An Interview With Sabbatical Coach Clive Prout

April 17, 2009

sabbatical-coachIf there’s one thing that we know for sure about sabbaticals, it’s that the number of people who want to take them is far greater than the number who actually do.

That in itself is no great surprise. Sabbaticals represent a significant lifestyle change. What is surprising (and too bad) is that there aren’t more people like Clive Prout around to help us make the change. Clive is The Sabbatical Coach – and has the credentials and experience to prove it. I asked Clive to answer a few questions for us about his role in helping people take and make the most of sabbaticals.

Q. What is a sabbatical coach?
I help people use a sabbatical to make significant lasting changes in life. Many people think about a sabbatical as simply a break from work. When the sabbatical is over they return to the same job and continue with life as before. I work with people who see their sabbatical as a chance to create a lasting shift in their work lives. Usually this change involves reinventing their work so that it is more focused on making a positive difference for others. It often involves getting clearer about their unique interests and talents and being more entrepreneurial about creating work that fits them. The overall shift is one towards greater meaning in work.

I am a professional coach who specializes in major career transition and using sabbaticals to facilitate that transition.

Q. Tell us about some typical clients
A good example would be Andy*. He was a director at Microsoft, and had been there for a long time. He knew that the work environment there was dragging him down. He felt underused and underappreciated. This had taken a toll on his self-confidence. He was trapped – he had wanted to leave Microsoft for over 5 years, but been unable to do anything about it. He hired me to help him get out, imagining that a sabbatical would be a way to make the break. We worked on a vision for his life, imagining how he wanted to be working, with whom and where he and his wife wanted to live. Inside three months he had was hired into a newly created position with a leading consulting firm. He has since built a specialized practice that he is leading. He is on track to be a partner in the next couple of years and loves his work again.

Another would be VJ who worked in the investment banking industry in London. He hired me just as he left his job for a 3 month sabbatical with some travel plans. He knew some of the things that he wanted to do during his time off. He was really hoping not to have to go back to his old job, but wanted the safety net in place in case he could not find something that suited him better.

You can read more in depth case studies of some of my clients on my website:

Q. Why do people need a sabbatical coach?
My clients hire me because they know that the magnitude of change they want will be harder and take longer if they try to do it alone. In fact many have been “trying” for years and not broken free yet. I provide a support structure that generates greater clarity about what they want and a faster route to the destination.

Q. What are the biggest factors stopping people taking sabbaticals?
Inertia and fear.

Inertia is the habit of doing the same thing day after day, week after week, year after year. We are creatures of habit and breaking any habit (even painful ones like going to a boring job every day) requires effort.

The fear that holds people back is fear of making a “mistake” or “failing”. Many people are afraid that their time and money will be wasted and that they will end up “worse off” than they are right now – perhaps with a worse job, or with the same job and less savings. Or like a guy I talked to today, the fear is of giving up on the financial opportunities that their current job offers.

In my view, inertia stops more people and fear is a bigger obstacle for those standing on the brink of a sabbatical.

Q. What lasting impact have your own sabbaticals had on your life?
I have taken two major sabbaticals.

The first was a six month diving and surfing adventure in Australia during my twenties. I had a great time, and when I got back to England, I ended up going back into the same sort of work that I had left. I learned that I what really wanted was a change in the way I made a living, not just an extended vacation.

My second sabbatical was a spiritual quest. I realized that I had totally neglected my spiritual development and that it was important enough to demand a total focus. This quest led me to live in a spiritual community and ultimately to my new career as a coach. On this sabbatical I passed the “point of no return”. After that, I knew that there was no “going back” to my previous job or career. There was only one way on – forward. That was when life became a real adventure again.

Q. What do your clients get, how does it work, and how much does it cost?
My clients get an experienced guide for their journey. I increase the chance that they will arrive where they want to go. With my help their journey (whether it is a physical, spiritual or psychological journey) becomes more intentional, held in the context of their life as a hero’s journey.

I charge $400-$600 per month – depending upon the structure we design together. My clients typically work with me for between six months and a year. Several have hired me again later in their journey.

Q. What actions can our readers take which would move them closer to their sabbatical dream?
I’ll offer two actions.
1. Imagine you have already taken your dream sabbatical. It has unfolded in the best way you can envision, and it is coming to an end. How do you want your work and life to look after your sabbatical? Write about that.
2. Talk to me. I offer complimentary consultations with anyone who deeply wants change in their work. Often one conversation is all it takes to get started. Email me at clive AT to set up a time to talk.

If you’re struggling getting your sabbatical off the ground, or want to make sure you make the most of the one you have planned, get in touch with Clive. He’s the real deal! – Dan

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