How I Spent My Time on the First Month of My Sabbatical

Sabbatical Recap: Month 1

So I’ve been on a “sabbatical” for 9 months. There’s a reason I put that in asterisks. Not only because it’s typically associated with something mid-career/late-career professors do, but because I realised I had a bunch of goals which required “work”. Not paid work – but work nonetheless. I set these goals intentionally, but what I didn’t realise was the subconscious weight of expectations I put on myself to achieve them. 

A “job” gives you structure, support, pay and external motivations to achieve your work KPI’s. We’re hard wired to be externally motivated, our whole schooling is based on a teacher telling us what to do and external deadlines. It’s definitely not as easy when you’re on your own. I’m no stranger to the entrepreneurial path, but I’ve never gone all in while at the same time doing it at a pace that is enjoyable, stress-free and without giving up other things that I usually love doing.

My attitude has usually been “yes I can do 100 different things at the same time and they should all have been done yesterday”. This obviously has led to burn out every single year, and I’ve always left to go recoup in the Himalayas at an ashram (almost a whole month every year for 7 years!). 

Some of my original goals were 

  • Stick to a fitness routine – 4-5 days a week ✅
  • Sleep on time & get 8 hours ✅
  • Improve my mental health (by doing the above + not stressing + tapping into inner wisdom- things I know, but don’t always practise). ✅
  • Write 200 words a day and subsequently finish writing a book I started 100 years ago! 🙅🏻‍♀️
  • Record more podcasts for my comedy one (Punjabi Songs Explained) + The Daizy Project. 🙅🏻‍♀️
  • Apply for 4 key scholarships for 2024/2025
  • Make my non-profit more sustainable (recruit a new team + apply for grants while executing existing projects like Brown Women Comedy) 🙅🏻‍♀️
  • Do things that scare me – instead of just producing BWC, I decided to write a stand-up set and perform in the show at Melbourne International Comedy Festival 🙅🏻‍♀️
  • Make more content – write, videos etc ✅
  • Travel somewhere and explore / go on an adventure

Back when my sabbatical started I was thinking I’d share a blog monthly but alas – here we are 9 months later. So when I started writing this piece, I was writing a blog to recap the 9 months and share my reflection. That got way too long, so instead I’m going to recap month one which was December 2022. 

Month One Recap

Here’s a categorised recap, it includes most things since I put them in my calendar. I also used my Instagram stories archive since I post on there regularly

I finished up my role with MAP early this month

Health / Fitness
Went to pilates + gym on average 4-5 days a week. I wrote about how I’ve stayed committed to that here.

I had 5 doctor specialist appointments, some things I really should have looked into over two years ago but of course “I didn’t have time” (I do prefer to replace “have” with “make”). As a result, 9 months later I’m still on a wait list for a minor surgery that I probably could have been done a year ago. 

Worked on our non-profit
Australian South Asian Centre: had 8 meetings/calls related to it, and in total spent 32 hours over 1 month – roughly 8 hours a week. I’ve finally started keeping track of hours (which I didn’t do for 2 years!). Though I mainly worked in the organisation – operations, not on the organisation. The latter is what I want to do more of – that’s what will make it sustainable.

I made more time for friends, caught up with 6 friends, 1-1 for a proper catch-up. Offered lifts to the airport, went for walks without worrying about ‘deadlines’ and how ‘busy’ I was. Went to a soccer match at Fed Square for the first time, went out dancing at a Bollywood night, walked around South Melbourne markets and ate my favourite Pandan pastry. 

Saw my baby niece twice and played with my 3 year old nephew – my favourite was watching him splash under a sprinkler in the backyard while getting mud all over him. I love spending time with them, reminds me of how important “play” is.

Re-connected who I’ve crossed paths or people I haven’t met before, for no reason other than just to re-connect and/or learn about what they’re up to. Some included Preethi Mohani, Ben Campbell & Asami Koike – who are all doing some very inspiring work! 

Interest related
went to a couple of ‘work-esque / interest- related’ events – MAP Velocity Showcase and Christmas drinks at the British Consul

Delivered a workshop/talk
for women going through domestic violence on job readiness. Everytime I deliver a workshop I do put 7-10 hours into preparation and this time I also met with the organisation beforehand a couple of times.

did my first overnight hike – 3 capes in Tasmania, finally became the person who “enjoys hiking”. Well sometimes. 

I realise reading the above it looks like it was go-go-go, but it wasn’t in reality. There have been so many days where I did very little or “nothing” at all: lounged around just being in the moment, knowing that I didn’t “have” to do anything. Sometimes I would slowly cook 3 dishes a day and watch my favourite shows on Netflix. 

The list at the top was roughly in order of priority, but I found myself not doing it in the order of priority – instead I focused most of the time on ASAC + social things + relaxing.  Which is ok, because it was the last few weeks of my job and festive season.

Updating My Sabbatical Goals

I realise now my goals needed updating / re-prioritising, I didn’t realise that at the time but just in writing this blog – it’s made me realise it. I think adding the following 3 will mean I don’t have a sense of underlying ‘guilt’ if I do these things and don’t do the others. I also need to remind myself, sure it’s a priority list – but these are equally important. This is an ongoing journey since I’m so conditioned to achieving things and being “ambitious”. 

  • Spend quality 1-1 time with friends, I’m not a group person so I prefer to connect on a deeper level and that only happens 1-1 or very small groups. 
  • Spend time with my nephew + niece while they’re still small and cute. 
  • Relax: time spent with no objective other than to just be in the moment. Being fully present without thinking about goals/achieving.  As Ram Das says – Be Here. Now.

That’ll do for now! I know quite a few people over on Instagram have asked me some questions – like how I could afford to do a sabbatical? I’ll hopefully write about that in the future but if you have any questions, just send me a message on Instagram/Linkedin.