I just came back from my two-month sabbatical! Each year, it is the ultimate refreshment to be able to check out, eliminate my workload and rest in God’s creation and at His feet.
Just like when I mentioned that I am a homeschool mom and people say, “Oh, I could never do that!”, I get the same response when I tell people that I take two months off each year during my annual sabbatical.
They just can’t envision that taking a real chunk of time off could be part of their lifestyle too.
During the other 10 months of the year, I homeschool two kids, run two businesses, am a wife, and a mom, serve in my church and do all the things that life requires. It’s a busy life in which I have learned to implement “calm zones” during each busy day but there is a beautiful rejuvenation that happens when I turn off for two months. Side note: don’t get me wrong – during the 2-month sabbatical, I am still a wife, mom, and serve in our church but there is just more time to soak it all in and refine and evaluate those roles!
Life doesn’t really stop during a sabbatical, the pressure does.
God’s Design for Our Lives
God didn’t design us to hustle and live the “rat race” type of life.
Here are some areas of the Bible that speak on rest:
But in the seventh year, there shall be a Sabbath of solemn rest for the land, a Sabbath to the Lord. You shall not sow your field or prune your vineyard.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”
So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
The LORD replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted, but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; will run and not be weary, and they shall walk and not faint.
The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.
Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day, God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done
God set an example when he rested after creation. Jesus set an example when he would pray and fast and take time away to be with the Father. In Biblical times every seventh year was a rest year and Shabbat (or the Sabbath Day) happened every single week.
Though our culture has truly become workaholic worshippers, it will absolutely at some point in life, lead to burnt out, disease, melancholy, and a low-quality mindset.
Workaholism is just not worth it at all.
Trading your health for what the world views as a success simply won’t fulfill you.
Different Dynamics in Each Individual Life
I realize that everyone really does lead different lives each with different dynamics and that we are all in different seasons of life but what if it could be possible for you to take a serious chunk of time off life each year?
If you were able to do that, what would you do (or not do) during that time?
Assignment Number One
Right now, while you are dreaming or wishing you could take a sabbatical, I want you to pause reading this article for your first assignment. Take out a sheet of paper and a pen and write a vision list of exactly what you would do if you could take a month or two off of the pressures of life each year. Go ahead now and take the time to do this assignment.
Now That You’re Back
Hopefully, you took some time to write down that vision list because I promise you that if you intentionally design your life (over time), the things you wrote down on that vision list WILL happen someday.
Keep reading because I have one more assignment towards the end of this article that will help you get on your way to taking a real sabbatical.
A Sabbatical Practically Speaking
By definition, a Sabbatical means ceasing.
- Cease being in sympathetic mode
- Cease subjecting your body to chronically high-stress hormones
- Cease forcing your mind to run a mile a minute and always be on (or distracted)
Taking a Sabbatical does not happen overnight (unless initially you are forced like I was through illness). Don’t do that. It’s not fun to be forced. It’s much more fun to make it your choice.
It takes intentional choices over a period of time (months or even years) to be able to get to a point where you are able to take a Sabbatical.
What My Sabbatical Looked Like
⦿ Diving into God’s Word daily and sometimes multiple times per day. Spending extra time at Jesus’ feet.
⦿ Two months off work. I own my own businesses, so I am able to decide when this is, and delegate as needed to keep my businesses running while I am off. The first month I intentionally DO NOT think about work or doing anything work-related (even behind the scenes). The second month, on a VERY limited time basis, I put in time ON my business (things like strategy, systems, upgrades, etc.)
⦿ No homeschool for both months (we don’t homeschool year-round anyway) and I don’t do any homeschool planning during the first month. Usually, the second month is August, and I must take some time to plan our school year that month. However, planning is something that I love so it never feels like work.
⦿ One full month of NO appointments for anyone in my family. Sometimes I can finagle two months without appointments but that’s a little harder. This just frees up my time coordinating things for my family and for myself.
⦿ No social media posting and very limited consumption only from people that fill me up in regard to my hobbies and don’t evoke unwanted feelings. I.e.- no news, things that make me feel envious, sad, disenchanted, frustrated, etc. On some sabbaticals, I literally put my phone and devices away and only use our landline if I need to make a phone call.
⦿ Spending extra time with my kids and husband as well as extended family. This is something that brings me joy and not strife. Sometimes we take vacations and sometimes it’s just in the form of playing games, doing fun things around our community, or in nature. This year, we went and visited family in another state and spent 10 days at the lake with extended family. Being in the water is the quintessential mood changer for me! During our lake trip we also played a lot of mini golf, did the go-karts, kayaked, paddle boarded, peddle boated, fished hiked and saw lots of wildlife.
⦿ Sleeping in and sleeping a lot. Getting up slowly and sometimes without an agenda for the day becomes a habit.
⦿ Reading books and lots of them. (Book review post coming soon!)
⦿ Spend LOTS of time in nature. I love spending time at the river near us.
⦿ Being creative and devoting time to hobbies that 9-10 months of the year I don’t have big chunks of time to devote time to do. Some of those are: watercolor painting, photography, cooking, scrapbooking, gardening, sewing, and building things (in the past I have ship lapped a room of our house, built an essential oil wall rack and more.) This year I started learning how to build a house from start to finish!
⦿ Several of these things I still do during non-sabbatical months but without the responsibility/pressures of normal life, work, homeschooling, they are experienced and felt on a much deeper level.
Creating Goals that Lead Toward Taking a Sabbatical
Remember, whatever you say yes to, you are also saying no to something else.
So, if your goal is to take a sabbatical in the coming year or years, then the choices you make from now until then should reflect your goal.
That means that you won’t continue to take on more and more.
It means you will begin the process of delegation.
It means, that if you are a business owner, you will hire support as needed so that you are able to keep your business running while you’re away.
It means, if you work for someone, you negotiate 1-2 months off each year or maybe one month of part-time work. Yes, it can be done. I know what you’re thinking. (wink, wink). Did you know that in Europe it is extremely common to have 1-2 months off work each year? In fact, one month of PTO is mandatory there.
If you want to introduce a sabbatical into your life and you see that the situation you’re in right now is not conducive to that, then it’s time to take a time out.
Assignment Number Two
Take out another piece of paper or write on the back of the first one with your vision list and write down what would need to change in order for you to take one or two months off each year.
You might have items on the list like:
- Clear my calendar for a week or two and work up to clearing it for a month or two.
- Meet with your boss.
- Start looking for a new job
- Save up money to pay for one to two months’ responsibilities.
- Search for hired help
These are just a few basic examples but because everyone lives a vastly different life, you’ll have to write down the specific changes that fit your life, your season, and your needs. Start with the small changes and work up to the big changes. Also, start with taking smaller increments of time off and work up to bigger ones. Really take some time to ponder this as well as pray about it. Set deadlines and write down your strategy around each of the bullet points you come up with. Put this list into action as soon as possible and keep both your vision from assignment one and this assignment visible so you can see it every day.
Taking Time off to Stay Well
Even if the idea of taking a sabbatical still feels daunting, I would encourage you to pray about it, ponder it and devote time to the idea. Over time, God will show you exactly what could work for your life. I coach my members on the G.R.A.C.E acronym and it stands for Give Radical Acceptance Cease Excuses.
I urge you now to ditch the hustle mentality, throw out any excuses that come up, and seek out the rest that God so desperately wants to give you. Your sabbatical will look different than mine and may not be as long (or it may be longer), but do what you can to reach that goal of a break for your body, mind and soul.
I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes (I don’t know who said it):
Nothing changes, if nothing changes.”
If you do these two assignments and/or implement a sabbatical or you have any questions, I would love to hear from you in the comments below!
*Outside of Jesus’ and God’s example, I got the inspiration and learned about taking a sabbatical from Michael Hyatt.