Reflecting On My Sabbatical

Last week I returned to work at Automattic following a paid three month sabbatical. Yep, you heard that right. Everyone at our company is entitled to take a two to three month period off following their five year anniversary (which I hit at the end of November).

It’s an amazing benefit that I must admit I felt a bit guilty about taking. No one in my life has ever experienced or been offered such an opportunity.

At first I felt a bit lost about how to use the time. I’d arranged it to be at the holidays so sure, I had plenty of things on my to do list to keep me busy. But I felt like I should use the time to give back to others in some way because I was so fortunate to have the time. While I did find ways to help others where I could, I never ended up doing substantial volunteering like I thought I might. The time passed quickly due to the holidays, my son staying home sick a few times, work on our house we had planned, and a few small trips.

While I felt guilty about this at first, I realized I accomplished something far more needed at the time.

I put myself first for once.

I slowed down. I rested. I focused on doing what I wanted to do, not what I thought I should do. Each week I made a list of things I wanted to take care of, but every morning I woke up and decided what I felt up to doing. As a friend, wife, mom, team lead, I had lost my ability to do such a thing leading up to my time off. I was constantly helping others, but I wasn’t helping and honoring myself or my own needs.

To be frank, I was completely burnt out when I started my sabbatical (wow that is hard to write..).

As I start back at work, in a new role at Automattic on our Support Operations team, I’ve been thinking a lot about what I’ll do differently moving forward following my sabbatical. I think it comes down to three main things:

  1. Slow down, you don’t have to work at 110% constantly (especially since my 110% seems to be like 150% for other people 😬).
  2. Exercise, even if it’s just a walk! Make time to move your body and take care of yourself.
  3. Draw and keep boundaries between work and home. While I love what we do at Automattic, there is an amazing world around me and I need to cherish and enjoy it more. I can’t do that if I’m exhausted and burnt out.

So remember, oxygen masks first everyone! Then help those around you. Or, think of Donna and:

P.S. Thank you to my company, Automattic, for allowing this time to take care of myself and recharge my batteries 🙂❤️ The care you put into taking care of your employees never ceases to amaze me.

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