I’m back!  Did you miss me?

Confused?  I bet you didn’t realize I was even gone.  

And why would you?  I scheduled out blog posts to be published on a weekly cadence during my absence precisely so you wouldn’t miss me.

BUT, I’ve been on a sabbatical. 

In fact, I took 6 whole weeks off this summer.  And it was blissful.

I’ve been in the workforce for 20+ years and I’ve never before taken more than a couple weeks off at a time.

Have you?

(And lest you say “but I’ve heard you talk about having 2 kids, so you must’ve taken 2 maternity leaves”, let me remind you that parental leave is decidedly not “break” in any way, shape or form!)

But I started this business almost 6 years ago and one of my goals was more freedom and more autonomy.

And to a very large extent, I’ve achieved that.

But it wasn’t until I noticed that a couple of my friends and colleagues were taking sabbaticals that pondered doing this for myself.

And once I had this thought in my mind, I couldn’t let it go.

Every December, I typically spend some time mapping out a rough outline of my calendar for the next year.  I block off weeks that I’d like to take off.  I block off my birthday (because I always take that day off).  I make sure holidays are blocked off.  I make sure that events for my kids’ schools are blocked off.

And last December, I did something that made me feel equal parts uneasy and excited: I blocked off 6 whole weeks in the summer and I committed to taking a sabbatical.

And then in February, I read this article from the Harvard Business Review all about sabbaticals and it served to bolster my confidence that this was the right move.

And I’m proud to report, I made it happen!

And you know what else?  I was back at inbox 0ish on my very first workday back!

Does it sound impossible?  I promise you, it’s not.

Here’s exactly what I did to make it happen.

You may have heard me refer in the past to long term pain vs. short term pain?  Well, I chose short term pain.

How long did it take me to get through those emails?  About 9 hours.

But those are 9 hours that I planned for in advance. So it wasn’t overwhelming.

I knew getting back to inbox 0 and planning out my week for my return would be top priority.  So I blocked off that time in advance, so I wouldn’t feel the pressure.

What else did I do?  Well, I got some great advice from the women who inspired me to do this in the first place.  And I followed it.

Now, you might be thinking, well, that’s great for you, because you work for yourself.  But what about me?  I work for a company; I can’t take 6 weeks off!

Well, you might be surprised to learn that there are actually lots of companies that offer period sabbaticals as a benefit!

In fact, here’s a list of 75 companies that, as of June 2023, are offering paid sabbaticals.

Now, was my sabbatical all roses? 

Did it all go 100% according to plan?

Of course not!

Here are a few things that definitely didn’t go as planned:

  • Waking up naturally (no alarm)
    • I’m a night person, through and though.  And one thing that I’d been blissfully looking forward to was getting to wake up naturally, without an alarm, for 6 whole weeks. 
    • Waking up has been the hardest part of my day.  Seriously, since day one of kindergarten.  And I was so excited to start the day differently. 
    • But you know what?  It didn’t happen.  And the reason it didn’t happen?  It just didn’t work for our family’s schedule.  Left to my own devices, my natural wake up time is sometime between 10am and 11am.  And my husband was working from 3pm to midnight (we were in a different timezone), so if we wanted to do fun stuff as a family during the day, then I couldn’t sleep in until 11 every day. 
    • The compromise?  I set my alarm for 9:30 most days.  And it was better than waking up at 7am.  BUT, it wasn’t what I planned.  Maybe I’ll get to live my dream schedule when I retire!  Or when my kids go to college.
  • Leisurely, blissfully cooking meals
    • This was a weird one!  So, one thing to know about me is that I love cooking.  It’s one of my favorite pasttimes.  It’s the time, every day, when I get to be creative and I’m totally in the flow.  It’s something I look forward to after a workday. 
    • And I had visions of visiting the market every day and selecting what I wanted to cook that night, and doing it all in a leisurely fashion. 
    • Turns out, I didn’t want that.  Turns out, I like planning a bit in advance, and that I need some constraints to be creative.  And for some reason, when I had all the time in the world, cooking felt more like a chore vs. something to look forward to.  Maybe because there were so many other things that I was doing that were creative, cooking felt like less of an outlet?

But here’s one thing I know.  Just because something doesn’t go as planned, that doesn’t mean it’s a failure. 

It means I’ve learned something valuable about myself, and I can retool to come up with a different iteration for my plans next time.

And one more thing before I go.  I had a bit of a happy surprise as well!

I have to admit that I was just a little bit afraid that if I stepped away from work I’d never want to come back, and that I’d have some sort of crisis of conscience or something. 

Usually, when a vacation is over, I still want more. 

But I was so pleased when around week 5, I started to feel a hankering to do some work.  I started having ideas of new courses I want to create, how to improve my current programs, new things I want to write. 

I started to feel excited about coming back.

As it turns out, I like structure, I like goals, I like having something long term to work towards, and I really like helping people use their time in a way that feels good. I’d missed that!

So, where does that leave us. 

Where does that leave YOU?

Even if it doesn’t make sense for you to take a sabbatical, the next time you take a vacation, what if you committed to making it 100% disconnected from your job?  Even if it’s just a week!

Can you do it? 

Have you done it? 

Tell me in the comments!