Yearly Focus

Sabbath Year – After Nine Months – Sabbath While Working

I have now been back at work for about two months and wanted to take this month’s update to reflect on what it is like to be working while trying to take a sabbath year.

Last year when I set out to define what our sabbath year would look like – I knew that there were a few major details about the latter half of the year that were yet to be determined. As I speculated on how things might play out, I knew where the risks lied. I wrote:

“I am fine with returning to work, but would likely look to set up the first six months in a way that was conducive to the sabbath year principles – either fewer hours, less strenuous projects or staying in familiar territory rather than taking on bold new ventures. This will be an area I will have to pay close attention to.”

As I predicted, there has been a lot of pressure, internal and external, to take on a role that has bold goals and long hours. I ended up returning to a newly created role that is very different than anything I had done before. The role is full time, an because the role involves talking directly with our customers, my hours are dictated by when they are available – which means there isn’t a ton of flexibility.

That said, I do feel this role is conducive to the sabbath year for a number of reasons. First, it allows us the flexibility to decide where we live now and when + where we will move to next. That was one of the major topics of reflection we had set aside for the year. Second, the role is at a company I have been at for a long time, so there isn’t much of a learning curve. This means I was able to start adding value right from the start without having to spend a ton of time digesting new information and learnings the ins and outs of how to get things done within a new organization. In addition, the role is still ramping up which means it isn’t yet as difficult as many roles I’ve had in the past. I’ve actually found this is pretty common with new roles because it takes some time for an organization to fully understand a new role and to fully load it. Where as longstanding roles often take on all sorts of adjacent work that no one else owns, a new role isn’t yet burdened by that inertia.

With all of that considered, I would maintain the position I wrote last month that the best working conditions for a sabbath year would be “to keep as much the same as possible, but to perhaps scale back their working hours by 25-50%”. I would say that regarding my job, I kept ~50% of things the same and scaled back by 10-20% from my previous peaks. Not perfect, but better than many potential outcomes.

Attempting to work, raise four kids, train for a marathon, complete this year’s focus items and also to have a restful sabbath year has been difficult. It mostly means I have cut out many other things I used to do. Really, everything else that isn’t those things. Actually, even some of those items are getting less attention than they should. Progress on my 2018 focus items and on the broad searching I was supposed to be doing during the last three month period of the sabbath year was reduced to a minimum.

I shouldn’t have been training for a marathon. There are also a few other odds and ends projects I took on that weren’t urgent. As I reflect it is clear that working isn’t the big blocker, working just means I need to cut out anything that isn’t leading my family or the sabbath year.

Now is a good chance to reset.

At this point we are in the final three months of our sabbath year. This last period was designed to be focused around reentry – starting to look at what is next and what we need to do to prepare ourselves for that.