Sabbatical Stories

Kevin’s total life transformation

A two year sabbatical to completely transform my life, leave the advertising industry, pursue a natural, minimalistic existence, and move with my wife and two children to Costa Rica — Complete life transformation and awakening.

We have the power to design our lives and lifestyles, but the system is designed to lure us in, take the power, and hide the truth; you don’t have to wait until you’re 65 to take a break.

Kevin on his sabbatical to transform his life

I was in a good job, and I was good at my job. I sold TV advertising and was making good money. But deep down I didn’t love what I was doing, I didn’t feel a sense of purpose and meaning in my work. After many hard conversations with myself and my spouse, I jumped ship and exited the workforce.

Time is our most precious resource. My children are 6 and 4 years old. They are at an age where they can do a lot on their own, but I am still awesome. I didn’t want to be stressing my way through this time.

I rejected the idea of “work until you’re 65, then retire and enjoy your life.” With planning, we can adopt a different lifestyle design.

We can intersperse periods of work with periods of non-work. We can have less stuff, live in smaller homes, consume less crap, and actually INCREASE our joy and contentment at the same time.

I evaluated my finances and our family’s monthly “burn rate”—our average monthly cost of living. Then it was simply a matter of reducing our expenses and saving up enough to cover the number of months I wanted for the sabbatical. Many of the things we buy, we don’t actually NEED, and honest examination of this is a big step.

Activities you engaged in during your sabbatical as possible:
– Meditation
– Trips with family
– Everyday BEING more with my kids. Being present when playing at a park or even around our yard or family room.
– Creating music
– Writing a blog
– Tracking my exercise
– Going through self-discovery exercises, mostly in a journal
– Reading books about topics I care about like mindfulness, minimalism, the environment…
– Having uncomfortable conversations with my partner and learning how to do it healthfully

Kevin and friends on sabbatical to transform his life

What catalyzed your sabbatical?
Negative event – death of a loved one, health/burnout, job loss, etc.
Positive event – company acquired, financial windfall, etc., Other

How long was your sabbatical (in weeks)?

Did HOW you work change at all, post-sabbatical?
Went from company employed to self-employed. Returned to totally different work.

Describe any changes you made in your life post-sabbatical:
I’m still in the middle of it, but I’ve totally revamped how I live my days and am laying the foundation to become self employed in a way that completely aligns with my values and areas of interest.

How did your sabbatical experience change the way you thought about your employer?
I had felt like a fraud in my industry; I sold TV advertising for a local NBC affiliate, but I didn’t even watch TV news. I finally quit the industry that paid me very well, offered me security, and didn’t align with my values.

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

We all need to slow down, especially in the United States. Companies demand too much from us, and we give too much ourselves mindlessly. We also operate under the false assumption that we need more money and need to climb corporate ladders when the truth is that many of us already have enough for right now.

If you feel stressed from work, if it’s impacting your sleep, if you think you might be in the wrong business—take a break.

It’s going to be scary. That’s normal. The system has taught you to want more. Remember- this is a temporary decision. For now, you have enough. Jobs will always be there. You won’t regret it.

You can read Kevin Carlow’s blog here.

Interested in reading more about taking a sabbatical while parenting? You might love Justin and Allison’s story.

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