Gap year of adventuring, parenting, and writing to find new purpose in my career
After 20 years in enterprise software, it was time for a sabbatical… to tackle some of the adventures on my bucket list, including the unplanned adventure of my boys’ online education. It was time to spend more time giving back to the causes I care deeply about. And it was time to take a few steps towards becoming an agent for change, using technology and community to help the world prepare for our biggest challenges.
Describe any changes you made in your life post-sabbatical:
I know that I ended my sabbatical as a different person than the one who started it, even if the mountain I’m climbing post-sabbatical is similar to the one I climbed before.
What catalyzed your sabbatical?:
I was in a season of life where everything was going great on the surface, but not so much underneath. I was quietly being re-orged out of my role. I had recently lost my father, my first role model for the “good life,” after a long battle with alcoholism and dementia. Success, Failure, Loss: I felt like all three of these things were happening to me at the same time. I was entering a valley. I needed a sabbatical.
List some activities you engaged in during your sabbatical:
Changing, Learning, Writing, Biking, Backpacking, Mountaineering, Snow-shoeing, Skiing, Volunteering, Fundraising, Coaching, Road-tripping, Parenting, Barbecuing, and Dog-adopting.
Tell us about your sabbatical:
My sabbatical started with the pandemic– my projects at work were canceled and I started wondering what my teenage boys were doing all day during their “online learning.” I decided to take some time off, focusing on family, adventures with my boys, and developing a sense of purpose to fuel the second half of my career.
I committed to sharing what I was learning with my LinkedIn community, and raise some money to help kids get outdoors as part of a Mt. Shasta fundraising climb. Although I never expected to take a full “gap year”, one adventure led to the other and I was learning and growing the entire way. Not everything went according to plan– I failed to summit Mt. Shasta, failed to complete the Death Ride, failed to circle the Tahoe Rim Trail, failed to complete the Collegiate Loop, and failed to discover some magical new career. But my sabbatical was perfect… because of whom I was becoming.
Describe the impact of your sabbatical in one sentence:
I’m now committed to becoming my “next mountain” self, the person that I was discovering over my period of sabbatical: Who is in constant search of a cause bigger than me. Who gives in order to grow. Who is always seeking to know myself better. Who learns from all of life’s journeys. And who views both victories and defeats from a position of humility.
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?
Maybe you’ve dreamt of taking some time between things to take a step back and reflect, and are afraid you’ll never actually do it. Maybe you remember being told “never leave a job until you have a new one.” Maybe you worry about what it will “look like” to push out a start date, or have a strange gap on your resume. Maybe you worry about the financial insecurity. Maybe you worry if you’ll actually enjoy spending more time with the kids, or if they’ll enjoy spending more time with you. Maybe you worry that you’ll get bored quickly, without a day job. Maybe you want to write, but worry that no one will want to read. That was me. All of it.
So I decided to take one, and learn and write and share about topics I cared deeply about: knowing when it is time to move on from a job that you love, how to give as you go, how to broaden your search to include the proverbial “second mountain,” and the power of an outdoor pilgrimage as part of this process. I don’t have anything close to all the answers to these questions, but decided to jump in and share what I was learning. If you are thinking of doing anything along these lines… go for it!
60 Awesome Moments from my Sabbatical
- Driving down Baja without a work worry
- Heading to Park City in the days before the total shutdown
- Hiking Big Basin before the summer fires
- Family tournaments: outdoor games, board games, card games
- Adopting Jax
- Road biking to the ocean every few weeks
- Desolation Backpacking with Jax
- 20 mile hike to Mt. Rose
- Spending July in Tahoe
- A week in Coronado Beach
- Starting a “backyard cocktail” tradition with friends
- Orange Skies in the Bay Area
- Spending a weekend solo in a Teepee
- Backpacking Alamere Falls with my Son
- Writing postcards for Biden
- Canyoneering with my Son in Capitol Reef
- Biking Moab
- Solo backpacking the Escalante Route of the Grand Canyon
- Maui Road to Hana
- Outdoor thanksgiving
- San Francisco walking tour with the family
- Christmas on the Lost Coast with the boys
- Tailgating Northstar
- Spending January Skiing, Hiking, Snowshoeing in Tahoe
- Hiking and Skiing Sawtooth Ridge
- Tahoe Spring Break with My Son: Snowmobiling, Snowshoeing, Cross Country Skiing
- Palm Springs / Joshua Tree with extended family
- Birthday bike ride to Zotts
- Nevada Falls hike with my best friend
- Biking Tioga Pass Road closed to cars
- Camping & Biking with our Life Group
- 20 miles hike through Purisima
- Preparing a summer’s worth of backpacking food
- Attempting Mt.Shasta with my brother
- Backpacking Lassen National Park
- Camping with the Family in Black Sands
- Backpacking the Lost Coast with my Boys
- Volunteering at Camp Royaneh
- 20th Anniversary Week in Healdsburg
- Anniversary Dinner at Singlethread
- Backpacking with family friends in Desolation
- Boating around Lake Tahoe
- Doing Training rides up Mt. Baldy
- Attempting the Death ride with my bud
- Attempting the Colorado trail with my son
- Rafting the Arkansas
- Reliving Blanco Basin & Durango with My Son
- Backpacking Chicago Basin, Climbing Mt. Eolus 14er with my Son
- Finishing a home remodel
- Spending a day brainstorming business ideas with my brother
- Getting together with old friends
- Showing my family DC
- Showing my family NYC
- Graduating from MEA
- Doing Executive Coaching with Chris – Finding My Mantra
- Volunteering at Second Harvest every week
- Raising thousands for BAWT in their AWK fundraiser
- Posting every week on LinkedIn
- Being there for my step-mom after her stroke
- Weekend with a group of guys with whom I have no secrets
You can check out Ryan’s articles here!
Interested in more stories of people leaving corporate roles to take sabbaticals? Check out Renee’s story here.