I Took a 6 Month Sabbatical. Here’s What I Learned.

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By Eimear Clancy, Senior Consultant at Vox Financial Partners

After a few busy years living in New York City, I was ready for a change of scenery and eager to see more of the world. I broached the idea of a sabbatical with Vox and, thankfully, they agreed.

Over six months, I traveled to Costa Rica, Panama, Columbia, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, and Vietnam. The experience included many personal reflections and learnings—and also several professional ones. Here are just a few things I’ve noticed upon my return.

I’m a better communicator
Week after week, I was interacting with people from around the world. Engaging with people who were different ages and came from different countries, cultures, and political backgrounds helped me hone my communication skills tremendously. In countries where I didn’t know the language, I found myself relying on non-verbal communication skills. Intrigued by strangers’ stories, I found myself listening more often—and more intently. Without realizing it, I became a much more articulate, confident communicator because of these experiences.

I more comfortably navigate chaos
As one might expect on a six-month trip around the world, I had my fair share of canceled buses, missed connections, delayed trains, lost luggage, and more. From national emergencies in Ecuador to social unrest in Bolivia to the spread of COVID-19, I very regularly had to change route and/or plans. In the beginning, I found the experiences jarring—especially in countries where I didn’t know the language or was traveling alone. Over time, I found I was able to adapt to the situations more easily and quickly strategize a Plan B. I’ve found this skill especially useful in my regulatory reform work, where roadblocks and new challenges often arise. Now, I find I can help clients more quickly and efficiently navigate the initial uncertainty these changes often bring and set a new course.

I’m a more invested team player
During my travels, I was lucky enough to go on several extremely challenging hikes. I had always felt adept at teamwork, but nothing prepared me for the experience of hiking Machu Picchu or the W trek in Patagonia with an organized group. Not only did we strategize together, but we supported one another through the difficult terrain, weather, and exhaustion that set in. I came to appreciate the ability of a team to not only meet a shared goal but to make one another better for the experience of working together.

I have a better work/life balance
According to a recent Deloitte study, 77% of respondents said they feel burned out by their current jobs. Vox has always supported a healthy work/life balance, but I often struggled to build the time in to recharge and shut off. Taking sabbatical helped me reconnect to my hobbies and interests and remind me of the importance of investing my time in activities outside of work. Now I plan regular time to clear my head—it’s made an enormous difference in my mindset and attitude.

When COVID-19 cut my (originally 12 months) sabbatical short, Vox was very helpful in getting me back to work earlier than planned. And while I appreciated my time away, I very much looked forward to returning. Now that I’m back at work, I can see how the sabbatical helped hone important skills and connect me back to myself. I’m a better person, and employee, for the experience.

Vox Financial Partners provides regulatory change management consulting services and software products to the top-tier bank and broker-dealer clients in the US and Europe. Our Service Delivery Centre, based in Belfast, takes advantage of the abundance of high-quality people there to manage critical business processes offsite for financial institutions while maintaining a first-class experience for their clients.

Interested in the creative thinking and solid execution from the Vox FP team? Visit our website – www.voxfp.com.

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