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Months or minutes – how much time do you really need to recharge?

Updated: Nov 20, 2019

From sabbaticals to mindful minutes, there’s a smorgasbord of choices when you’re thinking about how to recharge. But how much time is enough? The answer, as it turns out, is in the old story of the Professor and the glass jar…

I talk a lot about taking the big breaks in life. The ones that recharge your soul and inspire you to change. Sabbaticals that supercharge your trajectory to the best version of yourself.

What I never say is that a sabbatical is the answer to everything. Rest and recovery are made up of many components and moments. I like to think of it like the story of the Professor and the glass jar – Have you heard this analogy? I love it…

A philosophy professor was giving a lecture to some students. He had a big glass jar in front of him. He started by filling up the glass jar with big stones. Then paused to ask the class “is this jar full?” The students agreed it was full as no more stones could fit in.

The professor then pulled out some small pebbles and started pouring them in. They filled up the spaces around the rocks. He again asked, “is it full now?”. The students agreed it was now full.

He pulled out some sand and poured it in, asking the same question and getting a similar response. Finally, he got some water and filled the jar to the rim. The class agreed it was now indeed full!

My soon-to-be-husband would at this point interject and say that technically, there is still lots of space between the cell walls and the nucleus of each item in the jar…. He’d then probably start talking about time dilation…. Thank you, Joseph.

My point here is that sabbaticals are the big stones – the milestones of rest. You may only have a few in your life but they will be momentous. We can consider regular vacations, a week or two here and there, as the pebbles. They’re really important as the way to recharge between your milestone sabbaticals. Then there is the sand. These are the things you do to fill up your life with restful moments to recharge on a daily basis. Yoga, meditation, massage, treatments and therapies that keep you aligned and at your best.

I recently had the privilege of meeting Dr. Jonas Eyford, from Recharge Wellness at a DistuptHR event where we were both speaking about wellness in the workplace. I loved Jonas’ concept of Recharge Stations at work - spaces for employees to get treatments from teams of therapists that visit the office weekly. Employees help themselves to Recharge Treatments (free thanks to the company health insurance), rejuvenating tired bodies and minds with the help of the specialized chiropractors, massage therapists and physiotherapists. Jonas is making it easier for people to fill their jar with sand at work.

The final part in the professor’s story was water. To me, the water is mindset. Jonas and I both agree it’s the fundamental element that supports all the other rocks, pebbles and sand. Without the mindset around taking care of yourself as a top priority in life, you’ll struggle to keep your jar filled.

So, have a look at your jar today. Do you already have a couple of stones in there – some milestone sabbaticals? Do you have one in planning? Or do you need to plan a vacation? Maybe, it’s that you need to get some more mindful moments into your life. Whatever you need, wherever you are, look after your recharge jar so you can bring the best version of yourself to the world.


Beyond a Break exists to help people navigate their way to a sabbatical and supports organisations create better sabbatical programs to recharge their people. If you need a milestone break, have a look at our services and free resources, or simply get in touch. I’d love to help you find a way to take a break that goes beyond.


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