Benefits of Using a Career or Sabbatical Coach

[singlepic=1662,150,,,right]Deciding to change your career or take time off from your current job can be very challenging on the mind and soul. Add travel plans on top of that and you may get discouraged enough to abandon your career break dreams. Tara Russell, a certified life & career coach through her company Three Month Visa, shares with us the benefits of using a coach to help guide you through this life-changing experience.

What are the benefits of a travel sabbatical and what types of activities do you recommend to your clients?
I think the greatest benefit of travel sabbaticals can be summed up by one of my favorite quotes from travel writer Pico Iyer: “Travel is like love: It cracks you open, and so pushes you over all the walls and low horizons that habits and defensiveness set up.” When we are home, we can begin to define ourselves by our routines and labels (i.e. our careers, our consumer habits, etc.) For example, I’ve had clients come to me and say “I’m a top-level executive consultant with 15 years delivering Six Sigma expertise to tech firms in Silicon Valley” or “I’m an eco-conscious soy-latte-drinking, Prius-driving reusable-grocery-bag-toting Yoga nut!” All good stuff, to be sure…but not who these people really are at their core.

[singlepic=1659,275,,,left]Travel removes us from our habits and routines and lets us rediscover ourselves anew. It expands our horizons, gives us fresh and new perspectives, strengthens our sense of adventure, pushes us to challenge ourselves and feeds an appreciation of our own courage and abilities. By the time those same clients came home, they were able to say “I am someone who survived and thrived during 15 months of solo travel…who watched the sun rise over Machu Picchu and set over the steppes of Mongolia, who learned new languages and opened up to new cultures…who made life-long friendships out of chance acquaintances, etc.” Those are gifts that come home with you and last a lifetime.

In terms of what activities are best for a sabbatical, that is a very personal decision and depends on the individual client – each person has different needs and wishes for their time off and we do a lot of coaching around what exactly that might look like. Some people need adventure and adrenaline; white water rafting, sky diving and bungee jumping. Other clients want to completely disconnect and relax during their time off; get rid of their Blackberry, sit in a hammock and just read for weeks on end. Some need to reconnect with their passion or their work; to that effect, some of my clients have chosen to volunteer their professional skills during a sabbatical (i.e. teaching English or participating in a medical or dental mission trip.) As a Sabbatical Coach, I feel that determining what you want and need from your trip before looking at where you might travel is the first essential step in making any sabbatical a great success.

[singlepic=1658,150,,,right]”Tara, I just wanted to let you know how impressed I am with your coaching. I can barely believe that I am currently taking a 12 month career break and have just returned from a trip through Cambodia which was the most amazing experience. Before we started coaching together, I had been working flat out for 25 years and figured that I deserved a break – it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I went to Cambodia with the following in mind, ‘Can I learn to judge the quality of my day by how much I have noticed, rather than by how much I have accomplished?’ The work we did around shifting perspectives and setting those types of intentions made a huge difference.” – John K.

What are the benefits of using a career coach when planning/returning from a travel sabbatical?
One of the other great benefits of long-term travel sabbaticals is having time and space to examine who we are and what we truly want out of life. It sounds like a simple concept but in reality, it can be completely revolutionary. My clients begin that process of deep self-reflection and discovery before they even leave for their trip. I can’t tell you how many clients have come to me saying “I’ve never even taken the time to look at what I want or how I feel”. Coaching gives them that time and space as well as a powerful advocate and partner in that process.

Three Month Visa

When clients work with me, they get:

  • Clarity about what they really want and need to get out of their trip
  • Concrete goals – a “game plan” of how to go about making that trip of a lifetime into reality
  • A passionate advocate who is in their corner at all times, helping them stay accountable to their dream and move forward step by step with planning
  • Someone who has “been there, done that” and understands what it takes to realize this type of undertaking (and also the rich rewards of seeing it through!)

When returning from a sabbatical, working with a coach can be a huge advantage, easing what can often be a jarring transition period during repatriation. People are often shocked to find that the most challenging leg of their journey can actually be coming home. Repatriation can be exhilarating and overwhelming at times; disappointing and even depressing at others. People returning from a long stint traveling or living abroad sometimes feel that nobody can relate to what they have been through. Re-entry Coaching helps my clients get the same clarity, concrete goals and advocacy that pre-travel coaching gives them but in the case of repatriation, we are working towards helping them settle back into their life at home.

“With 2 top business degrees and a successful 7 year career in Brand Management, I took a year off to live in Spain. Everyone thought I was crazy to leave a great career (even for just a year), but I knew it was right. Coaching with you helped me put aside other people’s opinions in order to do what was right for me and kept me on track during the long, often overwhelming preparation process leading up to my sabbatical.

Over the course of my year off I learned Spanish, traveled around Spain, Europe and Morocco and met my husband. We moved back to the states together and I came back energized, in love, bilingual, and with many more career options (more because I had shifted my perspective, not for any particular skills that I acquired). I’ve transitioned to flexible freelance work, I’m working on getting certified as a Coach, and I’ve also gotten certified as an ESL teacher. This past summer, my husband and I took time off, which included teaching ESL in Poland. Another amazing experience! I couldn’t have done it without you.” – Kelly A.

Have you ever used a career coach or thought about using one? Tell us your thoughts!

Career Break Guide Table of Contents

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