The Power of a 9 Day Sabbatical: 2018 Inventory and Insights

In an effort to practice what I preach, I paused and took a 9 day sabbatical to close out 2018. It was a very powerful exercise which gave me time to take inventory of my life and the many moments, events and experiences that impacted me in 2018. I was able to slow down and reflect on how I spent my time, who I spent it with, and more importantly I was able to discern if the answer to these two observations were in alignment with my core values and how I want to live my life.  I talk and write about the, “what if you gave yourself permission to pause and ask yourself powerful questions” all the time so I decided to take my own advice.  I will attempt to share my insights and observations and wrap up this article with 50 work life principles for you to consider.  If you have the time perhaps you can do some 2018 inventory by taking the 2018 Reflection Exercise at the end of the article.

My 2018 Insights: Maybe you will relate to some of mine but better yet, I hope my insights spark yours.

  1. I am not good at pausing and need to get better at it for my health and sanity.
  2. I need to practice patience with myself and others.
  3. I need to leave more time in my calendar to do nothing and more time in between appointments.
  4. When my house is not in order it doesn’t feel peaceful and I feel unorganized and unsettled. I love a clean home.
  5. The things that stay at the bottom of my to do list are there for a reason… I don’t like doing them. This is a problem because some of them should be at the top of the list.
  6. I have a lot of friends of which I am grateful but I have a handful of people that are in the “sacred circle of trust”. These are the people I want in my fox hole.
  7. I need to spend more time and energy on the things and the people I love.
  8. I hate gossip especially when I do it.
  9. I am lousy at doing “Martha Stewart” type things like Christmas cards etc. My grandmother was great at this stuff… but they say it skips a generation.  I believe them, so I am not going to force myself to be something that I am not.
  10. I am very self-aware which is good as long as I keep things in perspective and manage my expectations.
  11. Time and energy are valuable commodities and I need to be very intentional regarding how I use both.
  12. I love learning, being around genuine optimistic people, challenging the status quo, asking people powerful thought provoking questions and helping them find their own answers.
  13. The thing that makes me the happiest is seeing people at peace… healthy, happy and whole.
  14. Taking a year-end sabbatical is one of the best things I have ever done and it will become a new ritual in my life. I highly encourage it! 🙂

I am Grateful for:

  1. All the people who have helped and loved me along the way.
  2. My health…. I feel blessed that I am over 50 and feel physically healthy, emotionally happy and spiritually whole.
  3. Friends, family, dance, yoga, music, art, laughter, my ability to do my life’s work and all the things that bring positive energy into my life.
  4. The joyful moments, the adventures, my ability to see the positive rather than the negative, for my faith and hope in humanity and the challenges I faced and overcame, and all the people who helped me stay hopeful and resilient.

Primary Observation: What I noticed most as I reflected over 2018…  the most meaningful moments were the times that I shared, collaborated and spent with people that I care about and love.

Biggest Take-Away: My mom was in the hospital 9 times in 2018 so I recognize that health is a precious gift we are all given, and not to take it for granted. Her will to live has been the most amazing thing to witness and I am so proud of her warrior spirit. Never underestimate yourself or anyone’s capacity to endure life’s challenges. It is one of the many mysteries that modern science can’t measure nor harness. Don’t ever miss an opportunity to say I love you. 

Disclaimer: After I cleaned my house for 60 hours and did most of the things at the bottom of my to do list, I paused so the true sabbatical could begin.

During my sabbatical I came up with the below list and thought you might find some of the recommendations helpful.

50 Work/Life Principles to Consider:  

  1. Pause to check in daily
  2. Be present in the moment
  3. Practice self-awareness and self-care
  4. Rest, exercise and fuel your mind and body for optimal performance
  5. Develop good strategies to self-regulate and manage stress
  6. Smile and laugh often and integrate play into your day
  7. Challenge yourself to do something new every day
  8. Be quick to give a hand up
  9. Don’t hold negative thoughts in… share how you are feeling with people you trust
  10. If you can’t let it go… just let it be
  11. Identify your needs and ask for help – PROACTIVELY
  12. Get help if you have unhealthy habits
  13. When anxious, sad or angry identify what is triggering you
  14. Communicate, collaborate and co-create
  15. Know yourself and be true to “you”
  16. Keep the big picture in mind and know where you fit in
  17. Be clear on your intentions and use your time and energy wisely
  18. Identify what you want, prioritize and do it
  19. Set healthy boundaries for yourself and with people
  20. Focus on winning the war not every battle
  21. Look for ways to be efficient and effective
  22. Keep learning, growing and asking yourself and others powerful questions
  23. Focus on solutions rather than problems
  24. Identify opportunities to simplify
  25. Stay aware, curious and flexible
  26. Challenge the status quo
  27. Don’t be afraid to take a leap of faith
  28. Always consider new possibilities
  29. Don’t spend more money than you make
  30. Take a break from social media
  31. Stop texting and pick up the phone and have a conversation
  32. Before you assume, inquire
  33. Practice inclusion through your actions
  34. Choose peace… not drama
  35. Preform an act of kindness everyday
  36. Be grateful even when you don’t want to
  37. Say thank you, please and I am sorry
  38. Focus on keeping your side of the street clean
  39. Be happy for people not envious
  40. Don’t take your health for granted
  41. Lift people up don’t tear them down
  42. Words are powerful so choose them wisely
  43. Give out hugs freely
  44. Don’t miss an opportunity to say I love you
  45. Have compassion for yourself and others
  46. Seek the truth
  47. Be grateful for all things
  48. Don’t fear…have faith
  49. Trust the process
  50. Align your purpose with your passion

2018 Reflection Exercise: 

Reflect and write down:

    • What you learned about yourself and insights you noticed
    • What you are grateful for in your life and why
    • One primary observation you made about yourself
    • The biggest life lesson and what that taught you
    • What you want to do more of in 2019
    • What you want to do less of in 2019

“To be vulnerable takes courage, to say I am sorry takes humility, to pause and appreciate the moment takes awareness, and to love is to open up to all the beauty the world has to offer.” – Terrie Elizabeth Reeves

For all you high achievers out there, I leave you with this, “just because you can doesn’t mean you should”.  Pause daily, make time for self-reflection, don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy the present moment and choose to live 2019 with greater intention. To anyone that has taken the time to read this, I hope you found it meaningful. Here’s to a year full of adventure, love, laughter, good health and happiness… may your life take you where your heart leads you.