Recently, I gifted myself with a one-year sabbatical that my body, my mind and my soul were craving for a very long time.
The only way I can explain it is that I had a strong desire to feel free. Free of exhaustion. Free of doing more with less. Free of meetings, emails and deadlines.
I especially wanted to have this freedom — and some time to rejuvenate — before I shifted to another career in coaching and consulting.
It wasn’t easy getting there though. I was so very afraid of taking a year off, especially before launching a new business. I wondered if I could make it work financially, how it could impact my career and also what people would think. That bold Leap took me 15 years of discovery, planning, action, breakthroughs and breakdowns.
I honestly thought the career change was my big Leap and the year of freedom was a bonus. But actually, I was so wrong about that! There was so much learning in the freedom that I was not expecting. The most defining moment was when I realized a couple of months in that I was the very thing keeping me from the freedom I craved!
I wanted to share my journey with you — especially those who crave freedom, time off and making a big career shift. Where you find curiosity in the words below, follow. Where you feel emotion, I invite you to sit with it and be patient. If you want to take action, get in touch!
Looking back, here’s how my unplanned journey of nothingness played out:
- Months 1-3 I would call Staying stuck in the cycle.
The minute I stopped working, I did what came naturally. I over-booked, over-scheduled and over-committed. I unconsciously created the same exact situation that I had intentionally left. I did experience great, immediate relief with no emails, no meetings and no deadlines. But, by month 3, I was sick, exhausted and, most importantly, I didn’t feel free at all. I rallied my people — my long-time therapist, my favorite intuition and chakra coach, and also one of my favorite astrologers. I came to realize that what was missing was giving myself permission to actually take the time off, ditch the guilt, start saying no and feel my way through the day.
- Months 4-5 was all about actively Giving Myself Permission. This took practice every day and included giving myself permission to not set my alarm clock and sleep as long as my body wanted. Permission to not make any plans or set any goals. Permission to just be present in each moment – this was really tough for me. And permission to not feel guilty about any of the above.Once I granted myself this permission, the Corporate Detox started. My body and mind slowly unwound and I started to unlearn the unhealthy patterns I had embraced for so long. Being home, sleep, solitude and awareness and presence were part of this process.
- Months 6-10 was when I saw some Signs of Rejuvenation. I continued with the new healthy habits from months 4-5, but managed to accomplish quite a lot without ANY planning, stress, to do lists or timelines.Yes, I am speaking truth.
I really lived in the moment and was finally guilt free. Here are some of the things I accomplished:
- Completed a research paper on intuition for my Columbia University Coach certification
- Cleaned out a storage space full of lifetime treasures. I relived the first half of my life through pictures, letters and momentos. I laughed, cried and sighed. I reached out to old friends. And I initiated closure and asked for grace where I needed to. I could only giggle and comply with grace when several people from my past also reached out for closure from me. Can you say universe?
- Added simple, yet mindful, changes to my home décor so it better reflects me.
- Became certified in the The Neethling Brain Instruments (NBI™) Assessment.
- Completed Oracle card guide certification – so much fun!
- Months 11-12 was when I felt Ready to Leap into my new coaching career and get back to work. I woke up one morning – January 29, 2018 to be exact — and realized I missed corporate. Not my job per se – but the people, the intellect, the stimulation. From that day forward, I started working on launching my new coaching business … and here we are.
Over the next several months, I’ll be sharing some funny stories and realizations during this time off. But in the meantime, these are the 6 things I learned:
- Planning doesn’t always get us where we need to go. I never would’ve been able to intellectually plan this year the way that I needed it to happen. I needed to FEEL it out – and in the feeling and in the being, I found the freedom.
- I had to learn how to get out of my own way. Yup, I was my biggest obstacle to overcome. The guilt. The structure. The planning. The habits. I had to find the courage — and give myself the permission — to let it all go.
- Corporate Detox is real. If you think the politics, power plays, travel, meetings, emails and general overwhelm isn’t getting to you, think again. I was faithful to many mindful and rejuvenation practices while I was working, so I was floored by how much physical, emotional and intellectual detox I still went through during my time off. This only reinforced my belief that boundaries, mindfulness, relaxation and rejuvenation are not luxuries – they are necessities in today’s 24-7 wired world.
- My fire had been smoldered and I needed to rekindle it. When I was looking through my storage space treasures, I was amazed by how much fire I had in my 20s and 30s – both in my writing and in my being. For anyone who doesn’t follow astrology, the fire element represents truth-telling, passion, zest, spontaneity, creativity and intuition. While my career up until this point was incredible, it wasn’t ideal for fostering – or even tolerating — the natural fire that exists in me. In order to fit in and be successful, I willingly extinguished it. During my time off, I’ve been slowly rekindling my fire and it feels good.
- The hiding is over. Life is just too short to hide who you are and what you are meant to do. Without even realizing it, I chose a career where I could hide who I was very easily. I became the spokesperson for everyone and everything but myself! No more of that.
- This mid-career break was a preview of retirement. Yup, I am so very glad I took this break mid-career. It gave me some insight into how I might feel, do and be in the next stage. And it gave me some things I need to re-think.
So I leave you with this.
You don’t have to take a year off to get things moving — hey it took me 15 years of prep work to get there!
A great way to start is to sit in quiet for 30-60 seconds, try to quiet your body and mind a bit, and just follow where your soul leads you with these questions…
- Where can I let go and get out of my own way today?
- How can I be kinder to my body, mind and soul?
- Where can I strengthen my boundaries?
- Should I think about beginning or recommitting to mindfulness, relaxation and rejuvenation?
- Where am I hiding?
- Is anyone or anything putting out your fire / earth / air / water?
Just start to make one change today. Your body, mind and soul will thank you!