What Is A Sabbatical?

I first heard of the word sabbatical in practice when I was at the Hamilton Wood Type Museum in Two Rivers, WI from a guy named Robert Zolna. He stated that his time period was 1 full year. Since he was in the same field of work that I am in, it sparked my interest and as I began to talk to him about his current commitment, I was even more intrigued at the state of peace he was in and how much he was enjoying his decision.

It made me think.

What exactly was he doing on a daily basis?
What was his goal? 
Was he lonely?
What made him take the step to do so?

So I looked it up. Being a book nerd, I naturally went to the dictionary first and this is what I found:


1.  a leave often with pay granted to a college teacher for study or travel, traditionally every seventh year.
2. a period of time during which someone does not work at his or her regular job and is able to rest, travel, do research, etc.
3. a break or change from a normal routine (as of employment)

1. of or relating to a sabbatical.
2. (archaic) of or appropriate to the sabbath.


Three things I gathered from this definition were: 

1) Every seven years of work
Reflecting back on my work life, I began to count and the years and it amounted to 7. Check. 

2) A break/change that can involve rest, travel, research, etc.
Good place to start thinking of structure and goals. I know I need to rest, I love to travel, and I'm always researching no matter what I'm doing. Perhaps more definitive structure will benefit non-structured time schedules. Ok, got it.

3) Related to the word 'sabbath'
I grew up in a very Jewish town and knowledge of religious meanings were prevalent. I know what keeping the sabbath is from a biblical perspective: A day of rest. A period of time to absorb solely for yourself to reflect on your surroundings. The folks in my town would lay back, attend a synagogue when the sun went down, and really take in the purpose of the day. So I concluded that what I needed to do was do nothing but rest and reflect with purpose. Check.

So then the question became, how long? To take a break for a year was probably not the best for me in my particular situation so I decided that 2-3 months would be a good time period and that I could gage from there whether or not I needed more time.  

But what goals would I be pursuing? 

I know that I love my industry and the mediums I have chosen for my art work so I decided that my goals would be the following:
1) What subject matter in UX/Service Design would I want to tackle next?
2) What project would inspire me to push my letterpress art further?

Through the next few months, I hope that I will be able to find the answers to these questions.