[the latest dispatch from my newsletter]
You know that feeling when you haven’t done something you’re supposed to do for so long that it becomes impossible to do?
I know it’s been a while—sorry! BUT.
I have a lot of good news to share: a new website, a bunch of press coverage, a new academic manuscript and an emerging—but still low probability—shot at a Sabbatical TV pilot. (Picture a home makeover show, but the remodeling is on peoples’ lives, via a sabbatical. I’ll need your help nominating folks to follow on their time off.)
If I’m being honest, around this time last year, I was pretty close to hanging up my cleats on this thing.
Not that the idea of sabbaticals would die, but I was getting tired of shouting into the wind for so long. Maybe if I left it on the back burner for five years, my platform would double in size and the mean ol’ editors in NYC would give me a book deal…
Instead, you know what happened: workers emerged from the pandemic with more power than they’ve had in a century. Anthony Klotz termed it the Great Resignation. Whatever you call it, most folks re-emerged with a greater perspective on what was important and possible.*
Fast forward 9 months, and sabbaticals have begun to get their time in the sun. LinkedIn even launched a feature to highlight—and normalize—career breaks.
It’s been a pretty incredible ride for the Sabbatical Project as well. To start, more than half of you on this newsletter are new since last year. Welcome! Check out the two-question survey below, so I can figure out how to help you on your journey.
For those who have been following along since the beginning, thank you! It truly means the world to me. Take a second to fill out the two-question survey, so I can see if there’s anything I can do to help.
Want to hear from me more often?
- I’m publishing a bi-weekly newsletter on LinkedIn, which is where I’m doing most of my advocacy on sabbaticals. I’m pasting an excerpt below, so you can see what I’m doing down in Baja Sur Mexico for the next two months, on retreat.
- I talk with sabbatical alums, experts, and coaches live on LinkedIn, and then put the recordings up on YouTube. Sabbatical stories then get condensed, gussied up, and posted on our website here. If you have a story to tell – tell us here.
- Keep an eye out on my LinkedIn for an interview I’m very excited about – with Jonathan Fields of Good Life Project, in a few weeks. I’ll send something out—he’s someone I’ve looked up to since the beginning of the Sabbatical Project.
- Join our Facebook group for real-time Q&A, help, and community.
OK – quick, the two question survey:
Be in touch if I can help!
Off you go now,
Want to know what I’m doing down in Mexico? I wrote about it in my LinkedIn newsletter HERE.
Additionally, here’s an excerpt from my guest in Chip Conley’s blog, WisdomWell:
Confessions of a SabSesh Convert (Part 2).
What makes the Sabbatical Sessions so supportive for sabbatical-takers?
As I wrote in my recent previous post, it comes down to four ingredients—structure, space, community, and distance.
Before I get to SabSesh’s secret sauce, let me take a step back and tell you how I got here to Baja:
After an eight-year entrepreneurial journey, during which I lived in and traveled to dozens of countries creating the FICO score for emerging markets, I burned out. It was my dream job…until it wasn’t anymore.
As it does for most, burning out caught me by surprise. Wasn’t this something that only happens to people who hate their job? Unsure of what to do next, I set off in a completely different direction for four months—on a journey to dedicate some time towards what was important, not just urgent.
Those four months led me to quit the company I co-founded and set out to answer the question that had been bouncing around my head since I returned: “am I crazy, or is a sabbatical the best way to learn about yourself, heal, check items off your bucket list, and reimagine your future?”
Having worked alongside economists my entire career, I felt obliged to find some evidence to support (or disprove) my hypothesis. So I partnered up with academics from the Universities of Notre Dame and Washington to do just that. You can find some of the results of our research on our website: www.theSabbaticalProject.org. I came to SabSesh to transform this research—and the hundreds of stories from sabbatical takers—into a book.
And here’s what I think creates the magic of SabSesh:
For most, going on sabbatical means going from 100 mph to 0. We’re used to being busy with urgent matters to attend to and folks that depend on us. It catches people by surprise how disorienting it is to all of the sudden have a vacuum of responsibilities and an empty calendar. SabSesh provides a diverse, engaging and completely voluntary set of daily activities, ranging from guided discussions to art classes to yoga and meditation. It’s an easy and healthy (read: not binging Netflix) way to spend your days, weeks, and months.
Paradoxically, despite several scheduled activities each day, there’s also hours of unstructured free time to get lost in your thoughts, or pick up an old hobby. There’s also ample physical space to feel like you have the place to yourself. The growing campus spills over into so many lovely buildings, each with various indoor and outdoor seating areas, pools, a library and kitchens erupting with free snacks and drinks. It’s a joy just discovering the nooks and crannies of the campus.
Community was the one thing I didn’t have during the first stretch of my sabbatical. Doing something as countercultural and seemingly risky as giving it all up for a while is terrifying; having folks around you who are also on their journey helps embolden you. What’s unique about the community during SabSesh is that it’s multigenerational: in the ten days I’ve already been here, we’ve had people from each decade from the 30s to 70s, not to mention from all over the US and the world. It’s not every day you get to beat an Iranian in backgammon who’s been playing since you were in diapers! (Sorry Yasmin ;/ ) Joking aside, being able to tap into the experiences of folks at all stages of their life journey has been clarifying, and not unidirectionally—everyone seems to be learning something new.
The one thing that the hot, dusty highway from the airport to MEA is good for is putting extra geographic distance between you and your routines, identities, and trappings. Separation from your normal life—if only for a week or two—is crucial to dropping into a new state of being. Not only do different parts of your brain light up when traveling internationally, new surroundings can help you disconnect more quickly and fully from your former life, enabling you to make the most out of fewer days off.
*(Kinda sounds like what happens after a sabbatical. Not that I predicted that in April 2020 or anything.)