Proactively avoiding burnout

*originally written in early 2019, but still very relevant right now

I felt like I was going to throw up

It was the morning after enrollment ended on my founding member’s launch for Full Harbor Membership. I paced the living room, sweating and running my hands through my hair.

It wasn't because it was a total failure. In fact, I nearly hit my stretch goal of 135 founding members (132 joined). So why the sick feeling in my stomach?!

I was now on the hook. I built a treadmill I wouldn't be able to hop off of for the foreseeable future.

I went into overdrive trying to find a solution to my anxiety. I had to swap the voice in my head from saying "I don't know if I can do this!" to "What can I do to make this exciting and not feel like I will forever be glued to this thing I just made?"

That's when I remembered what my friend and mentor, Sean McCabe has been doing for about 6 years.

Seventh-week sabbaticals

This is just what I need. Every seventh week, nothing goes on the calendar, there are no regular obligations, and I can rest, relax, work on a personal project, or whatever it is I need to do to come back fresh and excited to get back to work.

This would also benefit the members. If I was throwing weekly challenges and workshops for 52 weeks in a row, no-one could keep up and this would generate as much burnout in them as it would in me.

Thoughts going into the first sabbatical

April 16th: So here I am at beginning of my first sabbatical. I've been looking forward to this, but I really don't have any expectations.

It's a beautiful thing to look at my calendar and see one 7 day long event called Sabbatical.

Nothing else.

No client calls.

No workshops.

No nothin'.

I am one to want to take advantage of all of my "time off." I used to schedule vacation to get back late in the evening on Sunday to maximize my time away. So it feels suuuuper weird to have nothing on the calendar.

Thoughts after the first sabbatical

April 21st: My wife and I were both doing the sabbatical and we debriefed at the end.

TL;DR … It wasn't as magical as we hoped it would be, but we see the value and we’re going to keep doing it.

What as awesome about it:

  • Edited a 1 min video of my wife first writer's retreat from earlier in the year

  • Made a bonus lesson for Full Harbor Membership

  • Went to the $2 theater and watched The Lego Movie 2 in the middle of the day by myself

  • Visited several different coffee shops to change things up

What we’re going to try next time:

  • We’re considering giving our week more structure:

    • 2 night camping trip to kick it off (hikes, reading, no computers)

    • Coffee shop/restaurant tour in Phoenix and reading/writing at each spot

    • Movie day: multiple movies at the theaters?! Yes plz.

  • On days without a specific plan, we’re going to keep our regular morning routine (workout, yoga, write, read).

    • We wanted to keep up our routine this week... but every morning, we woke up late and decided to skip the routine CAUSE SABBATICAL! What we thought would be liberating (skipping the gym) really just left us feeling more lost as to what to do.

  • When generally felt a like we didn’t do much… we found ourselves sitting around wondering what we should do (thus the element of structure for the next sabbatical)

Despite it not being a brilliant week full of blissful free time, I’m stoked to have another sabbatical on the calendar in another 6 weeks :D

Weekend sabbatical

If this sounds interesting to you, but you can’t take a full week off every 7th week… try doing a weekend sabbatical. One weekend every month, put nothing on the calendar and give yourself time to have fun, read, watch movies… whatever you feel like in the moment. You deserve and NEED to take time off and rest your mind.