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Clocks

The Gift of Time

By Shannon Litton

Shannon Litton headshot

Over the summer, I took a sabbatical. Not a two week extended vacation, but a real, multi-month, shut-the-email-off sabbatical. I wasn't burned out or questioning my future. I just decided to take some time to spend with family and unplug from the busy-ness of daily life, and my wonderful business partners not only approved of the idea but encouraged me to do it.

Like many who have taken sabbaticals, I had an impressive list of goals I wanted to accomplish. Because let's face it, there is some pressure to knock off at least a couple bucket-list items when given the rare gift of time. But there also were just so many things on my list that I would now have time for.

Not long into my sabbatical, I had to face a difficult reality. "Lack of time" had become an excuse for many things in my life. I would certainly exercise more, if I only had time. I'd read more...cook....take up some new hobbies...be a better friend to others. There were so many things that I'd do with time. But oddly, when given time, those were not the choices I made. Maybe, just maybe, lack of time was a really convenient excuse for the things I chose not to do.

I returned last month. I had failed at my list of goals, but I won the sabbatical. I have a new appreciation for the fact that it's not about having time but making time for things that matter most. It was a fantastic sabbatical. By the end I was ready to come back and missed my work and teammates. And I know there will be constant rebalancing to be sure I don't use time as an excuse.

I'm a big fan of uninterrupted time off. I think as leaders it makes us better and our teams stronger. If you're fortunate enough to be granted time off, I'd love to talk. I've got a few ideas (start with killing the goals list) for you.

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