A 15-month sabbatical to rest and recover – surviving burnout, grief and corporate restructuring
You don’t realize how exhausted you are until you give yourself permission to rest.
Tell us about your sabbatical:
When I was offered a job by my company that was essentially a demotion, my lawyer asked me if I felt I was being set up for success. The answer was a resounding no. I think it’s an excellent question to use when you are presented with a choice. What path sets you up for success? In the 5 years prior to the restructuring, I experienced 2 deaths in the family, had an almost fatal car accident due to overwork and burnout and changed jobs. I was exhausted and knew I needed to rest – the idea of having time off during the middle of a pandemic was appealing.
What activities did you engage in during your sabbatical?:
Reading, researching, studying futures thinking, meditation, exercising, resting, relaxing, spending time with family, tutoring my girls, creating a podcast and community called The Janus Oasis, home renovations, extending and deepening online relationships and networks, learning diverse technical skills, content marketing, video and marketing strategy, being interviewed for national news across Canada on multiple channels – newspaper, TV and radio, guesting on podcasts, founding my own business and supporting my husband’s business.
What catalyzed your sabbatical?
Negative event – death of a loved one, health/burnout, job loss, etc.
How long was your sabbatical (in weeks)?
How would you rate the experience of taking a sabbatical?
One of the best times of my life
What were you most concerned about when contemplating a sabbatical?
Money – it’ll cost too much!, Optics – what will colleagues, friends and family think of me?!, Responsibilities – how can I afford the mortgage/take care of my family?
How likely are you to recommend taking a sabbatical to someone?
Did HOW you work change at all, post-sabbatical?
Went from company employed to self-employed, Committed to taking significantly more time off (e.g. 4 day workweek, or summer’s off)
What kind of work did you return to?
Totally different work
Describe any changes you made in your life post-sabbatical:
I decided to work for myself and created a consulting firm specializing in helping organizations create hybrid/remote solutions that work now but also 5-10 years from now.
How did your sabbatical experience change the way you thought about your employer?
My role was restructured after 17.5 years – sabbatical gave me the time and space to separate my identity from my employer and reconnect with my innate skills and unique value.
Why do you think others should (or shouldn’t) take sabbaticals? Are there occasions in life where it’s particularly helpful?
I’d encourage everyone to take a sabbatical if they can afford to take one. Any time there is transition in life – new baby, death, marriage, divorce, graduation etc. – it’s useful to ground yourself in the changes in your personal life so you can feel rested and relaxed before returning to work. Change is constant and we need time to understand how we feel. It’s a real commitment to health and wellness. I also recorded my own podcast episode about my sabbatical – it’s one of my most popular episodes.
Looking for more sabbatical stories that started with burnout? Check out Kimberly’s story here.
You can connect with Nola Simon here