Professor Life

Taking a (life) sabbatical

January 22, 2022

by Dr. Cindy Briggs January 22, 2022 In higher education, there is this thing called “sabbatical”. After a professor has been teaching/researching at a university for typically seven years, they can request a sabbatical from the university. This is when they take time off to research, read, rest, revive and reenergize. If you look up […]

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by Dr. Cindy Briggs

January 22, 2022

In higher education, there is this thing called “sabbatical”. After a professor has been teaching/researching at a university for typically seven years, they can request a sabbatical from the university. This is when they take time off to research, read, rest, revive and reenergize. If you look up the definition of sabbatical it says, “a period of paid leave granted to a university teacher or other worker for study or travel, traditionally one year for every seven years worked.” It also says it is related to the sabbath– which means to rest from work.

I have taught in higher education for over 20 years, but I have never had a sabbatical. Why? Well because my higher education journey was a bit up and down and I was never in a full-time, professor position for that required time. That is for another story, and another post.

What I want to focus on here is the idea of “sabbatical”. We don’t see this very much in the for-profit world. You have vacation time, but not a true sabbatical where you can rest and recharge. I wonder why we don’t do that? We are human and we get tired, burned out, and overwhelmed. I wonder what it would look like if businesses instituted this practice. But yet again, that is for another time and another post.

In my mind- this is my sabbatical

I want to talk about how I am implementing a sabbatical in my life right now. Now let me preface this by saying, “yes, I am blessed to have the opportunity to be able to do this, and I realize not everyone can do it exactly like I am planning.” However, I think we can find ways for everyone to take points from this and use it in your own life.

The idea for my sabbatical actually came from my husband. I was having turmoil in my latest higher education faculty job, and I was just burned out. I knew I was going to leave that position– but I wasn’t sure what to do. I have my own business, I do business coaching, and I prep a lot of free content– so my plans were to just go full force into those areas when my husband stopped me one day and said, “you need a sabbatical!” I laughed and said it would be great for someone to pay me for that— but that wasn’t happening.

Then I stopped and thought– yes…. I do need a sabbatical. I have been teaching for over 20 years, I have done business coaching/consulting for most of that time too. I have helped over 20 nonprofits start in that time period. I have just gone, and gone, and gone. Even when my son was born in December 2012, I was back the spring semester teaching in January 2013.

Alright– enough of the back story! Let’s look at how to do a sabbatical (big or small). Here is what I am doing for the next six months…..

  1. I have gotten off of Facebook and Instagram. When I really evaluated these platforms– I realized they were just adding stress to my life and no value. So I removed them from my phone, put an “out of office” type post on both, and I haven’t looked back (well so far!)
  2. I have said “no” to taking on more clients/ speaking engagements through May. This will allow me to focus on those who I already serve, and think about the last part of the year will look like for me.
  3. I have resigned from several groups/committees. While all of these things were so amazing and do bring value– I needed time to just evaluate all of my “yes’s”. I am a recovering people pleaser so I tend to say YES to everything. Cindy… do you want to serve/lead XYZ committee… and the answer was almost always “SURE”! All of these good things can turn bad when you are doing them for the wrong reasons.
  4. I have made a commitment to my home life— we homeschool our children and I want to be able to give them the attention they need and deserve… I also want to focus on my home in general (you know all the organizing, fixing up, etc) All of these things seem like a burden when I am putting my career first.
  5. I did add one new time commitment for a bible study that I have loved in the past— it is one that really gets me deep into the Word and that is part of where I want to focus right now. I want to give it due time.
  6. I am pursing things I love…that I have quit doing the last few years. I am reading, writing, cooking, and learning new skills. These are all out of enjoyment and not out of guilt or duty.
  7. Finally, I am praying… and I mean really praying everyday. While this may not be how you want to spend your sabbatical (and that is FINE!!)… I really believe I am being called to something and I am praying to figure that out. I think Christy Wright said it so great this week (WATCH HER HERE) that sometimes we are called OUT of something before we know what our new purpose might be. That sums up my idea for this sabbatical perfectly.

Again, I know not everyone can take time away from work to do this. However, I think we can come up with ways that ANYONE can revive, renew, recharge and rest. I don’t mean the advice of “take a bath”, “read a book”, etc. I mean substantial ways to revive. Maybe you need to take a class in something completely new. Maybe you need to get OFF of social media for a while. You could say “no” to new commitments. Or maybe it is something else.

Taking a chunk of time to really regroup should be required of each and every one of us. Let’s not drive ourselves so hard, for so long, that we lose sight of what we want to do or who we want to be.

I hope this can give you some inspiration on your sabbatical in 2022!

Dr. Cindy Briggs is an author, professor, podcast host and speaker. She lives in Indiana with her husband, three children and two dogs. To learn more, visit


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