I’m taking a one-year career sabbath. It has been on my vision board for a few years in various forms, I think ever since I read The Four Hour Work Week where I first came across the idea of a mini-retirement. Other books followed that reinforced the idea of designing the life you want, deciding how work fits into your life rather than the other way around, etc. Then in 2021, I read through the Bible in a year with a group of ladies, and the theme of SABBATH kept jumping out to me.
We planned and saved. We worked with a financial advisor to model different scenarios. We met as a couple with a coach to envision what we wanted out of the time and see exactly what scared us and what steps we needed to take to feel prepared.
I decided how I wanted to show up at work for the remainder of my time in order to finish with integrity, allowing me to focus on the things that were important to me and to the people and the business I had responsibility for stewarding.
I built a “plan on a page” of sorts for my sabbath year. In my time in corporate, I learned the power of having a clear and concise vision or strategy that can serve as an orienting and aligning tool, a filter for when things inevitably get murky. While I resist rigid structure being forced upon me, I thrive when I have “scaffolding” or guiding principles that I can align with to keep me moving forward and not feeling stuck – and I needed this to feel safe stepping out into an unknown season that felt risky to me.
My plan for my sabbath year boiled down to five words: Rest, Reflect, Play, Connect, and Serve. I could envision how these would flow… starting with a heavy emphasis on rest, reflect, and connecting with my family… moving into a time of lots of connecting and playing with various ideas… and intentionally seeking out opportunities to serve in ways that use my strengths and experience.
Under each of these “pillars” of Rest, Reflect, Play, Connect, and Serve, I listed a few goals or desires. This gave me a starting point and helped me confirm that they could help me steer this time in a soul-productive way. I hold these goals loosely, with open hands. For example, I could imagine the hours of training I would be doing in order to complete my first full Ironman being productive “reflection” time based on my experience. However, when I broke my collarbone seven weeks out from the race, it became clear that those weeks would be pivoted to heavy “Rest” time, with a very different kind of reflection. It became an opportunity to deepen my meditation practice, finding gratitude through pain and disappointment.
Now that I’m a little over five months into my first sabbath year, I’m starting to do more connecting beyond my closest circle of family and friends, and I’m starting to play with some short-term projects, training, shadowing, etc. in areas of interest that could turn into options for my next career chapter. I’m getting curious about what I’m curious about, and I’m paying attention to what I’m resisting. I’m allowing myself to follow rabbit trails of curiosity, and intentionally probing into areas of resistance to uncover soul-work that may be needed to show up as my best self in my next chapter. And I’m doing a ton of reflecting.
It has been a sweet time, and a hard time. It has been a rich and rewarding time at times, and a “just survive to tomorrow” time at times. My core belief that God’s timing is perfect has been reinforced over and over. I can have a plan, but His plans are best, and His timing is perfect.