5 Ways to Take a Semi-Sabbatical

I have written previously about the power of the pause, and how important it is to step away and press the reset button from time to time. I did so last week. I am freshly returned from my 6th Annual #IndieCruise Mastermind Retreat for Creative Entrepreneurs, and I have firmly pressed the reset button. Here is a video that one of our speakers, Stacia Guzzo, created to showcase how we “sunned and funned” in Cancun, Yucatan, Mexico.

Stacia used Animoto for this video, and she highly recommended it, and demonstrated how to use it, in one of our our #IndieCruise Mastermind sessions. Her presentation inspired several attendees to give video a try. I'll share some of them in a future post, but first, I want to tell you about the power of taking a semi-sabbatical.

What is a Sabbatical?

A sabbatical is a period of time during which you retreat from the demands of your “normal” life to enjoy unstructured, but also productive, time.

University professors often take sabbaticals for several months during which they take deep research dives into their areas of expertise — usually for the mutual benefit of the university and the professor. For example, a professor might use a sabbatical to create a new course syllabus, prepare to defend a doctoral thesis, or write a book that will be published by the university. In any case, the sabbatical simultaneously benefits the professor and the university.

What is a Semi-Sabbatical?

The equivalent event for creative entrepreneurs is a kind of semi-sabbatical, where you take time away to take a deep dive into your life and business, with the goal of benefiting both.

This is what happens annually on #IndieCruise.

While we don't stop checking email or managing some tasks associated with our businesses, we spend the bulk of our time in Mastermind sessions and working groups. These sessions are often impromptu, and can take place anywhere: in our formal meeting room, on the beach, at the pool, at lunch, or on a bus while moving from one excursion location to another.

We are comfortably dressed in sandals, athletic shoes or flip flips … or no shoes at all.

We are often wearing a swimsuit and a beach cover up … even in our meeting room.

We enjoy belly dancing, yoga, long walks or runs on the beach, cocktail parties, handmade gift exchanges, laughter, tears, and so much more. It's a mix of working on our businesses and ourselves. While we do not unplug from business completely, when we do plug in, it's with martini in hand or while reclining in a comfortable beach chair under sunny skies with gentle Caribbean waves as our background music.

It's a sabbatical from real life, alternated with periods of intense learning, sharing, and planning … oh, and we're in an exotic Caribbean destination. (This is not necessary, but it sure does help.)

5 Ways to Take a Semi-Sabbatical

If you missed #IndieCruise this year, here are 5 ways to take a semi-sabbatical until you can join us next year on #IndieCruise 2017. (Stay tuned for an announcement about that soon!)

  1. Take a plain old staycation

    Instead of heading to your studio or home office, just stay home and do stuff you like. If you miss engaging your lifelong love of knitting, take a day to make a beautiful scarf. If you love to cook, make up some fancy recipes you normally don't have time for, and invite a friend over for lunch or dinner to enjoy the fruits of your downtime.

    Read a book that's been gathering dust on your night stand, the victim of your good intentions for too long. Just doing whatever comes along that suits your fancy throughout the day can stimulate your creative juices and rev up your engine for the next phase of your life and business.

  2. Spend time in nature

    A June 2015 study in the journal Environmental Psychology concludes that “microbreaks” around nature — even computerized nature — improves focus and task performance. That's probably not a surprise to you, but when was the last time you went for a walk in the local park or headed to the closest body of water to unwind and relax? You can do this, and, according to the study, you'll be making yourself smarter and more capable and productive in the process.

  3. Go to the spa

    Whether it's the mani-pedi place at the strip mall up the street or a swank downtown spa, either can be the location for the getaway you need to refresh and rejuvenate. Even the strip mall locations have massage chairs these days. The one near me recently started offering clients chilled wine and water.

    You can put on your head phones and listen to music or an audio book, or you can read a book or magazine, or catch up on your favorite podcasts or blog posts. You don't have to spend a lot of money, but you can if you want to. Make the most of the resources you have and grab a semi-sabbatical at a local spa.

  4. Spend the night in a local hotel

    A quick semi-sabbatical is just a few miles away at a local hotel, where you can be close enough to home to get home quickly, yet far enough away to feel truly be gone. I like this option especially for moms of young children.

    Check in to the hotel as early as possible, usually by 3pm, and spend the rest of the day, and the morning of the next day, doing whatever you want. Stay in your room binging out on movies, spend time at the pool, order room service, or whatever you want to do.

    I am a member of a worldwide hotel chain's vacation plan so I have access to their hotels at a hefty discount. There are plenty in my area, but when I really want to get special time away by myself, I head two hours west to Asheville's independent Grand Bohemian Hotel. Find your local favorites and build into your schedule several nights away each year. You won't regret it.

  5. Learn something new

    Use your favorite search engine to find some interesting local classes, talks, or seminars. All local colleges and universities host well known authors, journalists, and other professionals with something unique to share. They are often free or very inexpensive. If you can, get out and learn something that you don't think you have any interest in. Keeping your mind open to new areas of interest inspires curiosity, which is something that all entrepreneurs can benefit from.

I bet you can think of tons of other ways to take a semi-sabbatical, but if you are having any trouble, you can always mark your calendar to join me and dozens of other creative entrepreneurs for the next Indie Cruise in a fabulous, exotic Caribbean destination.


How have you taken semi-sabbaticals to refresh and renew? Feel free to share in the comments below, or share on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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About Donna Maria Coles Johnson

Donna Maria is an author, podcaster, attorney, and the founder and CEO of the Indie Business Network, providing affordable product liability insurance and mentoring. Donna Maria teaches Makers and Creative Entrepreneurs how to use technology and community to build a profitable, sustainable business.