Battling burnout, Adrianne creates a plan to take an 8-week sabbatical that would mark her transition into the second phase of her career. Her career halftime creates an opportunity for rest and recovery while giving her the fuel to keep going.
Just like in a big game, halftime is for rest, strategy, and refueling so that you can go into the second half reenergized and ready to win—taking a “career halftime” was exactly that for me.
Describe any changes you made in your life post-sabbatical:
Prioritizing my health, family, and sense of self through routine exercise, better diet, and more quality time with my kids. I’ve also made investments in myself by becoming a certified professional coach. Finally, I’ve started my own consulting practice so that I can continue to work with flexibility on projects that align with my experience and passions.
What catalyzed your sabbatical?:
Negative event – death of a loved one, health/burnout, job loss, etc.
How did your sabbatical experience change the way you thought about your employer:
I’m going to go back and consult with them on some of the things that caused me to burn out, but ultimately ended up leaving them as an employee.
List some activities you engaged in during your sabbatical:
Yoga on the beach twice a week; 2-3 water aerobics classes/week; Cooking and meal prep of healthy foods — a new beautiful salad for lunch instead of skipping or grabbing convenience foods; tending to my neglected vegetable/fruit/flower gardens; making jam and preserves from things that were grown by me or local farmers; regular walks with friends and neighbors; a week long family vacation with my kids and husband to the coast; reconnecting with old friends; engaging with my financial planner; getting my senior in high school ready for the year (senior pictures, college planning, etc.); trips to the zoo; visiting a friend’s farm where she dressed one of her horses up as a unicorn and made my three year old’s dreams come true!; rest; built a fire-pit in our back yard for entertaining; took the dog for a walk daily
Tell us about your sabbatical:
I asked my husband in the spring if he would support me if I quit my job with no plan. His answer was a very quick “No” because he couldn’t financially support me and our family of 5 on his own. So I knew I needed to have a plan. I didn’t want to do a job search because getting into a new employment situation would have led me right back to the same place of burnout– I knew this after three interviews at an outside company.
Eventually, I spoke with a company who didn’t have a job for me but asked if I’d consider consulting on a 1099 contract for some projects. This and other conversations I had with people in my network made me realize that there was a market for the type of experience (16 years) that I had acquired in a very specific area. I decided to leave my job with 6 weeks’ notice, took some PTO for a couple of weeks after that and then spent time resting, recovering, and strategizing for what was next.
I researched how to get my own business set up so I could consult (and pay taxes), did some networking to get some first contracts lined up, with intention around working fewer, more flexible hours, and also researched some programs to pursue personal development.
I knew I wasn’t done working but wanted to go into the second half of my career with intention, purpose, and renewed energy.
Describe the impact of your sabbatical in one sentence:
I’m pretty sure my career halftime saved me from completely burning out and becoming detached both personally and professionally.
How long was your sabbatical (in weeks)?
Why do you think others should (or shouldn’t) take sabbaticals? Are there occasions in life where it’s particularly helpful?
It is nearly impossible to tell you’re burning out when you are burning out. No amount of self-care can fix the burnout train while it is moving at full speed.
Taking a sabbatical or leave and allowing for intentional rest, recovery, and reflection can offer the fuel you need to keep going. Remembering all of the perspective that is gained during that time and finding ways to not jump back onto the speeding train all at once is a way to have it propel you forward– otherwise, you’d be back to burnout and detachment almost immediately.
Want to read more sabbatical stories of people recovering from burnout? You might enjoy Shea’s story.
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