Sabbatical Stories

Jackson Embraces Discomfort to Find Comfort

2-time Sabbatical-er Living Abroad and Living as a Zen Monk (Pre / Post College) – The more you seek the uncomfortable, the more you become comfortable.

I approached my decisions through the lens of regret minimization: even if things go poorly will I look back and regret taking this time off? Unlikely. If I don’t do it, will I look back on my life and regret having never taken the time to step off the path of achievement and explore my life? Likely.

Pre College — I delayed my college process by one year and instead spent 4 months living in Costa Rica where I learned Spanish and was a student teacher at a local high school. I then came home for the holidays before setting off on my own for Portugal. I learned Portuguese and basically was a drifter in Lisbon for 3 months.

Post College — I delayed my employment 6 months to spend 4 months living at San Fransisco Zen Center. I followed a monastic schedule and worked for the temple. While there, I wrote a book on meditation and made new friends.

Activities I engaged in during my sabbatical:

Sabbatical 1 (Pre-College Gap Year to Live Abroad)

  • Visited long-time family friends and God-parents.
  • Lived in Costa Rica.
  • Learned Spanish.
  • Lived in Portugal.
  • Explored Western Europe.
  • Learned Portuguese.
  • Read books.
  • Tried (and failed) to start side hustles.

Sabbatical 2 (Living as a Zen Monk)

  • Few hundred hours of formal meditation practice.
  • Made new friends.
  • Studied Zen Buddhism.
  • Wrote a book.
  • Started a company.
Length of the sabbatical:

46 weeks

Biggest concern when contemplating a sabbatical:

Responsibilities – how can I afford the mortgage/take care of my family?

Some changes I made in my life post-sabbatical:

For lack of a better term, I woke up. Post both sabbaticals I had a renewed spiritual and mental training practice centered on awareness.

Why do you think others should (or shouldn’t) take sabbaticals? Are there occasions in life where it’s particularly helpful?

There is a saying in business of “check and adjust”. In other words — are you flying blind? Or are you regularly pausing to assess your trajectory and making course corrections? In my experience most people are so busy working in their lives that they don’t stop to work on in their lives. Time away creates spaciousness for being.

You can connect with Jackson Kerchis here.

Interested in more stories of people who took multiple sabbaticals? Check out Rebecca’s story.

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