After 29 years of running a successful restaurant in New York City, David Bouley is taking a little "me" time.
The successful restaurateur recently announced plans to shutter his namesake eatery, Bouley, which he first opened in lower Manhattan in 1987. But instead of simply closing down the Michelin-rated restaurant and retiring, like many would after a storied career like his, the 68-year-old entrepreneur--and his business--are going on "sabbatical."
Starting in November, the octogenarian entrepreneur tells The New York Times, he'll spend 18 months taking nutrition classes at New York University. He'll visit France, Japan, Peru, Cuba and Switzerland, where he'll consult with health experts. He'll also work on getting an executive MBA from Harvard Business School. Eventually, he plans to reopen Bouley in a new, smaller location.
While it's true that businesses close and reopen all the time for one reason or another, the idea of taking a break to replenish yourself or retool the company (beyond, say, updating the interior design) is worth considering. Naturally, you'd need to be able to to afford putting the business on hiatus, but the benefits of a little time away can be plentiful.
Besides the whole concept of distance giving you perspective, mounting research shows that time off from work--even if you're still technically doing mentally taxing things--can help reduce stress and promote cardiovascular wellness. In her seminal research on the subject from 2012, Sabine Sonnentag of the University of Mannheim in Germany suggests that it's a process of recovery. In other words, recuperating from work can help employees stay engaged and healthy when they're back on the job.
I recently took a couple months off of my duties at Inc. to have my first child. And while I wouldn't call this "me" time by any stretch, I would say I found the experience oddly therapeutic. Of course, taking care of a newborn requires an insane amount of effort, nearly around the clock. And I'm not one of those people who can still function on little sleep. But back in the office now, I find that I'm (perhaps oddly) feeling replenished.
While still sleep deprived, I am engaged with my job and eager to tackle new challenges, whereas before I might not have been so keen. It's as though that time away helped me identify what is and isn't important. Sure, I didn't finish that book proposal I ambitiously thought I would, but I did get pretty good at typing with one hand. Also, I was able to spend time, LOTS of time, with my daughter. This treasured experience will surely only continue to enrich every other thing I do.
I can understand why some are calling for "meternity" leave--that is, time off that includes all of the benefits of maternity leave without actually having any children. Coincidentally, the internet first began buzzing over the concept while I was on maternity leave.
I'm not going to suggest that employers suddenly give "meternity" time to employees. But in cases where it makes sense, some kind of time off (beyond simply taking a vacation) for either you or your employees may be advisable; it may help your business grow.
For Bouley, it will give him a chance to bone up on holistic nutrition and become better acquainted with fermented foods and the benefits of gut bacteria. He is writing a book called Living Pantry. It's about these ideas and healthful eating in general, according to the Times. He wants to create websites and build apps around the topic, too.
"Gastronomy and science, meeting together," Bouley tells the Times. "I want to learn how to do that better."