Transcript: Sabbatical 101: How I’m Prepping for 30 Days Away from My Business

May 31, 2022

AMY PORTERFIELD: “Sometimes your business can feel like a drug that you're addicted to and, you know, you need that hit every day—like, give me that hit—because this is where I get the adrenaline rush; this is where I get my approval—I'm not proud of this. I'm just telling the truth—this is where I feel most important and in the zone is in my business. And it is very hard for me to fully relax. Like, I could sit down and read a chapter of a book and be good. But if we're getting into a few hours of not doing anything, that is very weird to me, and I start thinking, ‘What's wrong? What needs to be fixed? Where do I need to be to help out?’ It's not necessarily totally healthy. I don't necessarily know how to fully let go. So this is an experiment of fully letting go, and I think it's going to be very good for my mental health.” 

INTRO: I’m Amy Porterfield, ex-corporate girl turned CEO of a multi-seven-figure business. But it wasn't all that long ago that I lacked the confidence, the budget, and the time to focus on growing my small-but-mighty business. Fast forward past many failed attempts and lessons learned, and you'll see the business I have today, one that changes lives and gives me more freedom than I ever thought possible, one that used to only exist as a daydream. I created the Online Marketing Made Easy podcast to give you simple, actionable, step-by-step strategies to help you do the same. If you're an ambitious entrepreneur, or one in the making, who's looking to create a business that makes an impact and a life you love, you're in the right place, friend. Let's get started. 

AMY: So, I have a little homework for you. I want you to head to your favorite podcast-listening platform; search for the podcast Success Story, hosted by Scott D. Clary; and start listening. Success Story is a new podcast obsession for me; and it features Q&A sessions with successful business leaders; keynote presentations; and conversations on sales, marketing, business, and entrepreneurship. Scott recently spoke with a guest about the importance of socially conscious entrepreneurship, and I love that conversation. This is such an important topic right now, so be sure to check out that specific episode, for sure. You can listen to Success Story wherever you get your podcasts. 

Hey, there, friend. Welcome back to Online Marketing Made Easy. I wanted to check in and see how you're doing.  

So I, for one, am very excited to be here because I'm going to talk about something that's been on my mind for the past four years, and I'm finally doing it: I'm taking a sabbatical. The word sabbatical seems so fancy, so luxurious, a little over the top. But I have to use it because I'm not just taking a little mini vacation; I'm genuinely taking a sabbatical, a whole thirty days to rest, recharge, have some fun, and spend quality time with my friends and my family, and I could not be more excited.  

Now, if you know me, you know that I'm hyper organized and overprepared and, let's face it, a little bit of a worrier. So you're probably wondering, how on earth, of all people, would I be able to not only get in the right state of mind to let go for such a long period of time, but actually leave my business for an entire month? Well, you're in luck because I'm going to share exactly what I'm doing to prep for the thirty days away, and actually, I don't know if it's exactly thirty days. It might even be a little bit more. It's the last week of May and then about three and a half weeks in June. So a little bit of May, most of June. So I'm going to share with you how I prepared to take this sabbatical.  

And then, when I come back from the sabbatical, I'm going to do a Shorty episode like this and talk about how it went, because I don't think it's going to be all smooth sailing. Let's just be real about this. It's going to be—I know it's going to be a little bit tough to ease into it. So I want to share kind of like what happened, what worked, what didn't, so the next time I do it, I do it better. And, hopefully, if you ever want to do it, you can learn from my experience.  

So I've been thinking a lot about you lately—before we get into everything—I've been thinking about you, my listener, and I've been paying attention to what seems to be some of the biggest pain points for you. And one that keeps coming up is content creation and the struggle around planning, organizing, and creating content. And I get it. The struggle is real, but I'm here to help you get clarity and ease so that you can keep sharing your message with the world and leaning into your purpose.  

So before I get into all things sabbatical, I wanted to let you know that I created a free three-month plug-and-play content-calendar template. So it allows you to map out your upcoming content in a really easy—dare I say it?—fun way. So I created a content-calendar template years ago, and because it was so popular, I decided it was high time I revamped it and made it better. So I've updated it. So you'll love this updated version because not only does it allow you to seamlessly plan out what content goes out and when it goes out, but it also allows you to plan out your social content. So not just, like, your blog or podcasts or videos, but social content as well. And I personally think having it all in one spot makes repurposing of content so much easier.  

So all you need to do is head to So that URL is a little bit different than normal, but it's going to send you exactly where you need to go. So go to—so the hashtag symbol—contentcalendar. Okay? So that's where you need to go. Do not wait, because you're going to love this. The updated version’s incredible., or just click on the episode description wherever you're listening to this podcast and you'll see a link to get my updated three-month plug-and-play, totally free, content-calendar template. 

Okay. So let’s go ahead and dive into all things sabbatical.  

First of all, I wanted to do this for years and years and years, meaning do a sabbatical. And then four years ago, I committed to actually making it happen. I was inspired to do this. In fact, Michael Hyatt was the first entrepreneur that I ever watched take a one-month sabbatical, and he's been doing this for years and years. And I always admired that he actually can make this happen. He's got a thriving, huge business with a really great team, and he was able to walk away, and I thought, “Okay. I want to do that.”  

And taking a sabbatical, it truly did sound foreign to me, like something that only people in, like, academia do. Like, the word sabbatical was weird to me, and it wasn't something that I saw many entrepreneurs or small-business owners do. But after seeing how much Michael has gotten from it personally and professionally—like, he shared with me the growth in it and all the rest and rejuvenation that came from it—I was motivated to do it. And I find it fascinating that by completely disconnecting from your business for an extended period of time, you end up coming back with so much more energy and creativity and innovation. And that's really what he shared with me, and I thought, again, “I want that.”  

So Michael actually had a really great blog post about his experience taking sabbaticals that I want to link up to in the show notes, because that's essentially where I started with the idea and kind of wrapping my head around what it would look like for me. And honestly, I know that I'm going to get so much from this sabbatical that I'm taking. But I also know that if I don't fully prepare for a month away from my business, I'll just be consumed by my own thoughts when I'm supposed to be living in the moment. So I do think prep is important for this, not just to get all your ducks in a row strategically for the business, but to allow your mind to let go when you actually do it.  

That being said, even though I'm not kicking off my sabbatical until the last week of May, I actually started planning for it back in November. So I wanted to alert my team way in advance so that they could really wrap their head around, “Oh, we've never done this without Amy in the day to day,” and I wanted them to start about how we're going to schedule the promos, what they need from me in advance, how they're going to make things happen without necessarily me jumping into a few of the different things I typically jump into, because I can't possibly do all the work that I would normally do throughout the month of May—or June—in the month of, let's say, May. So we had to cut bait on some things, and I think that's important to know as well. 

 On the same note, anything that I needed to do, like social-media videos, reels, podcast episodes, we did need to batch all of that, record it in advance, stockpile all of what we needed so we'd have a full arsenal of content while I'm out. Because what I wasn't okay with is just, like, we're shutting down the business for a month. June, July, August, they're important prelaunch-runway times for Digital Course Academy, and I still felt that was important that we did what we typically do. So I'm constantly reminding my team right now, as we're leading up to it, to, you know, get any recording requests into me ASAP and anything that I'm going to need to review in advance. They really had to think in advance. And because I care about my team immensely, I didn't want my sabbatical to be a huge stressor for them. Like, “Get all your work in a month and a half in advance because I need to know what you need from me.” Like, I didn't want that. So starting the conversation back in November actually helped us immensely. I didn't want to be overwhelmed in the last few weeks, and I didn't want my team to have to be as well. So, starting early, really important. 

Another thing is that my executive assistant, Christine, the two of us have been really mindful about this. We've looked at my schedule leading up to the sabbatical. Again, I don't want to work myself to death last weeks of May so that when I get into that last week of May, where I start my sabbatical, I didn't want to be, like, literally comatose. So we've been mindful about the calendar leading up to it.  

We've also been really considerate about what's going on after I get back. So how am I easing back into things? What does that look like? What do the first few days look like so that I'm not, like, thrown back into the fire?  

And by the way, if the thought of a sabbatical gets you excited, but you're like, “Amy, I don't really have a big team. I don't have an executive assistant right now to manage my whole calendar,” you can still get organized without one, so I'm going to talk about that. So give me a moment.  

Okay. So I did tell my team in advance. We did start looking at the calendar. We did plan our promotions around this so we're not promoting anything in June. And I did speak with my executive assistant. We worked on this together.  

So I wanted to also quickly address a couple things that might be helpful for you if, let's say, you are still in a nine-to-five job, and you really want to take a sabbatical. Maybe you can't take four weeks, but maybe you want to take two weeks, and that's longer than you've ever taken. And I just want to help you get really clear on how to make it happen. So Michael actually talks about these things in that article I referenced. I’m going to link to it in the show notes. But I want to recap a few things. 

First, taking a sabbatical does take a few financial resources and a bit of planning, and you want to make sure that you have that squared away before you go, because there's nothing worse than worrying about the bills getting paid while you're trying to disconnect, right? So you could potentially take a little bit of a financial hit if you have a small team, and it's really just you with a few contractors. You stepping out could mean you make a little less money, but you have to decide, but is it worth it? And, hopefully, it is. Hopefully, money is not the only driver here. But I know that that's easier said than done, and I respect that. Some of you listening are like, “Amy, I just can't possibly take a hit in revenue, and I don't have a situation where I can step away that long,” and I respect that. And maybe a few years down the road you'll be in a place that it does make sense. But I want to plant the seed now because this seed has been planted with me for years until I actually made it happen.  

Okay. Second, you most likely will have to get approval from your boss, right, if you're in a nine-to-five job. And unfortunately, taking a sabbatical is not something that's widely accepted in many corporate settings. That's why I said maybe it's not going to be four weeks or more for you. Maybe two weeks is a stretch, and you're going to try to go for that. I like just starting where you can. 

But here's one angle that Michael suggested in that article. When you go and ask your boss about taking time off and you explain how they as an employer will benefit from your time away, that could be really valuable. So will you come back more productive? more driven to accomplish your goals? more creative? These are all great things for employers to consider, and you never know. They could be more receptive to it than you thought. So, you know, just kind of explore your options here. But I just didn’t, for all my nine-to-fivers, I didn’t want to take this concept completely off the table. And if you're not ready for something like this, I want to plant the seed so that you do move toward it.  

Like, let's say you're in a nine-to-five job right now, and you think, okay, when I do go fully out on my own, I'm going to bake in a month-long sabbatical—let’s say in the summer—from day one. I wish I had the courage to do this from year one. But that would take a lot of courage. I don't think it's easy. But you guys are ballers. There's some ballers out there that are like, “No, I'm going to make that happen.” I'll be impressed when you do, because I think it's doable. It just takes courage.  

So just some thoughts if you're in a nine to five and kind of how to think about this and navigate around it.  

But now for the fun part: what the heck I'm doing for a month and how I'm feeling about it. So I'm excited and equally nervous about my time away. And I'm nervous because I don't want it to be taxing on the team. I'm nervous that, quite honestly, the number one thing that has me kind of freaked out a little bit is, will I mentally be able to do it? Will—you know, sometimes your business can feel like a drug that you're addicted to and, you know, you need that hit every day—like, give me that hit—because this is where I get the adrenaline rush; this is where I get my approval—I'm not proud of this. I'm just telling the truth—this is where I feel most important and in the zone is in my business. And it is very hard for me to fully relax. Like, I could sit down and read a chapter of a book and be good. But if we're getting into a few hours of not doing anything, that is very weird to me, and I start thinking, “What's wrong? What needs to be fixed? Where do I need to be to help out?” It's not necessarily totally healthy. I don't necessarily know how to fully let go. So this is an experiment of fully letting go, and I think it's going to be very good for my mental health. And it’s really a challenge, challenging myself.  

Now, those are the reasons why I'm nervous. I'm excited because I think I'll come back even better. I really do. And when I come back, it will be July. And so we've got all of July and August, and we're going to be in pre-launch for Digital Course Academy, my biggest launch of the year, because we open the cart early in September. Usually it's later; this time it's earlier. So I know I'm going to feel more recharged and excited, more creative. I think I'll be more in the flow. And I just—and remember, that was one of my words for 2022. So I want to come back even better. And it's coming back at a perfect time for me to dive in and be excited about DCA.  

I'm also excited because I said, you know, we're kicking this off the last week of May, and that's because Chloe, you know, my former right hand, is getting married, and I'm in her wedding. We are so excited about this. So I get to kick off things in Mexico, at a really fun wedding. 

And then, the next three weeks, we are going to spend most of it at my lake house. So I've talked about this before, but the first property we bought in Nashville was actually a fixer-upper lake house, about an hour and a half outside of Nashville. And I first learned about this because Michael and Gayle Hyatt have a property there. They told me about it. They invited Hobie and I there. We fell in love. The lakes in the South are very different from Southern California.  

So I, of course, grew up in Southern California. We went to the lake all the time, but we went to, like, Lake Mead, which is near Vegas. And you look around and it's desolate. Like, it's the desert. So the lake isn't very beautiful at all.  

Well, in the South, what I learned is you get on your boat and you drive around this lake, and everything is lush green that covers the lake. Like, it's the border of the lake is just this gorgeous, lush green, these big trees and planters and all of that. And I love it. So that was new to me.  

Hobie and I got this really old, used wakeboard boat. So we have a boat, we have a few toys there at the lake, and it is getting renovated. And it's supposed to be done May 1, but of course, now we heard the date June 3. And then I just heard that some of our stairs in the house aren’t going to be done ‘til mid-June. So that's kind of a bummer. The house isn't going to be totally ready. And of course, due to COVID, all of our furniture has been delayed.  

I’m going to make the best of it. We are going to have beds. We're going to have at least one couch. We're just going to make the best of this. And most of the renovation will be done, and I'm going to spend most of June at the lake, reading books. We have this big fireplace that was built on our deck. I'm going to be sitting on that deck with the fireplace on at nighttime. We have a record player. I've never had a record player, so we got all these really fun records. We’re going to play music. And I got paddleboards for my birthday. Gosh, this is way more than I typically share about weird stuff like this, but I can't wait to get on the paddleboard, so that's that. So we are spending most of the time at the lake, and I'm really excited for that.  

So that's it. But what I'm most excited about is the fact that I'm not spending that sabbatical at my home, because the reason I felt it was important to go to the lake house even though it's not totally renovated yet is that I am very afraid, and I don't trust myself, that if I'm here in my Nashville home, just kind of taking it easy, there is no way that I'm not kind of finding myself texting my team, maybe tinkering in my office. I just can't help it. And although I don't love to admit that, what I will say is I love my business. I love all of you. I love what I get to do. And it feels like home to me. And I know that I am not my business, and my results do not reflect who I am or my value. I know that. But I also really enjoy it. So I don’t want to be inclined to work the whole time, so I got to get out of the actual house that we live in every day. 

And I have to say I have an accountability partner to make sure that this happens, and his name is Hobie Porterfield. So you know, when you think about taking a sabbatical, it's not just about you. It's also about your friends or family that get to be a part of it. And it's really fun because Hobie’s keeping me accountable. He's very excited that this is going to happen. And he's probably going to be kind of a grumpy bear if I don't make it happen, so it's happening.  

All right. So I hope this episode is helpful. I took you a little bit behind the scenes, shared with you what I'm doing with the sabbatical, why I'm doing it, what I'm nervous about. But more importantly, I hope it has you inspired. I hope that you're thinking, “You know what? Maybe I could do this, and maybe I could do it way earlier than Amy. Amy's thirteen years in. She's taking her first sabbatical. But maybe I could do it a whole lot earlier.” And friend, you can. And please do, because it was fear that kept me from doing this. That's all. It just was fear.  

Okay. So if you are thinking about this, maybe do a little journaling today or tonight or tomorrow, like, where would you go? How would you spend your time? Most importantly, what would the experience bring you professionally and personally? That's a great journal prompt. Remember, we're very much into journaling around here. Journal about your potential sabbatical, and then maybe write down when you want it to happen. Even if it's a year or two down the road, let’s put it out into the universe. 

All right, my friend. If you want to take a sabbatical and if you figured out where you'd want to go, will you DM me on Instagram and just tell me? Say, “Okay, Amy. I want to take my sabbatical in a year from now, and I want to go to Greece,” or whatever that might be. I'm @amyporterfield on Instagram. The best way to reach me is through DMs. I can't possibly get back to everyone, but I sure do try. DM me and tell me where you want to take your sabbatical and when you're going to take it.  

All right, my friends. This is a little bit of a longer Shoryt episode. I like to get them under fifteen minutes, but had a lot to share with you.  

So thank you so much for tuning in. I cannot wait to see you again later this week. Have a great one. 

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