Nature can’t grow all year long. There are periods of growth followed by a pause and finally renewal, when the process of growth starts over again. It should be the same with us, but we are constantly trying to deny our natural tendencies for rest and renewal. Sabbaticals, can be that important pause that kicks off a new period of growth and change.
But what happens if this just isn’t feasible right now? When saving is just not possible or taking time off would mean that it would create a huge gap in care for your family, think about ways you could capture the same feeling as being on a sabbatical. The time you devote to it and what you do specifically to rest and renew might look different from your neighbor, but there are some key ways you can experiment.
For me, it’s all about switching things up by season, staying active, and enjoying where I live. In the last few years I’ve been striving to live my life like adult summer camp as a way to get into the spirit of a sabbatical without taking extended leave from my business. I can lean into this even more after a busy period at work. To do this, most weeks I include a component of physical activity, nature, water activity, and arts and crafts in my day-to-day life.
Even if I can’t include all of these in a given week, the energy I get from the activities I can fit in tends to carry me through to the next week. I don’t like things to get too stale, so while some weeks may look very similar, during the course of a month or two, I might change up one or two of the components. Summer is for sailing and being in the ocean, while winter is for tide pooling and hiking.
The curious thing about my adult summer camp experiences—I often come back to work with a new sense of self and I feel less blocked. Sometimes while I’m doing a completely unrelated creative task, my brain solves a work problem in the background. Instead of viewing these adventures as time wasters (or ways to procrastinate on work) I’ve shifted to view them as a necessary part of making me effective at my job. The idea is to life more of my every day life like I’m always on sabbatical.
If the idea of adult summer camp works for you, run wild!
Pottery is My Current Arts and Crafts Go-to
In the last year and a half I’ve gotten into wheel throwing pottery. One of my favorite things to do is make bud vases. I have a fun little collection of them now. It gave me a great idea, “What if I featured a bud vase on each chapter of my new book, The Art of the Sabbatical?”
So I’ve got twelve of my favorite vases, one for each of the twelve chapters tackling the mindset and money behind planning a transformative work break.
And then I thought, “Maybe other people would love these vases as much as I do!”
So, now I’m making them available as part of my presale campaign for the next 30 days.
Rest and Renewal at Work
As you might have guessed, it’s not just about what you add into your free-time, changing your relationship to work is going to be important if you want to start feeling more sabbatical-like. Here are some ideas to try:
- Re-align your time boundaries at work (when you work, days you work, location you work).
- Ask for help with some of your responsibilities
- Ask your boss for extra personal days or partial workday day here and there
- Intentionally reduce some of your responsibilities (home and work) on a temporary basis
- Train a back-up at work; it’s important to develop new talent and create succession plans.
- Take actual vacation days and commit to truly unplugging while not working
A sabbatical is a great proving ground to learn how to be more comfortable with unstructured time, but a sabbatical isn’t the only way to train yourself to love having less on your to-do list.
“Our brains crave unstructured time to wander, ponder deeply, find new sparks or just rest,” Allison Holzer, shared in a blog post. As the author of Dare to Inspire: Sustain the Fire of Inspiration in Work and Life, Allison explored this topic and has learned to value and prioritize unstructured time in her life as a specific strategy that supports her work coaching executives.
- Weekly she blocks out one, two-hour period with no pre-determined structure or activity. She sometimes listens to a podcast or takes a walk. But the one rule is to “stay away from devices that would trigger my need to immediately respond and produce.”
- Monthly she blocks out an entire day for discovery or self care. It could be lunch with a friend, getting a facial, attending a thought-provoking conference or devoting a day to read or learn about a new topic.
- Quarterly she schedules a long-weekend for vacation with family. Some portion of that weekend will include family activities, but she also prioritizes recharge time alone too.
What do you do to add more ease and peace into your daily life?