Your Sabbatical Needs A Ritual

 In Reflecting Back, Reflection, Sabbatical

I hear this storyline all the time…

“My company offers a four week sabbatical as a perk, and I have

been there for 6 years without ever taking advantage of it!”

If that sounds like you, then you are not alone! According to research data released in 2012, by Fast Company, 23% of USA companies offer a sabbatical option in some form, but only 25% of the top 100 companies to work for include a sabbatical perk.

What does this mean? 75% of companies in the USA don’t offer a sabbatical option, and the lucky people who actually work at a company that does provide a sabbatical: Don’t Take It!

The majority of people that I meet with who are about to embark on their sabbatical have one primary emotion…FEAR.

  • What if I don’t get anything out of this time?
  • What should I do?
  • I do not know how to spend my time.
  • I have waited so long for this time and now I don’t know where to start.
  • I am afraid of not being needed every day.
  • What if I waste this away by doing nothing extraordinary?


How is one to engage a sabbatical to the fullest?

Intentionally pausing from your professional work, beyond the scope of a 1-2 week vacation, can be extremely disorienting. Why? Because we so often define ourselves by our work…by what we do. To pause from that work or role or title is to pause from being who we are. (Note: I am not saying this is healthy).  

To truly engage your sabbatical experience, it may be helpful to create some rituals to provide gentle structure for the time. Here is what we propose!

Practice. Practice. Practice!

Treat a week of vacation leading up to the real experience as a practice sabbatical!

The Think Creative agency instituted a version of a sabbatical called the 40 Hour Sabbatical, which is one week of paid work per year for employees to intentionally refresh and grow as an individual. I love this idea. One reason sabbaticals are so intimidating is because they take place over an extended period of time. We don’t know how to prepare for such a gift!

So before you launch into a sabbatical experience, take a 40 hour sabbatical, which is one week for the mathematically challenged, to practice being on sabbatical. See what it feels like and what emotions come up for you. Take note of your experience as it will inform your actual sabbatical practice in the near future.


Share your expectations with a friend!

Take time to expose all the expectations you have about your sabbatical.

List out all the feelings and expectations you have about taking a sabbatical. Are you excited? Are you afraid? What do you hope to get done?

Now share this list of expectations with a friend and ask for feedback. It can be helpful to get perspective from someone else. It is likely that your sabbatical plan may need to be cut in half due to time restrictions alone. Your ever growing fear of being replaced while away for 4 weeks may be reduced by just talking about it with another human.


Focus on restoration rather than acquisition

Say “no” to the acquisition mentality when it comes to your sabbatical! Give yourself space to not do anything or learn anything in the first week. In fact, we recommend you focus on playing first. Take a walk in a beautiful spot or relax in the park. Go fishing or clean out your garage. Read a classic work of fiction rather than the stack of “business” books by your bed. 

Before you begin that research project or hop on a plane for the trip of a lifetime, it can be helpful to pause and reflect on your life. At the Reflection Ritual we believe that you can live a good story by intentionally reflecting on your current story and then setting intentions and goals for the future. Pick up our guided reflection Journal to help get the journey started.


Ps. Do you need some help creating a plan for your upcoming sabbatical? We would love to help. Send an email to and someone from our team will follow up with you.


Photo by Angelina Kichukova on Unsplash

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