In the end, you are not a renewable resource. You can burn yourself so far down, you have nothing left to burn.
Do things that will renew you. Take a day. Take a week. But take a sabbatical. Everyone you know will thank you.
Sabbatical comes from the term “sabbath.” The Israelites were told in the fourth commandment:
“Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy.”
On the seventh day of the week, they were to restrain from work of any kind. They were to stop their labor. Be still. Worship. Reflect.
The Sabbath is becoming popular again. Many productive people in Silicon Valley are adopting the Internet Sabbath. (Some call it a digital sabbath.) “Black hole” resorts are becoming a fad. When you check into the hotel, you check your smartphone at the desk. (Some even block all Internet signals)
The dictionary defines sabbatical as:
”A period of paid leave granted to a college teacher for study or travel, traditionally every seventh year.”
A Heart Cry for Stillness
Last summer was too busy. At the end of last summer, I looked at my son and realized that he had grown, and I hadn’t been there to see it. This summer, I'm taking a different approach. (See 8 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Plan Your Summer Calendar to see if you need a sabbatical too.)
No matter your career, there are times you need to prepare yourself as a person. What if we have our mind, body, soul all healthy and ready to achieve?
How Plan for a Sabbatical
Sabbaticals don't have to be a long period, but they can be. Here's how I've approached mine.
STEP 1: Plan Your Calendar in Pencil
As you plan your summer, put everything on your calendar in pencil.
Look at your plans. Notice your physical reaction to your schedule. When I'm upset, I feel it. Dread feels like little bumblebees flying just at the top of my stomach. I can handle the stress. But if I feel those “bumblebees” about mundane things, I scale back. What is your physical reaction to what you've planned?
What is your physical response to what you've planned?
STEP 2: Reevaluate, Reschedule, and Remove
If you have realized you need sabbatical time, reevaluate everything.
- What can you reschedule?
- What can you remove?
- Can you back away from anything to give yourself some time?
Erase and move things around. It is OK. What is not OK is canceling a commitment at the last minute.
STEP 3: Plan “SD” Days
I put the initials “SD” on my calendar on my “sabbatical days”. These are days with no appointments. Nothing to do. These aren’t days that I just sit and watch past episodes of Blue Bloods. On SD's, I:
- Read what I want.
- Write whatever I want.
- Spend time with family.
- Spend time thinking with pen in hand.
- Don’t check email.
- Get off social media.
- Put the phone in airplane mode.
For me, SD days are not Netflix marathons. I do watch videos sometimes. This summer, I am re-watching a fantastic leadership series by my pastor, Michael Catt. But even just buying a new pen and a blank piece of paper can be restorative to me. I’ll doodle, sketch note, and ponder things. I’ll write about things shooting between my neurons. I’ll sit down at the piano and play music and sing. I might pull out Les Miserables and sing along as I wash dishes. Sabbatical days can look like anything, but they should be restorative.
Use SD's to restore. What things revive you? Reading, exercise, eating healthy foods, stillness, or thinking? Drinking lots of water? Family time? Singing? Working in the garden? Sewing? What heals your soul and helps your heart beat a little stronger the next day?
STEP 4: Stop Talking About Work
If you go on vacation and take your psycho-baggage with you, you've ruined your relaxation. You can't leave yourself at home, but you can choose to leave behind your negative thoughts. If you go on a guilt trip, you have to pack your own bags. The same is true for ego-trips and stress-trips.
Last week after I got out of school, I told my husband,
“I just don’t know how I’m going to go back to school in the Fall.”
And Kip says to me,
“Why don’t you wait and see, this is only your third day out! It would help if you would take a break from school in your mind – it is all you talk about.”
I have periods of time when I ask my family to help me stop talking about school. Now is the time. I do have a budget due next week, but I can handle that Monday. Meanwhile, I’m on a word budget about school. Kip and I agree how much I can bring it up — sometimes not at all.
STEP 5: Be
There are times to be and not do. Say:
“OK, me, no pressure – you are off work today. Just be.”
Take Time to Be Kind…to Yourself
Happy Summer Sabbatical, friends. I will miss you at ISTE and all the events this year, but while I miss you, I won’t miss me. And that, dear friends, is a person none of us can afford to lose. For as it says in the Bible,
“What gaineth a man if he gaineth the world and loses his own soul.”
Question: Have you ever taken a sabbatical? What works for you? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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