Sabbatical fantasy world

No one here. Mandatory holidays are the norm in the US. Not all jobs have paid vacation but the ones that don’t that I know about are flexible and you can take time off just not at certain times of the year.

Do you know how many jobs are unfilled because people refuse to work when they can sponge off everyone else? I can point to a number of jobs locally that cannot find willing workers that will actually show up. That’s why we have to hire in so many H2A workers. The US folks do not want to work. And to get them in you have to advertise for US based workers and prove that no-one accepted the job. Or worse, what happened to one fruit grower, hired a full slate of US based workers but many never came to the first day of work and most left after the first week. Took a long time to get the out of country workers back in after that debacle. And lest you think it’s low pay those same out of country workers were pulling down $25-30K/yr income. For all of them the employer pays all fees and travel expenses to and from the origin country. For most types of H2A workers the employer has to provide housing. In some cases, like sheep herders, not only do they have to provide housing, but all food and clothing as well.

I disagree most strongly with this. Even hunter gatherer cultures have the concept of alone time to think and reflect. Now the exact form a sabbatical takes will vary based on circumstances. but the concept, a time to stop and reflect, is a basic need for all humans and within the reach of everyone. I liked the multiple sessions, first about what they are in the context of the people talking, how they set it up, and then a good debrief. I’ve taken many of those ideas and adapted them to my own situation. I’m not likely to be in a position to go off somewhere else for quite some time but I can still do an at home sabbatical.

I would argue that for the entrepreneur a sabbatical or a chance to stop and reflect is MORE vital than for a worker bee. I would consider some sort of that reflection a mandatory feature of operating a successful business over time.

OTOH I do think that hardware and software is a big luxury. Just in my own area I know many people without any computer other than a smart phone and many with a limited phone at that. I can think of a number who still use flip phones.

OTOH Farmers of all stripes can often find a way to get a nice bit of reflection time in an among the daily work. Yes you do have to milk cows at least once a day usually twice (depending on your system and how you raise the calves) and a shepherd during lambing is at th beck and call of the needs of birthing ewes and newborn lambs. But right now, other than pumping drinking water into tanks and new hay every couple of days there is very little work to do. Enough so that Ic an actually tackle the problems of my slow computer and have had more time to plan out the next few months than is normal for my equinox reviews.


Not many people can afford a sabbatical, correct? Is that ideal? I don’t think so. I think working in a jobb that is not a career is not optimal, still it is the most normal thing in the world. Why would one say that’s ok?

Culture and technology are supposed to free us from drudgery and make a fulfilling life possible for as many people as possible.

Obviously sacrifice is paramount to achieve. People that can do sabbaticals have sacrificed enough in the past, or they would not have the opportunity.

I think everyone would benefit from a sabbatical and the few who have the opportunity should absolutely do so since it will enhance their contribution to the wider world and make life better for everyone.


Certainly, which is why I said that it is possible to take a “retreat/sabbatical” in the backyard. Or the barn for that matter! :slight_smile: There are always exceptions to any example given.

The larger point that the OP was making is that not everyone is in a position to take multi-day, periodic retreats/sabbaticals *as described in the Focus podcast *on a consistent basis. Assuming that most people can would be a fantasy BUT I don’t believe that was the assumption in the Focus episodes that deal with this issue. :slight_smile:

I think we might be beating this horse to death! :slight_smile:

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In our company agreement we have several sabbatical models. One of my staff used it to travel for 3 months. And I am seriously thinking about one.

That said:

  • low-income jobs don’t have those agreements
  • depends on where you live (work laws). Taking 2 days off (paid) is a non-issue in most of Europe, for every income group. Also work laws for weekends.
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In the United States this is not the normal situation. In fact, most people in United States don’t even take all of the vacation days they are due. In my opinion, that is a sad commentary, not a positive one.


I know. Both my brothers and a cousin live in the US. And it amazes me how different our rights are.

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I think that like all productivity topics, it’s on the listener/reader to decide how much of what has been been presented could work for them. If a full sabbatical is not possible, let’s start at the other end of the scale:

  1. an hour a week focusing on your weekly review is a sabbatical, even if it’s micro.
  2. a couple of hours a month to decide what to work on in the next month.
  3. a day once a quarter to take time away from the daily grind to plan the next 3 months

All of these are possible if you can’t go full bore.


Americans work too much, full stop.


I understand where you are coming from, but OP is also talking about subscribing to Gary Vee’s or Dave Ramsey’s mentality of putting in the work and hustling. So, it seems he not only had a problem with people not getting time for a sabbatical but also the idea of sabbatical itself.

I read OP’s post again to see if I misunderstood him for the first time, but I am still getting the same vibe.

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Sabbatical can be taken in lots of ways. They are not confined to a cabin in the woods. People also take vacations for the same reasons. Whereas I might go a bit stir crazy in a cabin in the woods, this podcaster might find it peaceful and the quiet idyllic.

I’d prefer the beach in Mexico and ergo help out the lower class who depend on the income generated by opulent evil tourists like me. I’m especially a sucker for the little kids selling chicle gum and anything else they might have for sale as they are following me down the street in Acapulco Bay. (I take a roll of quarters or two for them. And crackers for the fish…).

Europeans take most of the summer off last I’ve heard, unlike the measly two weeks people start out with in the USA. But I certainly wouldn’t beget them theirs.

A change in scenery can be invigorating and good for the soul. I’m not sure how such a sabbatical can even impact you or people in a third world country. I must be missing something. It’s absurd!

And it might amaze you to discover that some people love their jobs and have made adjustments, some of them financial, in order to do what they love which is to help people.

Finally as a foil, David just recently has worked hard to raise money for children with cancer! Last I heard it was a substantial amount of money he helped raise with Steven.

Ok. Glass houses…


Been taking in the comments and I have some additional thoughts.

Clearly outside the US the work balance is very different. Maybe you think this is good, maybe you don’t. I don’t think I would like it.

Next, I am not against sabbaticals at all. The topic was interesting. What really put me off was the one guest who is doing a year sabbatical (forget his name) kept on and on like David’s life wouldn’t go on if he didn’t take this magical sabbatical. It felt like he was pushing some kind of religion upon the audience. It seemed so tone def in my opinion to what most american’s are able to do. He acted like it was such a chore to work more than 6 weeks at a time. Fact is the majority of American’s cannot financially afford to take weeks off let along every 7 weeks, including myself. That’s a sad reality and a topic for another day.

Additionally upon further reflection I think perhaps where you come down on this is somewhat tied to your point in life. I’m younger, no kids, no wife, and in full (Gary Vee) business building mode. So if you’re later in life, kids, wife, etc you would probably like the time off much more.

It’s not THAT good. Depends on the country. I have: 5 weeks vacation,13 days public holiday. So, enough free time.

I wasn’t sure, Lars! I met a number of Europeans traveling in Mexico and they related that they got generous vacation time.

Two weeks is really bad though.

I’m a teacher so I had summers off. But then the state of Illinois kept expanding the school year as if the kids are going to learn more that way. They don’t. The little ones especially need time to be kids. Babysitting services! :wink:

Sweltering heat, no air conditioning… optimal conditions for learning.

Where are you from?

I believe you are correct and that is a fair critique.

Katie, I’m curious: what is your “summer off” actually like? Are there things you need to do to maintain your license and/or to prepare for the new academic year?

I’m a college professor, and it drives me crazy when people think I have summers “off.” It’s true that my schedule becomes much more flexible, and I can take things at a slower pace. And I can certainly take some time off during the summer.

But I definitely can’t take the full two months of the year that I’m not on contract. Scholarly work is an expectation of the job, but it really doesn’t happen during the academic year when well over 40 hours a week is consumed by class prep, classroom time, advising, grading, committee work, and the like.

So scholarly projects happen in the summer and during sabbaticals.

That’s not a complaint (I like my job). It’s just the reality. And while situations vary, I think what I’ve described is pretty typical for faculty at teaching-focused liberal arts colleges.

How do things look in the K-12 world?

P.S. I hear you on the year-round school issue. When I lived in Los Angeles, the public schools were year-round, but that was to address an overcrowding problem. Students were divided into three tracks, and there was always one track that was on break.


We don’t all get the summer off. But in the UK by law an employer must provide 20 days paid annual leave (pro rata) and 8 bank holidays.

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I certainly understand this point. I take the sabbatical talk as more of a call to reclaim time for yourself so that you can do things that are important to you. I have been an attorney for 17 years now. A few years back I decided I was going to block off 11a-1p daily on my calendar. No one could schedule time on that calendar for me. I guarded it vehemently (even with my partners, other lawyers, and Courts) and was mostly successful outside of a trial. I work long hours, but I know during this block that I’ve set aside I have time do things I want to do (have a longer lunch with a friend or something leisurely) or need to do for personal reasons (errands to help my Wife). It’s been a game changer for me personally and professionally.

It’s perhaps easy to say that most people don’t have time for a sabbatical, because they don’t get that time off, or don’t want to take it. But, I think the sabbatical talk takes on a new meaning when you view it as a call to reclaim time to do what you feel is important. Just my two cents.


Interesting perspective. We’ll have to agree to disagree but I never felt it was preachy at all. I do however know, from personal experience, that taking at least some time for yourself has benefits that are never understood until you actually try it. And that once you do it if you care abut your friends, listeners and the world in general you really, really, want to convince them all to try it too.

I think you are stuck on the amount of time a “sabbatical” can be. I seriously doubt that you cannot afford to take an hour or 2 a week to do something for your long term future self. That can be a sabbatical if you approach it with the idea of not doing tasks so much as exploring opportunities.

I would agree that your youth and inexperience is leading you to a false conclusion about what and how beneficial a sabbatical is. From the perspective of someone who is probably something over 40 years your senior (I’m guessing here but I bet I’m within engineering accuracy :wink: ) one of the the most important things I could tell you is Slow down a bit and make sure that the goal you are charging for right now is the goal you really want for yourself 50 years in the future. Whether you call it a Sabbatical, a personal retreat, a life planning date, a review or something else you really must, IMO, stop and figure out that you are doing what is both necessary and important for your future you now. Believe me, it’s not at all fun to wake up, so to speak, when you are 15 years down a career path and realize that you are not heading where you want to be and all your work was effectively wasted other than as a place to learn to do hard work. Not totally bad but when I think where I could be now or what I could have done if I had taken time in my 20s-30s to really think about what I felt was important and move that way more quickly it’s a bit discouraging. Learn from the mistakes and regrets of others and approach the concept of a sabbatical with a different eye.

One key point, you said take time off. That is not what this sort of reflection time is about. It’s not time off, it’s some of the hardest and most difficult work you will ever do. It can be uncomfortable, can result in a lot of unpleasant awareness of yourself and can also teach you some amazing good things about yourself, the world and your place in it.


Here’s a good overview:

The amount of time you legally have as “free time” certainly influences the need for a sabbatical.

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I’m retired.

I taught in the Chicago schools and the suburbs as well as gorgeous San Diego.

There are a certain amount of continuing education courses we need to take. I have loads and loads of for credit coursework, of which Illinois cares not a whit.

California evaluated what you already had taken whereas Illinois does not. Different attitude. I prefer the approach in California but I found out that it’s a right-to-work state and that was an unpleasant surprise.

It sort of depends on the individual to answer your question. I always worked twelve hour days during the year but that was intrinsically motivated. Nobody required it. There was a great deal of paperwork that couldn’t be done with a classroom of kids in front of you. Only people who knew me were aware of the long hours I put in.

I also spent a long time in preparation and would actually sit down and rework, rewrite our curriculum. For example, I taught bilingual Spanish (primary). The textbook companies or private reading programs would almost invariably translate the skills from English into Spanish and you just can’t do that as often it made no sense.

In addition to that, I enjoyed and relished the chance to come up with fun, didactic activities. That took a great deal of time and effort plus it is not something you are going to find in any book. I also enjoyed scouring the creative guides I bought at the Teachers Store or online to come up with activities. Conjuring up my own was the most rewarding. The most fun was designing work, activities and games (including my favorite– designing and making board games) and then testing them out on my eager subjects.

But let’s take one summer. The State (notice the capital letter) decided to totally throw out the curriculum ie their objectives etc.

What they conjured up was a nightmare. I took one look at it and thought well I had to do something. It was a mess that was going to wreak havoc. Fortunately I got it somewhat ahead of time because I was working summer school so I got a copy.

So I sat down and spent a considerable amount of time writing a database for the impending nightmare for the remainder of the summer. Ergo I was ready to tackle the omnipresent lesson plans (aka my creative writing) readily. I had drop down menus and everything. It was actually pretty cool. I love databases. You guys understand.:wink:

Teachers were in a panic because, as I said, the curriculum was a mess. They had the kids coming in. There never was time paid to prepare for the kids… that extra time for prep would be wasted on silly meetings.

I was rather surprised when the principal started sending teachers to me to help with their lesson plans. I explained I had a database going and got lots of blank looks. I offered mine to the other teachers in my grade level. More blank looks. (Ok, so how about I do databases for each grade and you reimburse me? In my dreams! LOL!)

Btw, I always needed a week or two to recuperate once school got out in June. (Kids were never the problem). For a primary school teacher, it was sheer physical exhaustion.

(I query people who insist teachers have it made. “Have you ever been in a room with forty two eight year olds, let alone tried to teach them too? LOL!) With people not actually in the classroom banging on your door at the last minute demanding end-of-the-year paperwork frenzy. And I respect any teacher from pre-k through graduate school. (Rodney Dangerfield was talking about teachers when he said “I get no respect!”)

Once there was an asst principal who wanted me to make up time because I had been late. I was appalled. I told her quite frankly the amount of work I put in in preparation etc and, to her credit, she just let it be.

What that have been doing is adding weeks to the school year. We use to go back after Labor Day. The State has done that so enthusiastically that the only free month, last I checked, was July.

Kids need time to be kids. They no longer have true kindergarten out here. I volunteered and they are pushing kids to read. They need time to be kids, to develop their fine and gross motor muscles and even their eyes first. And the so-called experts cannot see it, never have studied Early Childhood, in those instances. If they are ready to read– TERRIFIC but don’t inundate them with so much junk. Reading is fun, interesting. (Convey that to the kids!)

Bottom line in education is test scores, teaching to the test– infuriating and who does it truly impact?

So whereas you need to be publishing, counseling etc, the grade school teachers have their own realm to deal with.

I’m curious: what do you teach?