How I'm not working as much but also still kinda working
I'm so glad you're at Foster! I can't imagine a more perfect fit. Otherwise, very much relate to so much of what you wrote above -- from the need to recover from burnout to memories of credit card debt to work being tied in with identity. Anyway, I hope things feel more sabbatical-esque soon. You deserve a bit of respite.
I work only 4 days a week... I make myself a a available for what’s to be done. Friday I “live” my personal life with chores, life projects, appointments, ... Saturday I include my hobbies, friends social... and Sundays I turn off my phone and I practice being. If I don’t get invitations for fun that feels like “hell yes” latest on Thursday, I don’t do anything that Sunday even if it’s hard sometimes to say no (afraid I am missing something fun) but I always end up rested and happy with myself being in my own juicy time... and ready to meet the world of service again.
It sounds like this has been a very valuable time for you to learn more about yourself and how you relate to work, family, time, and responsibilities. I can completely understand saying yes too often and wanting to Do All The Things--only to run up against the wall of human limitation.
But that’s the whole point: We’re human, and we can only do so much. We do, as you pointed out, need to give ourselves grace and lean into what’s most important. Something that I try to remind myself of on a regular basis is that life has seasons. What we’re doing at any given moment probably isn’t what we’re going to do forever. I find that realization gives a great deal of freedom to experiment, fall down, get up again, and go forward with what worked while letting go of what didn’t.
What I've always said about this, in short, is "Retire early, and often."
I'd say the first time was after high school, I retired to work for a year before going back to school at Cal Berkeley.
At thirty-one, I retired to go to grad school and start a business.
And then at forty-five, I sold that business and became an semi-pro athlete, adventure guide, and eventually... a writer :)
Great reflection on finding the right work to fulfill what you want out of life. Totally relate to the part about starting a new job, not asking questions and wanting to look like you're confident and have it figured out - that was me last year. I called it "perfectionism" when it was more similar to what it sounds like you experienced, a discomfort with being vulnerable and accepting that we don't know everything.
Kudos to you on figuring this out as you go.
I have always yearned for that "sabbatical" or, even more often, a retreat or something that would allow me to write full time at least for a period of time. And by writing, I mean time to think, to noodle, to read, to reflect AND to write stuff down.
Like you and Allison in this period, work has always happened for me in the context of parenthood, the single variety. And now, when those days are long gone, I find that a life full of people and relationships and responsibilities means the balancing act continues. There are the jobs that generate income and/or a sense of identity. Then there is the meaningful work that means giving up huge chunks of that other work. I see you working out that balance both in life and in your own heart and mind. It's clear that Em is in good hands and so is your writing - I guess your sabbatical is not work-free but can potentially operate in much the same way: you get to see what happens and what new insights arise when what you do every day and assume every day are suddenly very different.
Congrats on hitting 2k Lyle! Tobi is currently in England haha
Even though our circumstances are different, I can definitely relate to some of what you said - 1) the battle between abundance vs scarcity mindset 2) the identity piece of making money and how it makes us feel 3) not asking for help enough
I love that you ended with trying to be more gracious with yourself. That's so important, I try to tell myself all the time. It's so easy to get wrapped up in "I should doing X or Y" or making that decision over this. But there has to be an undertone of grace because like you said there's a big transition happening. And it's bound to feel jarring at certain points, we're walking in unfamiliar territory. But hopefully it gets better over time. So I wish you the best in this new season! Also, it's great you're working with Foster :)
Lyle, thank you so much for sharing my essay! I really enjoy talking to people about their sabbaticals, and it was interesting reading about your experience. Even though my background is different, I resonated with so much of what you said! When I transitioned out of the corporate world into my sabbatical, it was rough in a lot of ways. Like you mentioned, there’s a whole question of identity that crops up that used to be falsely safeguarded by a job title. I love the term sabbaticalish too haha I feel as if that’s the zone I’ve merged into now, and it’s not a bad place to be. Good luck with the rest of your sabbatical! I think it’ll be something you get used to and will cherish when you look back on this time in your life.
I wrote an essay earlier in the year called “Sabbatical Mindset” where I wrote about my own experience transitioning into a sabbatical.
I took five months of unpaid parental leave when my eldest was 6months old (after her mum went back to work). Many of the same sorts of realisations with regards to money, identity, etc. Glad to have been able to do it, though it'd be great to have the same opportunity now that we have another and they're both older and more interesting! We'll see if I can swing something.
Thanks so much for sharing this, Lyle! So much of what you’re feeling resonates with me. The scarcity mindset, the surprising degree of identification with work, the struggle to give yourself grace -- I’ve felt those deeply since I started my sabbatical.
It feels quite ironic how so many people take sabbaticals with the expectation of a certain degree of freedom, but we are so hard on ourselves, becoming prisoner to so many different internal narratives, that we struggle to enjoy that freedom. Such a tough, rollercoaster experience but I try to remember every roadblock and uncomfortable feeling is an opportunity for growth. I’ve found the growth isn’t linear - some weeks feel great and some feel like 10 steps backward toward discomfort and fear - but it’s really cool as you get deeper in to it to look back and see how far you’ve come on the whole.
Wishing you so much luck with all the new and different experiences on your plate these days :)
Congrats on 2,000! Epic. I just crossed 600. Good stuff. I’m enjoying Substack in general and Notes specifically.