When I was married, I became obsessed with the book, The Marriage Sabbatical: The Journey that Brings You Home, by Cheryl Jarvis. At the time I felt a strong need for a break from married life, so I relished every word.
The book was filled with stories of women who had taken “time off” from their relationship to focus on themselves - and the need to occasionally “take a break” to focus on ourselves.
Like so many of the women outlined in the book, the idea of taking alone time seemed impossible.
I told myself that my husband couldn’t possibly survive without me for any period of time. And no matter how much I craved for some time alone, I didn’t feel worthy of time to myself.
I didn’t believe that I had the right to it.
And I know I’m not alone.
So many of us believe that taking time for ourselves is selfish and impossible.
We fall into the trap of believing that we’re the only ones who can do “it” or that our partners can’t handle the household without us - especially if children are part of the equation.
We believe that being busy is the only way of life and that anything else is lazy, self-absorbed or frivolous.
I can relate.
For a long time, laziness was my number one trigger . . . but I now recognize that putting myself first is the ultimate gift I can give myself and others in my life!
And no matter what I used to think, I’ve learned that it’s healthy to be selfish.
Because being selfish has nothing to do with being cruel or self-absorbed. It means knowing when to say no, how to prioritize your self-care and go after the things you want in life – so you can pave the way to a life of your own design.
One of the ways I am selfish is that I now I believe in sabbaticals.
More than just “me time”, sabbaticals are radical ways you can reconnect with yourself and truly learn what you most desire.
It can take quite a bit of mental rewiring to believe you have the right to this, but essentially taking a sabbatical means taking a break from your everyday life - whether it’s a night, week or even a month.
It’s about taking a break from your ordinary life to deepen your relationship with yourself.
Think of it as a pattern interrupt.
And whether you’re in a relationship or not, whether you have a lot of money or very little, whether you have kids or not, taking a sabbatical is truly possible.
Now, I know some of you might be sitting here thinking, “It’s easy for you, Nancy. You don’t have children, or an employer or even a spouse.” But, I promise what I’m suggesting here is within reach - I’ve seen hundreds of clients take advantage of a sabbatical, no matter how many responsibilities they have on their plate!
And here’s the most important part - I’m not asking you to consider this for me. Taking a sabbatical is truly just for you.
For many of my clients, taking a break from their daily life or routine can be the only way that they can hear their own needs, preferences, and desires.
It can also be the only time that you’re willing to tell yourself the truth about the current state of your life.
When I suggest this idea of a sabbatical, it might sound radical at first - but, if you’re anything like me . . . the idea probably sounds intriguing and even delectable.
So, how do you get started?
Well, for starters, I’m not suggesting you give up everything in your life and make a run for it. No, that’s just running away.
Taking a sabbatical is more about being intentional with your time.
It begins by looking at your life and seeing how you can carve more you time in a fresh and exciting way. Maybe you already take time to do yoga, workout or even meditate.
But what if you were to take an hour and do something different? Something where you can just listen to the inner whispers of your soul and not be distracted by the noise.
You might even work-up to a whole evening to yourself. One of my clients, Claire, has an arrangement with her boyfriend where one night a week she sleeps in their second bedroom and gets the evening to herself - she enjoys being able to watch TV until whatever time she pleases and not having the dogs jump onto her bed in the middle of the night.
It may seem simple - but that act, allows Claire to be more present, grateful and happy in her relationship.
I’ve also known couples to take separate vacations - where one spouse may choose a meditation retreat or spiritually oriented workshop and the other spends time with friends.
No matter what you choose for your own personal sabbatical, the key is being more mindful about it. Be as present as you can. Certainly if you need to recharge by binge-watching your favorite shows, then go for it.
The key, however, is to not make it a habit.
The idea of a sabbatical is about getting to know yourself better, to recharge, and to fill yourself with self-love.
In order to do that you have to be purposeful and self-nurturing.
To begin, I often recommend that you create a Personal Sabbatical Plan. In my book, Permission to Put Yourself First, I offer exercises to help you brainstorm what a sabbatical might look like for you!
Write out all the possibilities from the simple to the extraordinary and see what feels comfortable for you. My hope for you is that you’ll love this time so much, that you’ll build in a regular routine where you truly get to put yourself first in brave and powerful new ways!
P.S. Hungry for additional support to help you learn how to take a sabbatical and put yourself first? Right now, the ebook version of Permission to Put Yourself First is only $1.99 on Amazon, Apple and Nook! So grab your copy and find exercises, tips and stories of real people who have taken the bold steps to put themselves first!