If you’re familiar with Seventh Week Sabbaticals, you might think the idea sounds great. It would be nice to take off every seventh week and recharge!
There’s only one problem: you don’t control your schedule.
Even if you wanted to take off every seventh week as a sabbatical, there’s no way your boss would let you.
For many years, I had no alternative to sabbaticals for those with a day job. I said, “Part of being able to take off every seventh week means you have to control your schedule.”
While you do need to control your schedule to take full advantage of Seventh Week Sabbaticals, there are smaller ways you can start taking purposeful rest right now.
Have a Day Job? Take a Weekend Sabbatical.
You probably work 5 days per week and get weekends off.
You can’t take a full Seventh Week Sabbatical yet, but let’s look at what you have control over: weekends.
Weekend Sabbatical (for day jobbers):
Take off the LAST weekend of every month as a sabbatical (Saturday and Sunday).
While the Weekend Sabbatical is not quite as deep as a full Seventh Week Sabbatical, it’s still life-changing. This practice will pave the way for full sabbaticals and get you in the habit of making time for purposeful rest.
Follow the #1 Rule: Do not schedule ANYTHING for your sabbatical.
The Weekend Sabbatical still adheres to the same rule as the Seventh Week Sabbatical.
There’s only one rule: do not schedule anything for the sabbatical.
The purpose of this rule is freedom from obligation. I have an entire post dedicated to this rule: Freedom From Obligation (and the #1 Rule for Sabbaticals)
Before continuing, click that link and read the article.
Taking a Weekend Sabbatical won’t help you unless you follow the one rule.
Obligation isn’t restful, so you will defeat the purpose and restful effects of the sabbatical if you schedule anything for your Weekend Sabbatical.
If you’re wondering, “Sean, does this mean I can’t do anything on my sabbatical? Do I just stare at the ceiling?”
No, of course not. I also answer that question here: Freedom From Obligation (and the #1 Rule for Sabbaticals)
Here’s a quote:
You can do anything and everything on your sabbatical. But that is a decision you get to make on sabbatical—not beforehand.
The purpose of the sabbatical is freedom from obligation. When you go into a sabbatical, you should have NO prior commitments, so that you can say “Yes” to anything in the moment.
The reason this rule is so important is because margin itself is what you’re scheduling, and margin is not a luxury.
You will be amazed at the clarity that comes from this blocked-off time. A moment in your day when you’re not rushing from one thing to the next will feel incredible.
Examine your weekend.
You work 5 days and get 2 days off. What are you doing on your days off?
Well, you’re probably doing lots of things. Weekends may not be so “free” for you.
Like everyone in life, you start each day with 24 hours.
During the week, work takes up more than 8 hours. You have a routine built around work and do your best to accomplish other tasks and chores in the time you have left. Maybe you poke at your side project in the evening now and then.
You start every weekend day with 24 hours as well. The good news is, work doesn’t take 8 hours away from your weekend day.
So why does it seem like weekends just tend to disappear? They’re here, and they’re gone. They goes by so fast, it’s like trying to take a photo of lightning.
Where does all of the time go? Your time is gobbled up by commitments.
Your time is like a pie with 24 slices. Sleep takes up 8 hours (I hope!), which means you’re down to 16 slices. Little by little, you give each slice away. Sometimes you planned to give a certain number of slices away. Other times, a slice was taken from you when you weren’t paying attention.
Many Saturdays, you start with a commitment to give away 6 slices right from the beginning. During the week, you said “Yes” to a party at noon on Saturday. You said “Yes” to afternoon coffee with an old friend. Oh, and there’s that group you’re a part of with weekly meetings at 9:00 AM. You said “Yes” to that years ago. And Saturday dinners, of course. You’ve done those for as long as you can remember.
You don’t question any of these things. They’re just a part of your weekend.
The full day was accounted for. Now, the day is gone.
- Did you do what you wanted to do?
- Are you happy with how you spent your time?
- Would you change anything?
- Do you feel well rested and ready to go back to work on Monday?
None of those activities are “bad” things. But you want to choose how you spend the limited time you have. When you mindlessly follow an outdated routine, don’t be surprised when life takes you in a direction you don’t want to go and you’re left unfulfilled.
It’s time to take back control.
Break some (old) commitments.
You are where you are now, with the commitments you have, thanks to what your past self allowed.
A version of you in the past said “Yes” to something. You made a commitment. You allowed something. You agreed to go along. You set expectations.
Something that took me years to learn is commitments aren’t set in stone forever.
That sounds weird at first, because when we think of commitments, we think of them as something you take seriously. Commitments imply a sense of permanence—a sense of lasting.
When you commit to something, you’re saying you will stick to it. It’s good to commit to things. You want to be a person of your word. You want to be seen as reliable.
Where you can run into trouble is thinking that commitments must be forever.
Setting expectations is a good idea, but not all expectations should last until we die.
If you’re not careful, you can find yourself stuck in old commitments.
Your commitments were made in a different time and in a different context. They were made with different goals.
Right now, you may have new goals, but you may still be stuck in commitments that are taking you in a direction you don’t want to go.
If you don’t take a step back, you can find yourself in a place where you’re fulfilling commitments that don’t take you where you want to go.
You can find yourself fulfilling commitments that are not in service of your goals, which means you will end up somewhere you don’t want to be.
I needed to be reminded of this and maybe you do too:
It’s ok for your commitments to change.
You’re not a liar if you don’t do something for the rest of your life. You’re not a liar if you don’t stick to a commitment until the day you die.
It’s ok for commitments to change. The main thing is, when they do change, set proper expectations with people. Explain the reason, be respectful, and express gratitude.
People may not be happy when you decide to stop doing something you committed to doing a long time ago. They came to expect it and rely upon it—maybe even take it for granted. This is understandable. People don’t like change. Be patient.
Be kind, and acknowledge their feelings.
Stand firm, however. This is your life. The commitments you make should always be in service of your goals.
The right time to break a commitment is when your goals have changed.
- What do you want to accomplish?
- Where do you want to be?
- Who do you want to be?
You must reclaim your time. To say you “don’t have time for a sabbatical” is lazy and untrue. The first step is to acknowledge your control over your time.
If you don’t want to take a Weekend Sabbatical because doing so would require having some uncomfortable conversations, then at least be honest with yourself: you don’t want to be uncomfortable for a moment to improve your life in a significant way for years to come. At least be real about the truth.
You have time. You simply give it away.
One of the first things you may be tempted to do when you hear this is make excuses. It’s understandable: you’re under threat and want to protect yourself. When you’re called out on having time but giving it away, you will want to point to things you don’t control as reason for why you’re blameless. This is dishonest.
Look for the things within your control you choose to do that you know waste your time. You will find those things with honest reflection. Those are areas where you can reclaim your time.
You don’t lack time, you lack clarity in what you want and have time commitments that reflect your lack of clarity.
Without clear priorities, your time will disappear, and you won’t know why.
My goal is to help you give time back to yourself so you become a more rested and healthy person so you can give to others without burning out.
You can take a Weekend Sabbatical.
As a person with a day job, family, and responsibilities, the only thing keeping you from taking a Weekend Sabbatical is your decision to do so.
All that is required to give yourself the gift of rest, clarity, rejuvenation, and perspective with a Weekend Sabbatical is the decision to schedule an event on your calendar for the last weekend of the month right now.
Part of you wants this. That’s the only reason you’ve read this far. Some part of you knows you need to set aside time to find yourself again. You know you’re overworked and stressed. You know you need rest. There is some part of you that knows this, even if you’ve done your best to ignore it in your mission to push forward no matter what.
Listen to yourself. Pay attention to that small voice begging you to slow down.
If you can’t clear your schedule for one weekend a month to give yourself much-needed rest, it’s time to reevaluate your priorities.
You have a guide to breaking old commitments above. You understand you have control over your time. You’ve listened to the small voice telling you to rest.
Now it comes down to three simple steps:
- Decide sabbaticals are a priority to you.
- Break old commitments that no longer serve you.
- Schedule a recurring “Weekend Sabbatical” on the last weekend of the month (and keep it free of obligations).