Should You Dare to Think About a Sabbatical?

About a week ago, Gail and I returned from a 30-day sabbatical. It was one of the best things we have ever done. We spent sixteen days in the mountains of Buena Vista, Colorado, several more days in Portland, and the rest of the time at our home outside of Nashville, Tennessee.

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In April, I stepped down from my position as CEO of Thomas Nelson. (Though I am no longer in active management, I remain the Chairman of the Board.) I felt God calling me into a new chapter, and I wanted to take time to fully explore what it was going to look like.

The time away was just what the doctor ordered. It was tremendously meaningful. So much so, that Gail and I are planning to spend one month a year doing this. I realize that we are in a unique position. (It takes a certain amount of vocational freedom and financial resources.) However, I regret that it took me more than 30 years to take my first one.

I really think we could have done this long before now if we had just been intentional. I would strongly encourage you to think about building this into your plans. Don’t be too quick to dismiss the idea. Maybe you can’t do it this year, but you might be able to do it next year, or in two years, if you plan ahead.

It doesn’t have to be expensive. The biggest challenge is probably working with your employer. But, amazingly, in more than thirty years of corporate management, I never had a single employee even ask me to take a sabbatical.

If he or she had pitched me the idea and explained how I, as an employer, would have benefited, I definitely would have entertained it. So before you rule it out, maybe you should give it some more thought and ask, “What would it take to make this possible?”

Here are at least five benefits of taking a sabbatical. It will give you the opportunity to:

  1. Recharge physically and emotionally. This is more important than you think. We were made to surge, then rest. It is so important, that it is hard-wired into our biology. This is why we sleep. It is also why God built it into the structure of each week (i.e., six days of work; one day of rest). God even instructed the Israelites to take an entire year off every seven years. We can’t just go, go, go, and expect to function optimally.
  2. Slow down and enjoy being. God made us human beings, not human doings. You would never know it, looking at modern man. So much of our life is defined by our activities. On our sabbatical, Gail and I loved the opportunity to read, reflect, go for long hikes in the mountains, fish, and just sit and do nothing. In fact, we gave ourselves permission not to be productive. It was difficult at first, but eventually we settled into a new rhythm.
  3. Reconnect with God. Everything in contemporary culture conspires against the pursuit of the only One who gives meaning to everything else. We can spend our days, lost in the endless flow of distractions and amusements. Over time, our heart becomes slowly buried, disconnected from God and any sense of True North. It was so healthy for us both to read the Bible and other spiritual literature, and spend time in extended prayer.
  4. Gain clarity on my priorities and goals. I used part of my time away to re-tool my life plan, design a new ideal week, and plan out the next three years. This gave the opportunity to make sure that I was making time for what matters most. In this next season of my life, I am committed to writing, speaking, and mentoring. Those are my three vocational priorities. By actually making them part of my plan—and my calendar—I have a much better chance of staying focused. It also gives me a filter by which to say no to other opportunities that come my way.
  5. To secure alignment with your spouse. As the prophet Amos asks, “How can two walk together unless they are in agreement?” (see Amos 3:3). The older I get, the more important this is. Although I believe my wife and I can have a positive impact on our own, I also believe in the power of synergy. Together, we have the potential for our combined efforts to be greater than the sum of our individual ones. This is why it is so important for us to be in alignment.

There are definitely some things we will do differently next time. Taking a sabbatical is probably like any other activity or skill: you can get better at it over time. But at least we have started. I can’t wait until we do this again next year.

Question: What would a sabbatical make possible for you? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • Joey Espinosa

    A 30-day Sabbatical would be great! So glad you could do that.

    A couple of years ago, my wife and I were on a week-long pastor’s retreat in Wisconsin. It wasn’t a conference or a seminar. There were 6 couples there. The only required “meeting” was a lunch-time discussion.

    What I loved most was having 2 hours each morning (I’m a natural early bird, plus the time change helped me get up early) of total quiet in the house. I could read, pray, journal without any distraction.

  • David Santistevan

    Sounds fantastic. Would you recommend a sabbatical once a year? I’m only 26 and deep down I feel like, “David, you haven’t been working that long. You don’t need a sabbatical.” But maybe that’s a wrong perspective. You shouldn’t have to wait till you burned out and buried before you take a break. Thanks for the encouragement.

    • Michael Hyatt

      If you can afford it, yes. I definitely agree that you shouldn’t wait until you are burned out.

      I think it is also important to distinguish between a vacation and a sabbatical. What do you think the difference is?

      • Chris Cornwell

        I think the difference is attitude. A vacation in the 21st century is mostly typical: “we to whatever resort, we refuse to cook our own meals, we blow money because we can, we come home.” But the attitude of a Sabbatical is very different. You reserve yourself to focus on what is important. You are far from carefree, like a vacation, because you are intentional on being focused on God, Family, yourself, etc.

        • Michael Hyatt

          Excellent distinction. I agree.

        • David Santistevan

          I agree as well. Though I think vacation and sabbaticals should both have goals, a sabbatical is more intentional. Since I’ve never taken a sabbatical, I’ve approached vacations as a mini sabbatical. I actually wrote about it here:

          I guess you could say a vacation is to relax and refuel. A sabbatical is to reconnect with your purpose. Thinking out loud :)

          • Robert Ewoldt

            I enjoyed your post, David.

          • David Santistevan

            Thanks so much Robert

          • Steven Cribbs

            I think that a lot of times many people think of the vacation as relaxing and refueling (or, time away from the normal grind to be re-energized); but, implement it as GO and DO.  Go many different places to Do as much as you can.

            I am thinking about taking my family on a vacation in the next couple of years to Disney World.  It will be fun, energizing and full of memory making.  Then, we will need a vacation to recover from the vacation :-)

            I enjoyed your post and I like your perspective on the sabbatical – to reconnect with your purpose.

          • David Santistevan

            Thanks Steven. Hopefully your Disney vacation can be relaxing too :)

          • Jeff Randleman

            Agreed.  Going and doing describes all of my vacations.  Being and resting in God are more descriptive of a sabbatical.

        • Theresa Ip Froehlich

          Chris, your comment is well-said. We tend to think of vacation and sabbaticals as throwing everything out the window and just veg out. In fact, vacations and sabbaticals can be, and perhaps should be, one of the most purposeful endeavors in our lives.

          Coach Theresa

          • Chris Cornwell

            Thanks Theresa.

        • Steven Cribbs

          Great thoughts.  I appreciate the perspective on a sabbatical as being intentional about focusing on some specific core things.

          • Chris Cornwell

            Thanks Steven.

          • Jeff Randleman


        • Jmhardy97

          I agree also. Vacation for fun. Sabbatical for growth and reflection.

        • Jeff Randleman

          I agree.  I think a sabbatical is for refreshing and renewing.  A vacation is for relaxing and recreating.  That’s a lot of “re”s…

    • Jason Fountain

      Good point. When I think of “sabbaticals” I think of a preacher after 20 years needing to get away and recharge. I guess it goes back to living an intentional life. Taking a sabbatical to think and renew is a choice.

      • David Santistevan

        That’s a great perspective on intentionality. So true.

  • Leah Adams

    Interesting that you would post this. I made a decision to take a teaching sabbatical about 2 months ago. I have taught a ladies Sunday school class for almost 10 years, while my husband has gone to a couples class alone. He never complained. In the past few months, however, I have felt a desire to be in Sunday school with him. So, I made the decision, after much prayer, to take a teaching sabbatical and go to his class with him for 5-6 months. I made arrangements for the class to have teachers and talked to our senior pastor, who knows me too well. He paused for a moment after I told him what I wanted to do, then looked at me and said, “I think that will be fine….as long as you don’t go into a class where you intimidate the teacher.” Bahahahaha.

    Yesterday was my first Sunday in class with my husband and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I know that God has ordained this teaching sabbatical and that He has things to teach me through it.

    Next move…a sabbatical such as you describe to recharge my physical, emotion, spiritual self and to plan for ministry. Thank you for your timely post.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Good for you, Leah. That is a great first step. I hope you can indeed plan a full sabbatical.

  • Chris Cornwell

    My wife and I recently took an extended-weekend “stay-cation.” We were off from both our full-jobs and our positions at church. We disconnected electronically for 3 of the 5 days we were off. So needed and beneficial. Just as you said Michael, there are many benefits to doing this and I think this blog post is confirmation to us that we need to continue to pursue the Sabbatical. We might not be ready for 30 days, but hey, it’s a start!

    • Michael Hyatt

      Yep, 30 days is a long time. I say, do what you can. Something is better than nothing.

    • Jmhardy97

      I take a break once a quarter. Not a month per say, but a nice break non the less.

      • Jeff Randleman

        I try to take “Personal Retreat Days” once a month, or a few days every other month.

    • Jeff Randleman

      I think disconnecting is a crucial part of this whole idea.  It’s too easy to be distracted in our lives as it is.

  • Kbattle

    Thank you for this Michael because unfortunately some of us may end up on a forced, medical sabbatical if we don’t take intentional times of rest and renewal.

    • Michael Hyatt

      That is an excellent point! It’s kind of like the old adage, “pay me now or pay me later.”

  • John Lane

    I love Buena Vista! My parents live there and my wife and I go back there every Christmas. Whenever we go, as soon as we start to see the mountains we instantly start to relax!

    • Michael Hyatt

      This was our second time to be there. It had the same effect on us. We love the town itself, too.

    • Jeff Randleman

      Rafted the Arkansas with Noah’s Ark Rafting from there several times.  We go camping at Como, just 30 mins from there quite often with our youth group!

  • Robert Ewoldt

    Michael, this is such a great idea!  I think a vacation can accomplish SOME of these things (like #1), but there definitely needs to be something more to achieve all of them.

    My wife and I have made it a point to go away with each other each year to do #5… be together, and re-align.

  • Eric S. Mueller

    It’s often good to step out of the way to retool and refocus. I’ve never been in a position for a 30 day Sabbatical. Last year I was laid off on a Thursday. My wife suggested we go out of town for the weekend while I considered what to do next. It was a great idea. I think I came back stronger than if I’d simply spent the weekend working on my resume and reading job postings on Monster.

    • Michael Hyatt

      That was indeed a good idea. I have recommended this very thing to several friends who have lost their jobs.

      • B_Schebs

        When My wife lost her job in Jan for 2010.  We did the same thing.  We went and spent some time away to align and look at both of our futures as we both worked for the same company.  It was amazing the focus we had after returning from just a few days.

  • Catharina Pinheiro

    In our days, to slow down and just smell the flowers sometimes is vital to staying sane. Unfortunately, I won’t be doing that for quiet a time! : ) But I’ll take your advice as soon as possible. Thanx!

  • John Richardson

    I think a sabbatical would be a great place to read, write, plan, and spend time together with my wife. It is different from a vacation though. I just got back from a two week driving vacation, which featured lots of driving, and the stress of staying different places each night. It was fun but it was not refreshing. In some ways it had more stress than working (driving in Portland comes to mind :-) ). A true sabbatical would need solitude, and someone to take care of things at home, so that I could really let things go, knowing that there was someone watching over my affairs. This is the part that would be hard to accomplish.

    It’s great to hear about your experience, Michael, and that Gail survived 30 days with you. It seems that being around another person 24 hours a day would be an adjustment in itself. When I saw you both in Portland at the Storyline conference, you both seemed rested and relaxed. 

    I think the secret is to have solitude. My wife and I have a timeshare on the beach in Ventura,  where the cell phones don’t work and you can truly leave the world behind. It’s our mini sabbatical each year. Its amazing what a walk on a deserted beach in the morning can do for a person’s soul.

    • Michael Hyatt

      I think you hit the nail on the head, John. The typical vacation has its own stress. I usually can’t wait to get back to work! The sabbatical is definitely different.

      • Jeff Randleman

        Agreed!  I usually need a vacation just to recover from my vacations!

    • David Santistevan

      Very good point, John. The spouse dynamic is interesting – what’s energizing for one could be totally draining for the other. I prefer to relax, read, write, and chill. My wife likes to explore and be busy :) We both need to compromise and choose to enjoy the other’s preference.

      • John Richardson

        While I’ve never taken a full sabbatical, I find that a week on vacation with my wife usually works well, while two weeks can be a challenge. A full 30 days would be an interesting experiment.

        • Robert Ewoldt

          If I were to take a 30-day sabbatical, I think I would find it hard to
          concentrate on the sabbatical, rather than on the things I was leaving

    • Jason Fountain

      John, I always enjoy your perspectives. It would have to be a growing experience to spend several days in isolation with your spouse.

  • B_Schebs

    My Wife and I are thinking about doing this, in a round about way.  We are looking at taking a “boat Relocation Cruise.”  14-days Trans-atlanic cruise when a company moves the boat from the Mediteranean to the Caribean.  It comes with minimal ports of call(5 I believe) and a smaller than normal crew and guest list.  We are going to use this time to spend together, away from the daily grind, to read, write and grow, both together and as individuals.  I can’t wait. looks like September of 2012 is when we will go, and we are already starting a reading list to dive into together.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Now that sounds great! I really enjoyed our cruise this spring, and we almost did another one for our sabbatical.

    • Jeff Randleman

      Great idea!  I just may have to look into this!

  • Susan Reichert

    What a wonderful idea. To be able to have the time to relax totally, center your thoughts, and reposition priorities. Most important to be able to have the time to appreciate all the beautiful scenery God has provided for us and to spend time centering myself with God, my spouse and myself.

  • Matt Kormann

    Several years ago, my wife and I decided a week wasn’t enough and extended our usual weeklong vacation to two weeks each July. In the last few years, we’ve added a shorter trip in the spring. The ability to disconnect and recharge within what can still be considered a “vacation” rather than a “sabbatical” or “some time away” has been critically important. We get into vacation mode faster and enjoy the downtime more.

    Whether we can afford it or not was quickly answered when we realized we couldn’t afford not to take the extra time.

    In a time when a majority of employees aren’t taking all of their available vacation, thereby costing themselves and their employers untold amounts in productivity, something’s got to give.

    • Michael Hyatt

      I totally agree. I think that if I would have discovered the benefits of this earlier, I would have been more creative and more productive. Now I see it as an essential.

    • Jeff Randleman

      Agreed.  In a similar vein, I attend CIY Wilderness, a sabbatical style retreat for youth leaders every year in Colorado Springs, up in the mountains.  Thankfully, my church pays for me to go, but even if they didn’t, my wife and I feel that we can’t afford for me not to go to this each year.  In fact, my wife asked me just the other day if it was about time for it to happen.  Guess I need it more than I think…

      • Michael Hyatt

        That sounds great. Colorado is one of our favorite spots.

        • Jeff Randleman

          Ours too!

  • Stephen W. Smith

    A season of literal “ceasing” leads to a trajectory change in life. We highly recommend it!

    Thank you for this. Potter’s Inn offers a “soul care intensive” ideal for a part of a person’s sabbatical. It’s a 5 day, private retreat that is a 360 walk around your heart and soul. No notebook. You are the agenda.


    Stephen W. Smith
    Potter’s Inn

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for letting us know about this. Don Miller says that “where you do what you do is important.” That certainly applies to a sabbatical.

    • Robert Ewoldt

      Stephen, the Potter’s Inn retreats look amazing!

      • TNeal

        I agree. Reading the name Potter’s Inn intrigued me. You’re ministry of hospitality and soul care, based on your website, looks very inviting.

    • Jeff Randleman

      This looks great!  I will be in COS in September, and would be interested in looking over your facility and seeing if it would be a fit for my family and I in the future.

  • Stephen K

    Thanks Michael. I have been thinking about a sabbatical in the summer of 2013. You have caused me to get it firmly in my diary and plan ahead for it. 

    • Michael Hyatt


  • Connie Brown

    Mini Sabbaticals are good practice and affordable. I’ve been taught God intended us to experience mini Sabbaticals each week because we need time to disconnect and reflect. And regular weekly practice hones our ability to maximize other, longer Sabbatical times.

    We need time to disengage from the busyness of living so we can gain clarity and perspective.

  • Raymond Schwedhelm

    So much of what the world offers is “vampire energy.” It saps our strength and takes us into a valley of despair. Jesus offers us His life. As Lord, we labor and rest in Him for He is our Sabbath. Yet, there are times we need to be alone with Him and Our Father in Heaven. 

    Through understanding of His Word by His Spirit we grow and gain new insights into Our Father’s plan and purpose of our lives. Those retreats are blessed mountain top moments for we see who we really are.

    • TNeal

      Your comment reminds me of Jesus’ habit of often retiring to the mountains alone. So we do have a pretty good example of the practice of retreat/sabbath.

  • Anne Rogers

    I am taking a sabbatical next year. My biggest challenge right now is planning what to do with the time. It is precious and valuable time and I do not want to waste it.  Either by not doing enough or by doing too much.

    • TNeal

      Ah, therein is the challenge–the balance between doing and being. From what others have said, I’d work on the being aspect initially. I know from traveling and working overseas that the first few weeks simply get a person acclimated to a new culture. Sabbath in a way introduces us to a different culture, one that can be just as challenging to adjust to as an Asian (or any other) culture.

      • Michael Hyatt

        Yes, I think it takes a while to acclimate to not-doing. This is why it needs to be longer than a week.

      • Jeff Randleman

        I agree.  Being needs to form the basis for doing.  We can’t do effectively until we be who we are created to be, in Christ.  Focus there initially.

  • Angela Thomas

    Hi Mike,

    I have loved following you and Gail on Sabbatical. I am finally making a turn toward one for myself after years of non-stop. I too am looking forward to stopping, praying and seeking before I accept new commitments. The idea of one month every year sounds like sanity to me. My soul said, “Yes, I have to do that.” One of my top priorities for this extended Shabbat will be working through your life plan. Intentional is such a powerful word to me and I long for it to characterize my life.

    Thank you so much for passing your notes back. I count it an honor to learn from you.


    • Michael Hyatt

      Awesome, Angela. I applaud you for your intention to do it.

      • Jmhardy97

        Did you have an agenda for your break or did you just let life take you away?

        • Michael Hyatt

          Our agenda was two-fold: rest and hear from God. That’s it.

          • Jeff Randleman

            What more do you really need?

    • TNeal

      Angela–Your emphasis on “intentional is such a powerful word” is spot on. You verbalize an important but often lacking aspect in my life. Thanks for the call to return to living an intentional life.–Tom

  • Bret Mavrich

    Mike, this made me think of Jesus’ outrageous statement (John 5) to  the Pharisees when they accused him of violating the Sabbath: “My Father never stops working.”  Our western culture presses us to work incessantly, but in a wrong spirit. Probably doing something as deliberately counter-cultural as taking a Sabbatical is the only way to work like God works. 

    • Michael Hyatt

      Yes, this is definitely a counter-cultural idea.

  • Joe Lalonde

    Michael, I’ve never really thought about sabbaticals and the taking of one.

    After your post, I can see the value in going on one. I could see it strengthening my marriage. My wife and I have been on very different work schedules for quite a few years. I get home at 5, she gets home at 9. That leaves very little time for us to spend and grow together.

    I can also see it helping me reconnect with God. It’s a struggle to find time to spend in the word and grow in this area of my life. Thirty days to spend focusing on getting in the word, prayer, and enjoying God could do quite a bit in my life.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Do it, Joe. You’ll be glad you did. It is so worth it.

      • Joe Lalonde

        Thanks for the encouragement. I’ll talk with my wife and see if it’s something we can plan for next year.

        • Jeff Randleman

          Maybe plan a bit smaller, more frequently as well.  Overcome that difference in your work schedules somehow.  Your marriage will benefit from the effort!

  • Gtdarnell

    I really some direction right now. I just recently retired from a 30 year high school teaching career. The school did very little to help me financially or spiritually. It was a Christian school. I will probably be able to live on Social Security and Medicare,but I want to do something. I need a new purpose to get up and join each day. I know God still has a plan for me and my wife. I look forward to your tweets and post. 

  • Chris Wesley

    Great article, something I have been thinking about considering I’ve been at my position for 7 years and as you mentioned God told the Israelites to rest an entire year after 7 years of work.  As a youth minister the challenge for me would be making sure the ministry runs on it’s own in my absence, I feel like I would have to work harder before the sabbatical to make that happen…but then again maybe I’m just not at that point.

    • Michael Hyatt

      I think that was the point of the Sabbath. God was essentially saying, “Do you trust me to provide for you, even when you are not working?”

  • Ingmar

    Great post, Michael. Thank you. It confirms me a little bit in the plans I have for me and my family – we are actually thinking about taking the seventh year completely off. When we think about that we are constantly drawn between fearing to death and saying: Yes, thats it!
    We see it as a chance to experience a special year with our kids that will be unforgettable the rest of our lifes. To align as family and share some deep expriences together. To align with God as a family.
    We’ll see if we will be brave enough in the end. The plan is to go to Canada (we’re from Germany), buy a mobile home and go all the way up to Alaska. Having enough time just to think, see, mearvel, pray,… make a movie and tell the folks back home about our awesome God and his great plans concerning rest.

    • Michael Hyatt

      If you do this, keep us posted. I think it would be incredible!

  • W. Mark Thompson

    What stood out for me in this post was being intentional. I always think of being intentional as a way to get more done, be more productive, do more, save more, etc. Great eye-opener to “be intentional” for stopping, stepping back, and soaking up life.

    Going to be intentional, develop a plan, talk about it with my wife, and work toward that goal. Great idea! Thanks for the points. I know we need to recharge, slow down, & reconnect! 

    By the way, beautiful picture!

    • Dylan Dodson

      I agree, being intentional can mean so much more than we think it does.

  • Gail B. Hyatt

    I always thought sabbaticals were for pastors or college professors. I don’t know why, I guess those are the only people I knew who took sabbaticals. You and I took vacations, but as we found out there is a difference between a vacation and a sabbatical. The focus of a sabbatical seems to be more on rest and reflection than on getting away from work and a doing things and going places you can’t while working. And let’s be honest, most times you come home from a vacation needing a vacation from the vacation.

    To those of you who think you’ll never be able to take time off like this, let me ask you, “What if it WERE possible? What if there was a way for it to happen? What would the steps look like to make it a reality?”
    Like most things in life that you want more of, they won’t happen unless you’re intentional. You might as well shoot for the moon. You’re bound to at least get off the ground. And that’s a great start.

    I loved my sabbatical time with you, Michael Hyatt. It was a time when I gained a better understanding of myself,  grew closer to God and closer to you. I’m excited to head into the next third of my life along side of you. I love you!!

    • Robert Ewoldt

      I know the feeling about needing a vacation from the vacation, Gail! My
      wife and I took three kids under 4 years old on a cross-country “vacation”
      to visit family, and we were almost more exhausted when we got home than we
      were when we left :)

      • Gail B. Hyatt

        Yep. Sounds SO familiar.

        • Raymond Schwedhelm

          Living near Disney World I see many Moms and Dads hot and tired. Waiting in long times under an intense sun, trying to get in as much as they can, a vacation can be tiring.  

          Tempers can flare. The Magic Kingdom can literally wear you out unless you pace yourself. The same is true with the world’s influence in our daily life. Lead is a poor substitute for gold.

          There exists within us a longing desire to be with Him in His creation. To view the heavens, walk in the surf, smell the roses, stand on the mountain tops… to come alive in Him. His Word speaks to us. In those moments, our spirits soar and we are refreshed.

          • B_Schebs

            @google-6d4f3547261e62d8676efe3577f92c0e:disqus I just returned from 6 days in WDW, and I saw so many families like you described.  My Wife and I had a chuckle at one point then a mom grab her kid, scolded them to stand still,  Then said “smile for the picture and look happy.”  Creating a fake moment for the camera.  I have about 6 posts in the works for my blog on observations from my trip.

          • Raymond Schwedhelm

            Thank you for sharing. That is so true in corporate life as well. As I view annual reports with positive expressions and happy faces, I know many of those smiles lack sincerity of heart. The same outward mask exists in every aspect of life: the smiling celebrity, the grinning politician, et. al. The world desires conformity with its pattern. It can enslave. It can kill. It seeks to separate us and others from His love. The daily news reports on the world’s influence: heartbreak, pain and death. We very much need sabbaticals. The Sabbath was made for man. We need time away with Our Creator to rest in Him and take inventory on where we are depositing our treasure.

    • TNeal

      Gail–thanks for your perspective on this. Your voice is one I want to share with Ellen and your questions prompt deeper thinking on the matter of a sabbatical or, for us, at least an intentional mini-retreat. What would it look like? Where would we go? Those are better questions than: could we do this? Let’s assume “yes” to that question and move forward.–Tom

    • John Richardson

      Great to hear your perspective on the sabbatical, Gail. I’ll make sure my wife reads this!

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thank you, sweetheart. I am even more excited about our future after spending 30 days with you. We have the rest of our lives!

    • Jeff Randleman

      Thanks for the additional perspective, Gail.  We hear so much from your husband; it’s nice to hear your thoughts on these subjects as well.

  • TNeal

    As I read your last point, “to secure alignment with spouse,” I recognize that Ellen and I are on the same page for the most part but we could bring greater clarity to our future (especially mine). We’ve changed roles in the last five years (from going where my job as pastor took us to staying where her job as children’s librarian keeps us).

    So what did you and Gail do together to secure alignment? Did you process ideas and future plans through a particular set of questions? Did you have something in hand that aided the process and directed the conversation?

    • Robert Ewoldt

      This would be helpful to know. My wife and I try to get away for a few days
      each year, but we spend most of the time just being together, not
      necessarily “realigning” to each other. It would be interesting to hear
      what you and Gail did to align.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Mostly, we just talked. And talked. And talked some more. We dreamed, schemed, and let our imaginations run wild. It was awesome.

      • TNeal

        Sounds a lot like our first year of marriage and those late night chats in bed. It’s still wonderful after all these years but not nearly often enough. Spontaneity worked when we were young. Now being intentional (sounds like something that should be addressed in a website) about those conversations needs to be a priority. Thanks for the example and the reminder.

  • Maureenrank

    I “happened upon” a two-month sabbatical last fall when I moved to Budapest to help a young daughter-in-law adjust to living in a European city.  My daughter suggested the sabbatical label as I packed for the trip, but I scoffed a little. I’m Dutch, after all, and we don’t really do sabbaticals…vacations are a push for us!  Besides, I wasn’t going to sit on a beach all day.  
    But the complete change of venue, change of pace and change of expectations generated new possibilities inside me that could have never happened without this time away from life as I had designed it.  
    I felt a little like you, Michael, wondering why it had taken so long to stumble into this.  It may have been a first, but it won’t be a last.  
    Thank you for such a useful challenge!

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for affirming his direction. Our society doesn’t do much to affirm rest. It’s almost seen as a weakness. I think it can be the very thing we need to really be productive and useful.

  • levittmike

    Sabbaticals are absolutely crucial.  We often burn our candles at 3 ends (top, bottom, middle), and burnout will happen.  

    I’m in-between jobs (aka unemployed), but I’m treating this time as a mini-sabbatical, taking in rest and spending time with my bride and family.

    When I return to work, I will be refreshed, and able to have clarity to take on the next task.

    The associate pastor and pastor of care at my church just began a 3-month Sabbatical last week.  They have been going and going, so (thankfully) our church leadership has granted the time away for them. 

    There’s a time for work and a time for rest.  Don’t neglect either of them.

  • Dan Ward

    Sounds like a great idea. Unfortunately, finding the time for such an endeavor is virtually impossible.
    That is the one thing I like about our counterparts overseas. My Norwegian friends get 5 weeks off a year and have to take 3 of those at one time.

    • B_Schebs

      Now that is an idea Corporate America should get behind.

    • Michael Hyatt

      I woud encourage you to live in the possibility of this a little more before you close the door. Ask, “What would it take to make this possible?” I think we deny ourselves so many good things in life, because we say “no” for others rather than asking the question.

  • Gina Burgess

    I am in the middle of a God-designed two-year sabbatical. He has given me the opportunity to follow through with the things He has given me to do. I just must remember to ask Him to manage my time everyday, otherwise I get bogged down in incidentals. It is an amazing thing what sabbaticals can do for a person and her relationship with the Lord God Almighty.

  • Dave Pettengill

    I really loved your distinction between a vacation and a sabbatical.  This is something I know I need to prepare for otherwise it will not happen.  The chances of me accidently stumbling upon a sabbatical is slim to none.  I think it would be a challenge for myself even for a week to have that time to be ok with not being “productive” in a work sense.  So many times vacations are go-go-go from one place to another when honestly it would be great to be able to sit in silence, read, reflect, and rest.  Thank you for sharing. 

  • Beck Gambill

    Interestingly my husband and I are on a forced sabbatical of sorts. We recently stepped out in faith from our previous ministry and are waiting for God to lead us into our next place of work. For the time being we are staying with friends and living off of savings. A little risky and scary, but in a lot of ways good. I’ve taken the time to have extended quiet times in the morning, listening to God’s voice and direction. God has made it clear to me that this next phase of the journey is a time for me to respond to his call to use the written word to express truth and glorify him. I’m learning and growing in this area constantly. Writing wasn’t something I could fully engage in in our previous, busy, life of ministry. I’m also thankful to enjoy a slower pace of life with my family. One day, and I hope soon, our life will be given to full time ministry again. In the meantime I’m thankful for this gift of sabbatical.

  • Connie Brown

    I’ve never taken a long sabbatical. Only one- or two-day-long “mental health” times to seek guidance or perspective. Taking a sabbatical for 30 days sounds too expensive for most people I know.
    Sounds wonderful, though. Thanks for modeling this.

    • Michael Hyatt

      You would be shocked at how inexpensively you can do it—with a little creativity. We spent less on our sabbatical than we would have spent at home. It doesn’t have to be expensive.

  • Cynthia Herron

    “Intentional.” Love that word! And I like your take on sabbaticals. I never really considered the difference between that and “vacation.”

  • Pat Alexander

    Mike, While all of your points today are important we have learned that #5 may be the most important. We have each been very independent business people throughout our lives. In the last few years we have several instances where one or the other has required a surgery that took several weeks to months of recovery and rehab. These times of making decisions for each other and with each other and being the caretaker for the other and yourself are some of the most challenging times of your life. We have been told more than once that we could not do something or that it was not in our best interest, such as not having a surgery in the city in which we were vacationing but returning home. But as a team fully supporting each other we were able to accomplish what we thought was best for us. . 

    Thanks for your great post.

  • Tod shuttleworth

    Mike – I could not agree more with your post. After I was done building a substantial business in Brazil, my employer (RR Donnelley) gave me about 45 days to just “take some time”. I had spent six years working very hard to build a substantial business in Latin America. The company wanted to give me time to “figure out” what I wanted to do next. They had a lot of options for me, including moving to China to do the same thing I did in Brazil. The 45 day sabbatical was an amazing experience. I reconnected with with God and my family; two important relationships that tend to weaken when you are working long days including weekends for many years.  And, I lost about 20 pounds. I agree it’s hard to do, but if you can it will reset your thinking and your life. 

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Tod. So many people say “no” for their employer. I still maintain that there is a business case for company’s doing this. In other words, it is in their best interest. Our job, as employees, is to convince them.

  • Jason Fountain

    Great post as usual. I have a blog topic for you. I would enjoy reading your thoughts on a 3-day sabbatical. The ordinary person would have a very difficult time planning a 30-day sabbatical. But, what would a 3-day sabbatical look like? I think this would be a great start for many of us who have never experienced a sabbatical. Thoughts?

    I actually wrote today on rejuvenation ( This is an important topic that we all need to be intentional about.

    • TNeal

      Thanks, Jason, for sharing the link. It was worth the short cyberspace ride. Good article.–Tom

      • B_Schebs

        @TNeal:disqus I have found @jasonfountain:disqus ‘s blog to be one I read Daily right along with @mhyatt:disqus ‘s .  A lot of great thinking points come from both.

        • TNeal

          I appreciate your endorsement of Jason’s blog. It lends support and encouragement to move from a passing interest to a subscribed fan.

    • Steven Cribbs

      I enjoyed your post.  Good thoughts on personal renewal and steps to do something about it.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Jason, personally, I don’t see a three-day sabbatical. I think the extended time is necessary to de-tox from our addiction to busyness, activity, and productivity.

  • Rob T

    sounds nice right now…many people don’t really have a sabbatical option, though.  just a vacation, which i would say is pretty different.  i think we need to weave true sabbaticals into our weekly rhythm.

  • Mike

    Forgive me Michael for what I’m going to say for I mean no disrespect.  You’re talking sabbaticals, but many of us can’t take vacations.  And in this economic climate, asking for a sabbatical would raise many eyebrows.  There is a reason, which I don’t think I need to utter, as to why you’ve never had an employee ask for a sabbatical.  The only people I know who have the luxury to be able to take sabbaticals are academics, religious leaders and those who are financially self-sufficient. 

    • Dylan Dodson

      I think more often not people don’t ask for sabbaticals simply because they don’t take the time to come up with a good plan to make a sabbatical happen. I also people think don’t understand how helpful they are.

      Many academics and religious leaders aren’t “financially self-sufficient,” yet they make it work, so I think many of us could as well.

      • Michael Hyatt

        I like your thinking, Dylan. You are right!

    • Michael Hyatt

      No problem. I think that people commonly think this. But I really do think the problem is in the thinking. Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right. Ask, “What would have to happen for this to be possible?” Before you dismiss it, give your creativity a chance.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you so much for posting this. Sending it to a friend today. We have been discussing and praying about her taking some time off to recharge herself both emotionally and physically. I believe this post is just what God and the doctor ordered.

  • Anonymous

    I wish I had the opportuinty for a big sabbatical like this one, but I always try and work in a non-vacation 2 or 3 day sabbatical a year where I can spend time working on long range planning, goal setting and getting closer to God.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for sharing this with us Michael.  In May, I went back to work for someone else after 13 months of working on my own business.

    In that time, it was a real blessing to get to experience the things that I did and learn more about myself.  Now, coming back off a convention this last weekend, I am recharged and ready to go fix the things that are broken, get better and learn more.

    This break taught a lot about me and how I needed to change so now it is back to work on making those changes for the better me (Ron 2.0)

  • Chad M. Smith

    Thirty days doesn’t really seem like a sabbatical. It’s more like an extended vacation. The pastors and professors I have heard taking sabbaticals were 4-9 months long. What is the difference in your mind? I would think thirty days would be realistic for a lot of people.

    • Michael Hyatt

      The difference is intention. My goals for a sabbatical were rest, reconnection, and renewal. We didn’t go-go-go, like so many people do on their vacation and come home worn out.

      • Chad M. Smith

        Yes, I understand. That’s good: rest, reconnection, and renewal.

  • Jennifer Emerick

    The answer to your title question is YES!  Just over a year ago, I knew I was being called to break away from my professional life.  I had been a teacher for 10 years and extremely dedicated to my job.  During that time, I had gotten married and had my first child.  Teaching is great, because you do get some time off every year – but not as much as people think.  I knew that I needed more than just a few weeks of summer to combat what was happening in my life.  I was losing the balance that I, and my family, most desperately craved.  I wasn’t healing some of the heartache that had occurred in the last few years, I was just drowning it in my work.  Luckily, I slowed down enough to hear God’s call.

    Long story short (?), I took a leave of absence for this past school year.  Our budget got tighter, indeed, but every bit of my year off has turned into a blessing.  I was able to spend a lot of devoted time with my daughter, forming a new kind of relationship, and transitioning her to her first year of school.  I was able to work on my marriage partnership, and strengthen parts of that beloved relationship that had worn thin.  I was able to volunteer in my community.  And then more unexpected blessings came…  We took our first real family vacation, where we actually flew somewhere, unplugged from our realities, and soaked in some sun!  Then we decided to sell our “starter” house, and buy something bigger.  And so much more…  A new job opportunity has now formed for me in the Fall and I am excited to go back to work with a new perspective, and a new way of balancing life.

    No one will ever be able to tell me that a year off, or a month off, is a bad idea!  I highly recommend it – even when it doesn’t seem feasible!  Jump!  Take that risk!  The 5 benefits listed above are certainly true, and I would bet there are many more planned by God, just for us!


    • TNeal

      Jen–your words add impetus to Michael’s message. I’d say you just gave a strong endorsement to the sabbatical idea. Thanks for sharing your experience and your enthusiasm.–Tom

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for this testimonial, Jen. I love stories of real people making this happen. I think it gives hope to others who think it might not be possible.

  • fmckinnon

    Cool to read this … I was going to reach out to you and let you know about a group, short sabbatical-retreat that we’re hosting down here on beautiful St. Simons Island, GA in October, called “Refuge”.  It’s a 3-day sabbatical retreat, geared to leaders, worship leaders, church staff, ministry.  Ian Cron is going to be with us (not even public yet!) and we’re super excited to help people jump-start some time of solitude, worship, rest, and renewal.  Would be honored if you’d check it out at http://www.RefugeSSI.Com.    I’d planned on sending you some info.

    As we add news/updates to the blog on the RefugeSSI.Com site, I’m trying to re-publish blogs that I’m finding from other folks talking about refuge, solitude, sabbatical, etc.  May I have permission to copy a portion of this post, and link back?

  • Scott Edwards

    I was so fortunate to work at a company that offered an 8 week sabbatical every 7 years of service. They offer that to all employees and rsalize the benefits of doing so. I was able to recharge, spend a wonderful summer with my wife and children. We will always remember that time. I highly recommend it!

    • Michael Hyatt

      Now that’s an enlightened corporation. I wish all companies would do this.

  • Jason Burris

    Dear Michael, I met you and heard you Speak at a Lifework Leadership retreat and have started following you ever since. I really appreciate you and your heart to post and be a mentor like person daily as I read your post and align My life with Gods truth and your practical wisdom.

    Thanks and I hope to meet you again. I’m in between having a really solid mentor right now but God has provided through technology you.

    Have a great week!

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Jason.

  • Dylan Dodson

    It’s amazing how taking time away to relax can make us more productive than if we had never taken that time off to begin with.

  • wrdhuntr

    Great to hear about your sabbatical experience!  After twenty-three years in professional ministry, I’m taking an eight-week sabbatical this fall, for the first time.  Your reflections are very helpful as I plan for that time.  How did you approach setting goals and schedules prior to your sabbatical?  And did you find yourself changing expectations once you were actually in the middle of the sabbatical time?

    • Michael Hyatt

      We tried to be very minimalistic. It is easy to just keep producing. You can make your sabbatical a new job if you aren’t careful. I think the key is rest, reconnection, and renewal. Anything that helps you achieve those, is a worthy pursuit.

  • Melissa – Mel’s World

    My husband and I have actually been talking about this on and off for a few years now. We’ve been in full time ministry for over ten years and well…we’re needing that time to rest, refocus and just rest in Him. It’s not in the plan for this year, and maybe not next year, but it is absolutely something we are working towards within the next few years. Thanks for sharing your experience with us, you have no idea how much it helps. ~ Melissa

  • bethanyplanton

    I feel like I need to work a couple more years in the nonprofit world before taking any kind of sabbatical. 

  • Maureen

    Michael, have you ever blogged a definition of a sabbatical? How does it differ from a vacation?

    • Michael Hyatt

      I have not. I’ll give that some thought.

  • Will Cookson

    I’m beginning to plan my next sabbatical – hopefully for 2013. Had my first on in 2007 – six weeks to which I added 2 weeks holiday. It was an amazing time. Got to go to the Holy Land, a week on retreat up a mountain as well as lots of reading etc.

    My next one is the long one (clergy in my diocese get a sabbatical every seven years) – thirteen weeks!! Really looking forward to that one and deciding what to do with it.

  • Theresa Ip Froehlich

    Most people find our sense of self-worth in doing and producing. This may be the biggest reason, besides the fear of rejection by the employer, workers do not take long sabbaticals. My husband and I are also learning to not wait till we get the one-week or one-month vacations. Instead we find mini-sabbaticals each week and each month to regain perspective on life, to reconnect with God, and to realign with each other.
    Great post with practical application. Thank you, Michael.

  • SabbaticalScapes

    Great post on sabbaticals! I took a huge step of faith and quit my corporate job, at the height of the recession,  to go on sabbatical to travel and do things I’ve always wanted to do.  Since then, I have been learning to play golf,  taken flight lessons, travelled globally, and just recently started working on my doctorate degree. It has been almost 2 years and counting and I haven’t regretted anything.
    Most people do not realize that there is more to life than the hustle and busyness of everyday life. It is ok to live a slower lifestyle.  Many are concerned about the money. But, with planning, prayer, and faith, it can be done. Moreover, it is worth it. Time is the only thing we can’t get back.
    I have been documenting my experience and adventures on my blog Where will your dreams take you?

  • Travis Dommert

    The response to this post is indicative of the chord being struck…people are tired.  I just read a great HBR article from 2001 on the topic, The Making of a Corporate Athlete.  

    No one asks a professional football player why they have so many days off (plus the summer).  Yet, most executives go, go, go all day (and into the night) for weeks and years on end.

    They call it linearity…going and going all the time with out rest and recharge.  The opposite is oscillation, varying your stress and peak performance behaviors with recovery.  Oscillation recharges and yields higher performance in ALL facets of life: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual.As a small example, our founder Mark and I took a few days earlier this spring to go work at the Biltmore Estate (we just loaded up and camped out there each day in a fresh setting, sans cell calls).  The first day felt forced.  The second day we started actually having BIG ideas.  Ideas that just wouldn’t have come under the constraints of an over-scheduled day in the office.We have committed to make our 2 day retreat a quarterly event.  It is VITAL!

    • Michael Hyatt

      I love the concept of oscillation. Perfect metaphor.

  • Ben Holbrook

    I think a sabbatical sounds a great idea. When i have mentioned the idea to colleagues before its always amazed me the number of obstacles people come up with to why it could never happen. However i think you have outlined some excellent benefits Micheal.

    I guess for most people there is a financial cost, but if you can budget it into your finances then like anything it becomes a possibility. I read recently about a state in Australia who encourage teachers to take a sabbatical every 7 years. You can opt to pay a small bit from your monthly to go towards it.

    I have just started using the ‘life plan’ and for me with 3 young kids, the sabbatical is not yet in reach, however i intend to ensure i give time to regulalry recharge, plan and reflect throughout the year.

  • Dustin W. Stout

    Powerful thoughts here Michael. I only wish I could manage to get an entire week off. I will be praying for the opportunity to do this some day.

  • Dave Anthold

    I think we should all dare to think about a sabbatical; however, rarely do many of us ever act upon it.  I would love to take a sabbatical, but I do not have the financial means to take such an endeavor, nor does my company support sabbaticals (paid or unpaid).  If I had a sabbatical, I would choose to spend it working on a my 1-3 year plan, reflection, and possibly working on a book.

  • Jmd02c


    Great post.  Very insightful.  How about now posting how to ask your boss for a sabbatical?  You have been a unique position, both by taking one and being the boss, to explain how we can discuss the benefits with our employer.    

  • Jacqueline Whitmore

    Michael, did you and Gail take your dog to Colorado? That’s my challenge.  If so, how did you find a pet-friendly place to stay? I’d love to take my dog with me when I go on sabbatical.

    • Michael Hyatt

      We could have taken our dog, but we didn’t. We had a daughter at home, so she took care of him.

  • Oleg Sinitsin

    One of my unrealized dreams is to take my 2 sons trekking for several weeks somewhere in the wilderness. No outside world distractions, just me and my boys.

  • Gary Owen

    Great post, Michael.  I first heard about sabbaticals a couple of years ago from Steve Dulin, who is a founding elder at Gateway Church in Southlake, TX.  His ministry is MasterPlan Ministries,  He is a big believer in sabbaticals and take 3-4 a year.  He also has a lot of great teaching on applying Biblical principals to business.

    I’ve been drawn to your blog over the past couple of months as you and he are walking a similar phase in life right now.  He sold his company about 18 months ago, and is focusing his time on ministry consulting and speaking.

  • Russ Pond

    I love the concept of a sabbatical. At our church, sabbaticals are encouraged (and required for pastors).

    For some reason, I haven’t done one. As the owner of my company, I’m in a unique position to go on sabbatical. I could easily set aside time to do so, but I guess in many ways, I am afraid of being really, really bored, since I like to be working and doing things.

    You wrote: “In fact, we gave ourselves permission not to be productive. It was difficult at first, but eventually we settled into a new rhythm.”

    In my own little warped way, being unproductive feels like failure to me. If I can get over that, a sabbatical sounds amazing!

    • Michael Hyatt

      Yes, you have to confront this one head on. There is a time to be productive (God gave us six days for that); and a time to be unproductive (the Sabbath).

      • Russ Pond

        Yeah, I know you’re right. I just need to do it. Thanks for the encouraging words.

  • Geoff Talbot

    Hi Michael,

    Congrats on having the courage to slow down. I think most of us afraid to slow down, or we get addicted to our work in some ways.

    Really great advice for a younger dude like me, that loves to work. I am going to try to program this sabbatical into our family life, when we finally have the time/resource etc.

    What was it that stopped you from doing it earlier? Did you think about it and keep putting it off? Or did it just not “seem” possible?

    Thanks Again

    • Michael Hyatt

      I think the problem was all in mind. I dismissed the idea without ever really thinking about it.

      • Geoff Talbot

        Thanks for admitting that.


  • Matt Powell

    #5 is great point.  We don’t often remember that when we are thinking about the benefits of a sabbatical.  I have not ever been able to take one but I have noticed how much the small one week or even weekend outings deepen the communication in our marriage.  I’d imagine you would be able to talk through things in new deepness through an intentional sabbatical.  thanks for this… you have challenged me to consider when… I know it won’t be this year but as you’ve said I should work on putting it on the calendar.

  • Espeir1700


    That’s a great idea about a sabbatical. If we are unable to take a sabbatical because of time constraints and financial constraints could you offer any advice for those of us who are not in the place to take one? I would love to but right now its not feasible because of the stage of life that I’m in. I’m an introvert by nature so sabbaticals and time away is good for my personality type.


    • Michael Hyatt

      I think most people don’t take sabbaticals is because they think they can’t. Your mind comes up with a 1,000 reasons why it is impossible. I think they key is let your mind soak in possibility for a while. Ask, “what would have to happen for this to work?” Then ask, “How badly do I want to do this?”

      • Espeir1700

        Thanks Michael. That’s a great coaching technique!

  • Pat Katepoo

    How to ask the employer is the challenge. I love this topic and was excited to read your post because I am oh-so-close to finishing a free ebook called The Six-Week Sabbatical Escape Manual: How to Get Management Approval of Your Extended Travel Dream. Your readers are welcome to read a couple of excerpts here:

    • Michael Hyatt

      This sounds like a great e-book. Thanks.

  • Roger Messner

    Dude, glad for you. But all this would do for me…or I imagine any of my peers is cause them to loose their homes.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Unless you plan for it.

      • Maureen

        I don’t mean to be unkind, but it does seem sometimes, Michael, that you are out of touch with the common working man. We are living day-to-day, barely making our mortgages and putting food on the table. If we are fortunate to get a two-week “vacation”, it’s spent doing odd jobs like house painting to try to make enough money to pay for extras like Christmas presents. Perhaps we’ll take some time to visit the grandparents if they don’t live too far away and it won’t cost more than a tank of gas. Asking our boss for a sabbatical is laughable. How would someone taking time to reflect and dream and pray enhance their job on the assembly line? If I worked for a publishing company (especially a Christian one!) of course my boss may see a connection between my job performance and a sabbatical, and may allow me time off. But my husband who works at the city dump? There are three or four guys just waiting to take his job! If he asked for a sabbatical, he would be fired and replaced that very day. Your answer to “plan for it” doesn’t address these very real issues. The only way I can see to “plan” for it is to sacrifice a week of vacation with my children, send them to grandma’s, and stay at home where it’s free, alone with my husband to dream. Maybe that’s what you mean, but it’s a far cry from your lovely, expensive month away travelling the country. You don’t seem very sympathetic to the average worker.

        • Michael Hyatt

          I don’t intend to be unkind or unsympathetic. But what is the alternative? You sound very unhappy. You can either stay in your present circumstances or plan for something different. I am not suggesting it is easy. I am suggesting it won’t happen until you have the intention to create something else.

  • Jmhardy97

    I was one of those who never took vacations. Work was the way to get all things. I was on my way t0 the top. Then I took one and realized that there is more to life than work. There are beautiful things like friends and family out there. I realized that God created a beautiful world and I just needed to slow down and enjoy the moment. It was the best decision I ever made.

  • Terry Lange

    I wish that I was in a position to take a sabbatical.  I have heard from many people that it is just the thing they need in order to help them refocus.  I am currently looking for vocational full-time ministry and I am currently working a secular job that does not offer any sabbaticals to its employees.  Some churches that have adopted the practice, allow a sabbatical to be taken after 5 or 10 years of service.

    For me, if I were able to take a sabbatical, I would enjoy spending more time with my family.  I would also like to get serious about possibly writing a book.  I would also be able to tackle the project that has hung over my head for a long time – going paperless and getting rid of tons of files/paper.  The only thing missing from being able to accomplish that is time and money.  Money to be able to purchase the high speed scanner and a shredder to shred the paper and eventually recycle it.  Time to be able to devote to seeing this project through to fruition.

    Maybe someday….

  • Gail

    I’ve never been in a position that has allowed me to get away for a sabbatical but I have taken weekends away to recharge. At times these have been much needed life lines that have kept me focused and sane. If you can’t take a month, try a week or even a weekend. I highly recommend it.

    The key I’ve found is that you need to go AWAY from home. Home is full of tasks you have to do (especially for women). By going away from home you have space from the demands of life to recharge and refocus.

  • Sheridan Voysey

    Fantastic thoughts, Mike. 

    Last week I completed something similar at Swiss L’Abri, the retreat/study centre founded by Francis and Edith Schaeffer (here’s a review of the experience:

    In our frantic time we seldom truly retreat from the distractions of the world to find clarity.

    • Michael Hyatt

      My wife and daughter each spent time there. My wife, 35 years ago for a summer. My daughter, four years ago for a year. Awesome experience for both of them.

    • Robert Ewoldt

      Sheridan, that looks amazing. Thanks for the link to your post… although
      the link didn’t go through, I was able to find the post here:

  • Uma Maheswaran S

    30 day sabbatical is a great idea. I thought of the same in my past experience. I hope it will be a great time to recharge and refresh and reconnect ourselves with our purpose in our life. I should be exploring whether this is possible in my current context. Thanks for the creative suggestion Mike!

  • Cindy Hirch

    Actually I’ve had an opportunity to do that very thing although, because of the circumstances that allowed it to take place, I didn’t realize it initially. It wasn’t intentional, but what came as a result has been very intentional over the past year.

    What I have gained is a new perspective and clarity. The opportunity to seek God’s direction for my future unlike anything I had ever experienced in the past, without all the previous filters and fog. I am meeting people that have a tremendous positive influence on my life. I have a keen sense of who I am and how God made me. It has been a tremendous time of growth personally and in my walk with Christ. I am moving forward in leaps and bounds up the mountain and loving it even on days that are challenging.

  • Paul Wilkinson

    “I realize that we are in a unique position.”

    Always be thankful for that.

  • Jeff Randleman

    I’m not in a financial position to do this in such a way as you did.  However, I do schedule in “mini” sabbaticals frequently, several times a year for a day or two up to a week.  Some are family oriented, others are alone, but they are so worth it!

    Reading through your list of benefits, I love the concept of human beings vs human doings.  Thanks!

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  • guy melton

    Im on my second Sabbatical. This one is 5 months. That seems impossible as a Pastor of a church of 2-3,000 but you used the word “Intentional” and you said no one had asked! As founder of the church of 20 yrs I decided to ask! Now every pastor on staff gets one every 5 yrs they are with us. I believe most Pastoral burnouts, moral failures and church hopping would all most cease if Churches and Pastors took intentional plans for Sabbaticals. We need a good book or manual to share with churches and pastors! Most think its impossible and it is not. God bless you and Mike next one needs to be at least 2 months, maybe every 2-3 yrs.
    Guy Melton, Oasis Church of South Florida 

    • Michael Hyatt

      Guy, thanks for sharing this. Thank God for your courage in asking and for the benefit, not only to you, but to your entire team!

  • Lynne Holder

    Wouldn’t it be sweet to be in a position to take a month away. My husband and I, both self-employed, can hardly get away for a weekend. You’d think all that hard work would translate into the financial resources to get away, but hopefully soon.

    In my experience in the working world, the idea of asking my employer for a sabbatical would likely have been seriously considered by only one–a British professor I worked for in my research days. He had a totally different take on leadership than his American counterparts. He truly valued the people who worked for him and was concerned for our well-being, professionally and personally.

    American-style management is all about the bottom line–how much you can trim staff and push those left to maximize profits without  mistakes. Taking time away is such a burden on the rest of the people in the company. It’s likely to be a financial burden as well, given most people only receive 2 weeks paid vacation.

    Getting away is priceless. Even a weekend is better than nothing. My husband and I spent a weekend in Charleston recently, staying with good friends we hadn’t seen in 2 years. Just those couple of days were so refreshing because of the time relaxing, talking, connecting with our friends and with each other.

    Do whatever you can; a month or a weekend. It’s absolutely necessary.

    • W. Mark Thompson

      Yes. Get away as you can. I’m planning to be able to get away for at least a couple of weeks next year. It will take some planning and goal setting, but I figured we plan in business for results. Why not for our personal lives…? :) Blessings.

  • Michael H Smith

    Thanks for this post and it reminds me that we met during my sabbatical, hard to believe it has been almost three years. Now I am counting down to my next one…just four more years.

    I am fortunate to serve at a place that recognizes the importance of ‘sabbatical’ and puts resources behind their beliefs. All of the key leadership positions are granted a sabbatical after seven years of service and some extra money is budgeted that allows for travel and study. The sabbatical length is seven weeks.

    During my sabbatical I was able to spend quantity and quality time with my family and also spend several weeks researching topics that would help me carry out my leadership and ministry responsibilities.

    I am now in the position of working with my staff on their sabbatical plans and this post will be a great reference.

    • Michael Hyatt

      This is such a great gift, Michael. I wish more corporations would do this.

  • Brian Gentry

    A sabbatical is one of my BHAGs, thanks for sharing the results of your time away, it’s inspiring.  It was a real pleasure to briefly meet both you and Gail in Portland at Storyline.  Thank for making time during your sabbatical to contribute to so many. 
    Keep doing what you are doing, I’m excited to see the results of this next chapter in your story!

  • FrMichaelB

    Congratulations on the sabbatical. Your post comes a little late for me. I am currently on sabbatical from my parish in Cleveland, Ohio, 3 month’s worth, thanks to a Clergy Renewal Grant from the Lilly Foundation. Everything you write about in your post is true. Glad it’s been a blessing for you; I know mine is.

    +Fr.M., currently on retreat near Tolleshunt Knights by Maldon, Essex, England.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Good for you! I’m glad to know that Lilly makes these available.

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  • Ray_pulidoi

    I’ve been teaching for 25 years. God called me out of the public school system 3 years ago to teach at a Christian school. For the past 3 years I knew I was called to teach there. However, this year in May the Lord made it clear for me to resign and “be still and know that He is God”.  Wow! The amazing thing is that God provided my husband with a job that allowed me to quit teaching this year.  I know that He wants to do a new thing in me. So, for the first time in my life I am taking a sabbatical to see what God’s purpose is for my life now.
    Thank you so much for sharing! 

  • Ray_pulidoi

    I’ve been teaching for 25 years. God called me out of the public school system 3 years ago to teach at a Christian school. For the past 3 years I knew I was called to teach there. However, this year in May the Lord made it clear for me to resign and “be still and know that He is God”.  Wow! The amazing thing is that God provided my husband with a job that allowed me to quit teaching this year.  I know that He wants to do a new thing in me. So, for the first time in my life I am taking a sabbatical to see what God’s purpose is for my life now.
    Thank you so much for sharing! 

  • Betty Draper

    My husband and I are at a cross road after 30 some years of ministry, 20 some as overseas missionaries.  At 64 we are just plain tired…we surge all the time and though we love what we do our bodies are growing weaker with each surge.  Now we want to keep surging but know it has to be in a less stressful ministry.   Love the idea of a month long sabbatical. .  In fact I have had a dream of renting a car and driving up the coast of California, Oregon and heading over to Montana, visiting all those beautiful parks. Our home base it Kentucky and that is where we would end up and prayfully know what God in store for us.  So I have turned this dream over to the Lord and we will see….after all these years  of trusting Him to get us over seas and back I know I can trust Him in this.   A sabbatical would give us time to connect with each other, really listen to how the other wants to spend our remaining years.  A side note to this, in my dream my husband says we are driving a convertible.  Since our employers is God….He owns the all the cattle on every hill and Isiah 30:18 says He longs to be gracious to us….thanks for the great post. 

    • Michael Hyatt

      I pray that this happens for you!

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  • Carol

    I love this!  My husband and I have been on the mission field (in 3 countries) going on our 14th year now.  Sadly, our organization does not make any provision financially or time wise for sabbaticals so we’ve never considered them.  As a president of a seminary overseas, my husband has tremendous responsibility and obligation and although I know he would LOVE to take one, he just does not feel he can take the time nor do we really have the finances.  But a sabbatical has been on my mind (and heart) for a while now.  Both
    our children will be off to college in the fall and I’m certainly entering a new phase in my life without my children and frankly, he’s in desperate need of a real ‘rest’.  Thank you for this great article.  I am forwarding it to his email :)

  • Mark Taylor

    I also just took a sabbatical of sorts – about 6 weeks away from work (which is much easier as a teacher with a summer break). I was able to do many of the things you mentioned in your post. I did a life plan for the first time (I just recently discovered your eBook and this blog), caught my breath, enjoyed friendship, read for fun, made some progress on future career goals that are hard to move on during the school year, recalibrated with my wife and discussed future plans with her. It was such a great time of refreshment that it’s hard to want to get back to the grind. Today is the first day back to school, trying to work through the emails that have accumulated.
    Though I may not have the same amount of time each year, a break like this is definitely something I’d like to do regularly. Thanks for sharing about yours.

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  • Mjpeterson777

    I am blessed to have a spouse that enjoys the same things in life, we are together 24hrs a day and I wouldn’t have it any other way! We believe God has a plan for us, and we are patient to listen and pray that we have His best interests in mind and heart. This life seems designed to keep us from God and forget, We need the time to reflect and let God have our undivided attention, if we all can just stop, and worship him, with all our hearts and our spirits, this would be a better place to live. Keep up the Good fight and God bless one and all. A great article Mr. Hyatt a pleasure to read and should be mandatory for every being, Thanks.

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