.: | DECI SIONS + SISTERFRIENDS |:.
~circa Nov 2020~
One’s mind, when stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.
— Oliver Wendell Holmes
I am not an ardent follower of Oliver Wendell Holmes. And while I can’t quite pinpoint when I discovered that quote — it was likely in my late teens or early twenties — I do remember thinking that I finally had a way to articulate how I navigate the universe.
Once I’ve explored an idea and recognized that it is for me…i.e., researched all the things, asked all the questions, mulled it over (typically), maybe several times (if it critically impacts others besides me) and then can’t stop, won’t stop until it’s come to fruition!
As I shared in my last post, I’d finally reached the moment of knowing and now it was time to do.
Many of you have asked “what steps I took to get to a sabbatical,” “how I managed to take the time off,” “why didn’t I just get a new job,” “what did the company and your leadership say,” and many other questions. So I’ve shared the why and I’ll begin to talk thru the what in this post and perhaps, the next few.
You have to know that when I decided that I was going to step away. I was originally in the *flip-the-desk-and-throw-the-whole-job-out-for-a-year* mindset. I was prepared to Air BnB my condo and live with my parents or something. My pride want about to keep me from getting the reset I needed. I literally had no idea what I was going to do to cover the costs, but I would figure it out.
So that was the big fantastic approach, now it was time to make it feasible…
I looked into my company’s leave of absence programs. I’d known anecdotally that it is a solid program and personally knew of one person, one of my mentors actually, who had used it. As when i reached the point of socializing the idea with my leadership team, I later learned that at least one of my senior leaders had also used it as well as other leaders in the organization.
The most viable leave programs billed down to either a) ability to get paid, but had short durations (up to 3 months) and other commitments to the company and b) allowed for as much time as you needed, up to a year, but was technically unpaid, but you received a payout of any unused PTO.*
I opted for the latter.
This option worked for me because I had an inordinate amount of cash that the Digit app had squirreled away for an epic 40th Birthday Celebration — that wasn’t actually going to happen (thanks Pandemic!) — AND I had something like over 250 hours of unused PTO that I never needed to use because any time off that I took was comp’d / covered by the extreme hours I’d been billing for work. When i did the math, my PTO (less the 40 hours I left in the back door when I might come back to work) would cover my mortgage for 6 months and with some careful reviews of my Amazon subscriptions, and other first world comforts, I could support myself with the cash I had squirreled away.
So in a *the-universe-has-a-sense-of-humor* kind of way, the extreme house that triggered the sabbatical helped fund my sabbatical.
I distinctly remember during this time of researching and contemplating that I had opportunity to roadtrip and commune with my West Point sister friends. The circumstances were less than desirable — one of our sisters had lost her mother and we had our ATL and DMV contingents assemble to love on her in North Carolina. And I remembered just thinking, as is common in times of loss, that tomorrow isn’t promised and life is more than work and burnout.
With my new knowledge and reminder of what’s important, I reeled in my *flip-the-desk-and-throw-the-whole-job-out-for-a-year-mindset* and replaced it with a pressure tested plan and renewed desire and positive motivation to take care of self.
*There were medical leave options to consider, but I made a conscious decision to communicate that this was necessary for overall well being. Every person in their own sabbatical journey just decide what is right for their personal situation and reflect on the medical, financial, and other considerations that work for YOU.
If you are at the point of realizing and acting on taking a sabbatical, do what will ultimately have the best outcome for you. If my financial/medical situation were different, it’s quite possible that I would’ve pursued paid/or medical leave options. I’m happy to chat with folks who have more questions.