rather than dread it – and that’s exactly what happened. Consequently, I’m now going to be an advocate of the sabbatical – I think for individuals and companies there could be a long term gain for a short term, albeit not insignificant, investment.

So, what did I learn?

Relaxing needs to be worked at.

retirementI recently read this quote by Sir Walter Scott, ‘To enjoy leisure, it is absolutely necessary it should be preceded by occupation’. I would have to subscribe to that thought. Whilst I was off I often felt the need to be doing something. In fact it was almost a feeling of guilt about not doing something, as though I was wasting time. However, once I had done something meaningful I could then enjoy some downtime. I guess this means I won’t be retiring anytime soon.

Checking emails is a hard habit to kick.

My promise to myself at the start of the break was to not open any work emails. I didn’t, but even in the last week I still wanted to.

ipadI came back to 2,658 emails but I’m absolutely convinced that I made the right decision. Many of those emails were easily dealt with (I mean deleted) but there were a few that would have concerned me had I read them while I was off, which would have defeated the object. Of course, I had put contingencies in place for while I was away and my colleagues were more than capable of dealing with any issue that arose.

The other thing that I did was to ask all my colleagues not to copy me in to any emails unless they thought it was essential I knew about something on my return. They followed this request to the letter, which undoubtedly kept the email count down. I think there is a lesson for us all in that; do we unnecessarily copy people into emails, perhaps to protect or promote ourselves in some way?

Time still flies by.

I now understand why I hear newly retired people saying they don’t know how they had clock-63enough time for work – you do things at a slower pace, perhaps stopping for a chat, a coffee or a bit of daytime TV because you know you’ve got time on your hands. As a result, I look forward to retirement without the concern that I’ll get bored. However, I want a bit more money in the pot to ensure that I’m able to do the things I want to. That’s why I spent some time reviewing all my existing pension arrangements and have made changes, including increasing contributions.

I will time my retirement so that it starts in the spring.


I’ve often heard it suggested that it’s better to start your retirement in the spring or summer months when there’s more chance to be outside and active as opposed to retiring in autumn or winter when you’re swaddled in warm clothes with the heating turned up and suffering from SAD. 

I can now see that some months of warm weather activity would help the transition into full retirement.

I now view my sabbatical as an investment. Of course it cost me money to be off work for that period of time but at the moment I certainly view it as money well spent. If, as a result of a couple of months off, I’ve lengthened my career by a few years then it will have been a wise investment and I’d like to think the company will have benefitted also.

I said I’d be back – I am! 

Posted by Alan Morahan

Topics: Next Generation Savings

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