My first and only formal academic sabbatical was in 1993 when, as a full-time academic at the S.U.N.Y. College of Optometry, I was given a choice of a six month full-time leave or a twelve month part-time leave, to work on a proposed vision therapy textbook. I decided to take the six month full-time leave to immerse myself in the project. Being engaged in private practice as well, I had been working long days, six days per week for sixteen years, and the prospect of working “only” 30 hour weeks instead of 70 hour weeks was nirvana.
The idea of sabbaticals is ingrained in our work schedules. We all take at least one day off each week resulting in weekly sabbatical cycles. Nearly twenty years ago I decided to seriously consider reproducing that pattern on a broader scale. The mini-sabbaticals began with a couple of days, which grew into a couple of weeks, and ultimately into a month. I do not believe that you can be successful in optometric practice, and particularly in optometric vision therapy, without being immersed in it. The intensity of the commitment also means that after success has been attained and sustained for a number of years, mini-sabbaticals become more pertinent in enabling one to maintain peak performance.
Miriam and I had begun to build spring renewal into a month-long stay on Clearwater Beach, and we gradually expanded to a fall sabbatical in Arizona. Books are never far from the agenda, and the Desert Ridge location of Barnes and Noble, from which I’m blogging now, is always conducive to creativity as well as relaxation.
The original impetus for both locations was built around baseball as a Field of Dreams, and we still find these real life stories to be inspirational. They speak to resilience, perseverance, and courage.
In the throes of building a practice, an incredible amount of dedication is required. The elements of what are defined today as work/life balance will often be tested to the limits.
While we were building and actively managing our practice, even during our mini-sabbaticals, we spent part of every day working on the practice. Gotomypc.com was our constant companion, and we have always ascribed to the maxim that working on your practice was as essential as working in your practice.
This Fall our transition finds us, for the first time, in a different phase of practice. Miriam is no longer involved in day-to-day operations, though we still participate in the VisionHelp initiative that serves in part as the blogging platform you’re reading. (In fact our mini-sabbatical this year was tacked on to the back end our our annual VisionHelp meeting.) I remain actively engaged in patient care and consulting with the new owners of our practice and in guiding our Residency program.
Each sunrise on mini-sabbatical exposes the brilliance of opportunities that arise on the other side of mountains climbed.