Notes from My 8-Month Sabbatical (A Love Letter to Big Bosses, Fearless Founders, Visionary Leaders and Serial Entrepreneurs Chasing a Dream)

In Crisis & Change Management, Leadership, Vision & Purpose by Rosalyn C. RainDancerLeave a Comment

Walking Away From A Dream 

As Mother Nature’s landscape turned from the lush, verdant green of Summer to a kaleidoscope of bright yellows, oranges, reds and browns of Autumn, then to the chilly but peaceful white stillness of the dark Winter, we have settled into the rhythm of the new year of 2019. As we herald in the Lunar Year of the fortuitous Pig, I’ve finally found the space and courage to share a piece of my journey for the last eight months.

2018 was a year of unexpectedly challenging growth and transition for my life and my body of work, and in ways I would normally hesitate to share publicly.

It was not the way I had planned my year to go: for the first time in three and a half years, I spent the summer on a chosen and very private sabbatical from my usual business activities, and what I thought would take only a season of rest, retreat and recalibration took almost three seasons.

For nearly a decade, I had worked towards a dream of thriving in doing work that aligned with my purpose and that allowed me to give my gifts and make an impact especially in the business world. I had a picture of what “success” looked like in my chosen industry, and for a number of years, I seized opportunities to learn, grow, serve, create and collaborate. I learned from numerous teachers and mentors that showed me the way.

I was ready for “next level growth”. At the beginning of 2018, I thought I had come close. I had the penthouse corner office with a beautiful view of the mountains. I had an assistant, and I had just completed a business plan that would take my business to multiple 6 figures.

After first quarter came to a close, I couldn’t help but feel something was amiss. I went to work, sitting in my executive chair in my corner office, but to my own surprise, I looked around and felt numb and disconnected. I wasn’t feeling the passion behind the work. I still loved what I did, but somehow felt that I was running out of juice. I rationalized it: I had made two major decisions in my business upon the advice of my mentor that had failed. My heart was still tender from a dating disaster months prior, and I had not properly tended to that; instead, I threw myself back into “work” as a distraction.

It was a strange feeling. I am a fiery, passionate woman, but deep down I felt that my inner fire had fizzled out. That feeling had been creeping up on me for the past six months but I was too busy “hustling” and “growing” to hear it.  

Finally, in the spring, everything in my bones and cells was telling me to STOP and PAUSE while the rest of my being was resisting “quitting” and “failing”. Against all my business instincts, I made the painful decision to end the lease to my office, let go of my assistant, and let go everything else that I was striving towards (the goals, the stage, the money, the travel, the ‘laptop lifestyle’, the ‘financial freedom’, etc.). 

It was scary: this seemingly small but insistent voice inside me that literally told me to “put everything down” and throw myself into the abyss of “not knowing” and “no plans”. 

In a culture that glorifies hard work and hustling, of never quitting, of never giving up, (and with my stubborn personality and tenacious tendencies backing it up), what I did felt like the epitomy of what-not-to-do-when-you’re-a-leader-and-entrepreneur-with-big-dreams.

I felt like a Big. Fat. Failure. 

During this abrupt and insistent ending, I was consumed with grief. I felt lost and confused. Here I was, Miss “Make Your Dreams Come True” was walking away: it felt like “quitting” and letting it all go. It felt like I lost all passion for what I used to do for the past several years. It literally felt like someone had died. 

And that someone was the part of me that had the dream

In summer of last year, I said goodbye to my beautiful office with a view, and along with it, a part of me that had “the dream”.

Telling the Truth to Myself

Over the years, I had had wonderful mentors who taught me how to build my business and give my gifts in a way that felt creative and deeply fulfilling. My most recent mentor was a woman that I had worked closely with in a Mastermind for two years. For about four years before that, I had been following her teachings on social media. She was a woman that I deeply respected and admired, and that I saw as a model for the kind of leader and businesswoman that I wanted to be in the coaching/training industry.

After six years being influenced and mentored by her, I finally stood on the threshold of the path that if I continued to journey on, would take me to exactly where she was and what she had accomplished – something I had admired and wanted for so many years.

But, I had to be brutally honest about one thing: getting up close and personal with what that “success” looked like, I wasn’t sure that I wanted “it” – in all its glory and complexity, in all its shininess and shadows.

I had to confront the truth—whether this was something I really wanted and what was I prepared to sacrifice in order to have it. 

And I had to face the fact that there were core aspects of how things were done in the industry that didn’t align with who I was, my values, and how I wanted to show up as a leader, as a mentor, as a coach/trainer and as a businesswoman.

I felt like I was living a lie because I was following a formula that was working for a time, but it stopped working for me as I grew. I had grown as a person and my priorities had shifted, and I couldn’t carry on doing the same thing that I knew to do.

I couldn’t possibly follow a model or formula that I couldn’t stand behind and that didn’t feel aligned and authentic with how my business organically wanted to grow. I felt lost and confused. I felt alone in my inner conflict and in my walking away. I grieved the loss of a mentor and a business community that I had grown to love and cherish.

Against all popular advice to “keep going” and to “never give up”, I closed a chapter of the book of my business. It felt so right, and yet it felt like the most heartbreaking thing I had experienced in years. I felt ashamed for “quitting”. The shadow of The Impostor Syndrome came barreling through my door. How scary that was, to leave everything I knew behind in search for my soul’s truth.

The Sweet Fruits of a Summer Sabbatical

After a couple of weeks integrating the shock of my transition, I did the only thing I knew how to do in times of crisis: I prayed. I reached out to my inner circle and spiritual mentors for support. I processed. I cried. I wept. I slept. I rested. I prayed again. I wept again. I reached out again for support. I slept. I rested. Rinse and repeat.

I had a realization that I was in the midst of another layer of spiritual awakening, and the tectonic shifts internally were as deep and subtle as they were loud and insistent. 

The primal survival reaction of not knowing what I was going to do for my livelihood was so intense that my doctor had prescribed anxiety meditation so I could sleep. 

Ending this phase of my business and body of work caused me to evaluate every single area of my life — from my health, to my relationships, friendships, lifestyle, etc. and measure them against the woman I had become. It occurred to me that I had been chasing after a dream that was a decade old! Did I still want these things?Why?What do I desire now? 

It’s funny how when you’re going through a life crisis or major transition, everybody seems to have an opinion about it. Some people will feel sorry for you. Others will freely dispense their worldly wisdom even when you didn’t ask for it, and yet others will share about a time when they went through something similar hoping it will bring you solace and comfort. They all helped somewhat, but after a while, I knew it was time to turn inward.  

I didn’t desire anything besides to be alone, to be quiet, to not do anything, to not be anything or be accountable to anyone; not to “help” or “support” anyone; not to work on anything or any goals, but simply to just BE.  

I had lost all interest in my previous lifestyle. I was repulsed by social media and could barely stand to connect virtually. I made half-hearted attempts to “connect” and “post”, and it left me feeling even more disconnected. I let go of anything and anyone in my life that I no longer felt resonant with, that felt like “dead weight”, and this left me feeling even more alone and isolated than ever before. 

This overall feeling of malaise and restlessness prompted me to unplug at a Retreat Centre in Vancouver Island for a week at a time, twice last summer. 

It occurred to me that what I was going through was a transition that many of my clients go through (though it may show up as different faces) and I found myself in a “stage” of one of my programs. 

A week at a time, twice this summer, in the heart of the forest, in a tiny one-person cabin, I put myself through my own visioning process that I take my clients through using a variety of spiritual and strategic tools. In silence and solitude, I was better able to hear myself and the voice of God/Spirit. I allowed Mother Nature to support my process, and she was totally there for me—in the form of the gentle and calming presence of deer right outside my doorstep. Along with shamanic medicine, storytelling and dreamwork, and after 10 days of deep inner work, I felt cleansed, renewed, and saw clearly exactly where I was in my journey. A fire ceremony helped to release what no longer was and what no longer served me, and sincere prayers calling in my new desires and planting new creative seeds. 

My tiny one-person cabin home in the forest during retreat
It was warm, light, and peaceful
During times of transition, let yourself be held by Mother Nature (and loved ones, too)
Sacred offering and ceremony tools that held space for my cocooning, re-wombing and re-birthing

Even after the time of cocooning, re-wombing and re-birthing, I wasn’t yet ready to birth it to the world, so I spent some months fulfilling temporary contracts in a completely different industry doing something that simply paid the bills. It felt supportive of my transition period and afforded me the space and distance to till the soil for new growth. I also felt called to pursue deeper and more advanced training in the healing arts with a teacher that I’ve known for years and whom I deeply love and respect. 

And I can share now near the completion of this 8-month sabbatical that the fruits from that growth came in true liberation of the heart, a deepening of my purpose, and a strengthening of the soul that I never would have predicted. These sweet and beautiful fruits are available to you, too, when you find yourself in times of transition where uncertainty and the unknown come knocking on your door. 

The Soul is the Boss

Sometimes growth is about digging deeper roots, not just climbing new heights. On the journey to growing your business or leadership career, it’s okay to feel lost and confused. It’s okay to take space and grieve, evaluate and rest, until you’re ready to begin again. 

The new face/phase of my business and body of work has begun to make itself known to me, and soon it will make itself visible to the rest of the world. It feels much more aligned and authentic to who I am now. 

No matter where you are in your journey, I encourage you to pay attention to the seasons of your soul’s journey, and listen deeply to the unique song of the soul of your business. What may work for another leader or entrepreneur may not work for you because it’s not true to your soul’s expression. The best way to tune into your soul’s expression is by tracking your own emotional landscape as you go about your business and pay attention when something feels “off”. And then, listen

It had to take me getting really lost in the dark (and in other people’s dreams, maps, plans, formulas, etc.) in order to find my way back again. Truly, the journey of life presents us with a series of missteps and wrong turns—but with every crossroad, we grow. We grow deeply and more fully into our authentic selves, and this is the greatest gift you can give to the world through your business and leadership. 

My 2019 Gift to You: A Meditation on Blessing the Changes in Your Business

I’m excited to re-connect with you in 2019 and share new teachings and offerings in the coming months. In the meantime, it’s my joy and honour to share a meditation that I first created for a client, then felt inspired to share with everyone as a gift. 

As a leader and entrepreneur, your business, just like your body, just like life, just like Mother Nature, goes through seasons and stages. Some changes and transitions are harder to navigate than others, but if you can bless them and bring the spirit of gratitude and acknowledge to all that is going on around you, you’ll be better equipped to navigate the changes with clarity, wisdom and grace. 

I’d love to hear how this meditation was for you. If this is hitting home for you and you’d like to chat about what’s really going on in your business, I invite you to schedule a 30-minute clarity call with me here.

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