Lessons from a Sabbatical – Part 1

Lessons from a Sabbatical – Part 1

Even though we are advocates for taking a sabbatical or even just pausing, it can still be ridiculously hard to take our own advice. This summer, I navigated a “slow-down-ish-ness” season as I faced a crossroads in my life.  Despite knowing that it was important to pause so I could hear the wisdom within and around me, I resisted it. In fact, because of my resistance, it took me over a month to prioritize rest for my body and spirit.

But once I rested, got my own sabbatical guide, and started listening to myself again, things started to shift for me.

Over the next couple of blog posts, I am going to share 12 lessons I have gathered from my sabbatical summer. This week, I am wrapping up my sabbatical season and taking steps towards what is next for me. My hope is that these reflections encourage you to find the time to slow down…even if it is a “slow-down-ish-ness” like my summer.


Let’s dive in!


1) People will not understand why you want to pause:

Their fears and narratives about rest (including words like idle, lazy, and unproductive) will be placed on you. It is not about their approval. This pause must be centered on what you need. And, it is none of their business so you do not even have to explain your reasons to them.

2) The fear is real

Fear is very present, especially for the longer sabbaticals. There are fears about identity, purpose, and relevance when you re-enter post-sabbatical. I had fears about never figuring out what is next for me. But just know that fear should not be the driver of your sabbatical experience even it is present.

3) Be kind to me

Speak to yourself in kind words that you would say to your best friend. There is no perfect or right way to take a sabbatical. This summer’s sabbatical was very different than the one took five years ago.

4) Prioritize rest

This should be the first lesson. You cannot imagine possibilities when your entire being (body, mind, and spirit) are exhausted. Resting will take longer than you expect because you don’t realize how weary you are. Rest is hard because we have been programmed to be productive and anything less is frowned up in our society.

5) Write it down.

Get out of your head! Whether in a handwritten journal, on post-it notes, through art, or recording daily videos, make your reflections tangible. Once your ideas are more visible, it becomes possible to see patterns, questions, and opportunities.

6) Nature is a powerful teacher

The rhythms of nature and seasons teach me to slow down. The trees take their time to turn green and it is beautiful. I often start and end my sabbatical with time in nature. In fact, today as I wandered in the grasslands, a grasshopper came along and taught me that it is okay to take the big leaps.

I will be back in a couple of weeks for my final six lessons from this summer. Be sure to sign up for our newsletter [link] to stay updated on new blog postings and other related content that is for subscribers only.


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