Every year, Adam and I take a sabbatical during the months of June and December.

I know what you’re thinking: this sounds awesome. So how come I feel like I failed at being off during my time off? Why am I making this into something hard?

You’re not wrong; it IS awesome. I love it. In the context of our hustle and grind society, it’s amazing to have a luxurious chunk of time away from my office.

Aaand, believe it or not, taking a month off twice a year is not as easy as it sounds. First of all, we had to choose to take two full months off, which is no mean feat, especially when you’re entrepreneurs. I mean, anyone can take time off work, as long as they’re willing to accept the consequences of taking time off.

Remember, when you’re self-employed, no one’s paying you for vacation time. And if you’re self-employed, you probably are no stranger to anxiety and feeling hyper-responsible. This isn’t even counting the fact that I love my work and I adore my clients.

So it’s a real trust-fall-exercise to take an extended leave of absence. Taking this time off means trusting ourselves and our clients during that space. We need to enrol our clients in a month off being of service to them, too. My clients (and members of The Forge—the leadership training program I co-lead with Adam) all have access to The June Intentional: a self-paced, 5-week mid-year annual planning program, as well as drop-in office hours for connection and support.

We often take the opportunity June presents to take advantage of the time off and generally lovely weather to travel during these semi-annual sabbaticals, which is when I like to head off on a Big Adventure!

This year, we didn’t plan a big trip. We’d just returned from a week of ceremony in Costa Rica. Adam was a presenter in a Coaching Mastery Summit and I was a participant (I’m in the process of going for my Master Coach Credential and also wanted the continuing education credits).

So how did I mess this all up? Well, first of all, I didn’t really mess anything up, because that would be dramatic (me? dramatic?). But, what this time off showed me was my relationship to time and balance and self love could use A LOT of attention.

In my typical, non-linear-relationship-to-Time way, I didn’t get very clear about what I wanted to achieve (read: everything in the world) and from there, I didn’t create a clear structure for any of it.

I didn’t clarify what was required in terms of the Summit I was attending. It was 8 days of at least 3 hours of participation. That took me up until the middle of the month, which I hadn’t accounted for.

We would also be gone for 5 days at the end of the month to attend a wedding in Colorado (I was officiating the ceremony for a client). Again, this is an awesome thing to get to do—it was fun and such a deep honour—and it was also a commitment at the same time. I was nervous to officiate a wedding for the first time, and I underestimated that anxiety. It’s hard to focus on moving projects forward when you have the jitters…

Speaking of projects, my plan had been to complete my book edits in my time off, which was a stretch goal to begin with, and that was without a week and a half of class time.

My plan to “edit my book” was about that: the idea of editing my book, without any time in my calendar booked to actually do it. So guess what? It didn’t happen.

I was also going to do a massive purge of stuff and clean/clear the garage, while adhering to my routines for the sake of consistency. I was going to do some much-needed yard work and sort out my garden beds.

I also intended to have plenty of space for fun, rest and relaxation, apparently in the generic sense, because I didn’t take the time to get clear and specific about what that would look like or when I was going to do it.

Just like editing my book, most of this stuff stayed in the theoretical realm of what I meant to do, but had created no structure to actually DO IT.

And in case it’s not clear, the by-product of all this intention-ing without creating an actual plan that included structure, scheduling and accountability is a hefty pile of self-loathing and guilt.

There was a lot less fun and productivity and rest and relaxation than I’d intended. I suppose, in hindsight, that sentence pretty much demonstrates the set up I’d created for myself. I may have had competing intentions. Without a plan, they sort of canceled each other out.

How lovely. Imagine having a whole month off, just to fill it with guilt and shame. What a treat.

Now, lucky for me, I have an extremely savvy coach who is well familiar with the wiley ways of my survival mechanism. None of this is particularly surprising to me, and while the pattern is disappointing, I can see how I set this month up to wind up feeling lazy and behind, while also feeling resentful of all the fun I didn’t have.

I’m almost relieved to be back to my normal schedule next week, even if my calendar looks a lot more hectic.

So even though in many ways I failed at my month off, I learned a lot about myself. I can see the places I still need to create more structure, and how important that structure is for me to create an experience of life I love.

I know that when I am connected to my purpose and prioritizing joy, my life works better and I feel happier.

I learned that I need to access self love to give myself what I need (structure, routine AND space), which helps me to create what I want (joy). And that self love is the key and the doorway, not the treasure hidden away at the end.

I also definitely learned (or remembered), that intention alone isn’t enough. That Life will go whipping by whether I’m intentional or not about it. So, if there are things I want to do, experiences I want to have and ways I want to feel, I’d better try to get a bit more clear about them, or I’ll miss the chance.

So, even if I failed at a lot of what I’d intended to do this past month, I’d say that overall, the lessons I learned are a pretty big win. And I still have a few months of summer to fit in all that fun, productivity and relaxation.