the life I already have

In just over 9 months, I’ll start a paid 3 month sabbatical from work. I’m in the process of narrowing down how I want to spend it. I want it to be meaningful, intentional, and in some way allowing me to experience the world in a way I normally can’t. Thus far, I have a few different ideas for how to spend this time:

  • Build a tiny home and find a city to live.
  • Write the bulk of a book I am working on. 
  • Travel, travel, travel.
  • Spend as much time outdoors as possible in beautiful locations. 
  • Do a tour of places to visit loved ones and spend time with them in their world. 

I quickly realized that this first item needs to be crossed out: Build a tiny home and find a city to live. I have no clue where I want to live. Years of traveling, spending extensive time in different cities, and trying places on for size has ruined me in many ways. I am no closer to answering that question and, at this point, I’m learning to be okay with that. I know what is likely to happen there in any case. I’ll either meet someone who will pull me into their world and I’ll happily join them to build a life OR I’ll go live somewhere completely challenging that I know will force me to grow in some way I need. In true all or nothing fashion, I’ll pursue complete comfort or complete challenge. This is how I made the decision on what middle school/high school to go to (had a MAJOR crush on a boy believe it or not), where to go to college (went after what would challenge me in the form of a large public school), where to move after college (pursuing my heart), and how I landed in San Diego (pursuing the challenge of confronting surrogacy and truly getting to know my birthmom). It’s hilariously predictable at this point and, right now, I’m overdue for a “comfort” choice if this pattern persists. 

Let’s take these items out of the list now:

  • Write the bulk of a book I am working on. 
  • Travel, travel, travel.
  • Do a tour of places to visit loved ones and spend time with them in their world. 

I am doing all of this already while working. Using the sabbatical to do the same exact thing I’ve always been able to do seems like a potential waste at first glance. I want to use the time to do something different and something that would otherwise be impossible for me to do if I were working. This is when I land on this option: Spend as much time outdoors as possible in beautiful locations. 

I do this already to an extent. I must return to my computer, to wifi, and to modern comforts eventually though. This isn’t a bad thing. I’m actually quite fearful of the outdoors when I’m solo (mainly bears and rattlesnakes having encountered both far too often). When I think about the three months and what would fill up my soul the most, my mind eventually lands on the outdoors and time with loved ones. What that looks like and where it takes me time will tell. I am realizing though that I would rather go places more accessible for loved ones to join me than to go off by my lonesome at least for part of this 3 month section of my life.  

Having read colleagues’ experiences, I realized that this section of time is prime to accelerate changes in daily life that one might want to adopt. To this end, I’m keen on going on a silent meditation retreat at least for 3-4 days. While I joke about being a hermit, I think there would be something powerful about resetting so intentionally at the start of my sabbatical. 

The more I think about how to use these 3 months of my life, the more I realize how much I’m doing right in how I currently live. I do travel far and wide so much already. I do spend lots of time going out of my way to connect with loved ones. I’m already committed to writing the book. I absolutely love the outdoors and have had so many glorious memories of time out in nature. I don’t feel the need to use this time to upend anything, make massive changes, etc. There’s nothing that drastic or pressing that I want to change that I haven’t already gone after in my life while working. Ultimately, I want to use this time to simply live the life I already have with more depth and ability. What a reassuring realization that I am doing something right for my little soul and that I’m not relying on these 3 months to be anything more than an enhancement to my life :). 

6 comments

  1. > Ultimately, I want to use this time to simply live the life I already have with more depth and ability.

    I really love this sentiment and happy for you that you’ve come to this realization. It’s something I’m also thinking about as my own sabbatical approaches.

    1. Thank you, Dan. I’m curious to hear how your own thoughts take form as you get closer to your sabbatical. It’s definitely a gift that’s put me in a very thoughtful mood around my own approach to living this life we all have.

  2. I forget whose post it was, but someone said they used theirs to kick-start new habits really intentionally without work distracting them, and I’ve considered doing that with mine eventually as well, like learning a new language, making some lifestyle changes, etc. Not using the sabbatical to put them off, mind you, but really buckling down on things I sort of do already due to lack of time!

    I’d also consider going to some countries where internet makes it impossible to work (like China) or places closer-by that I wish I could have visited more off-grid and not been working (like Alaska, where I had to stay near the cities to get any internet). Whatever you do, just don’t put too much pressure on yourself. And feel free to come visit me, or let’s meet up somewhere! I’d love to go camping and hiking. 🙂

    1. YES to going places where internet makes it impossible to work. I’ve been thinking so much about that. “Whatever you do, just don’t put too much pressure on yourself.” > 100% this. I can already feel a bit of mounting pressure to make it be PERFECT and I need to let go of that. I would love to meet up during this time and that’s actually something I want to plan for – lovely patches of deep community time ❤

  3. Ultimately, I want to use this time to simply live the life I already have with more depth and ability.

    I am mostly in your and Dan’s camp here, though as my own sabbatical is a bit nearer a small risk presents itself every now and then – since work is an inseparable part of my the life I already have, how would trying to live almost the same life, but work impact my life when work comes back? Would any new habits be sustainable with the reintroduction of work? Would the extra depth be something I will have to live without after the sabbatical? Would the extra ability become part of my daily life that I will miss dearly when the sabbatical is over? The upside of doing something totally different is that the expectation of it being here to stay is very low.

    Anyway, I will report when I know more 🙂 In the meantime, what are everybody else’s thoughts on this?

  4. Mine is coming up at about the same time, and I’ve been thinking about it seriously for a while. What I found out was–a chunk of what I’m doing during that time chose me. Just being open to options brought a new awareness, which in itself is a pretty cool process. Can’t wait to see what you finally choose to do. Would love to meet up if you end up in the east 🙂

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