It’s ten months since my post on insomnia, and here I am, at 4.07am writing my blog. But this morning feels like a very different place to September 2016. It’s Summer, the pale blue of morning is lightening the sky and I’m reflecting on how it feels to have been offered a job.
From the 1st of August (one year to the day that I began my sabbatical), I will be working at the University of Nottingham on employability education projects in their faculty of Health Sciences. The job is a 50% contract, which means that the other 50% of my working week can be dedicated to yoga and writing my book – something I increasingly feel is very important.
But along with the sense of happiness (and some relief at the thought of having an income that I can predict) is a little sadness. What a wonderful year my sabbatical has been – can the upcoming one possibly be as good? In my 11 Months On post, I reflected on some of the things that I’ve done and achieved.
Perhaps here is a place for me to reflect on some of the things I’ve learned:
- My original plan was to test the idea that if you make a big space in your life, something good will come in and fill it. This seems so obvious to me now, that I wonder why I needed to test it out. But perhaps that’s an indication of my growing. When I left my job my life immediately filled with up yoga, cheese company work, freelance training, travel, work at Nottingham and the development of new and deeper friendships. I remember before my sabbatical, sketching out a schedule for how I might fill my days – an hour of Duolingo, two hours of music, an hour of blog writing, two hours of chores, two hours of painting, an hour of learning computer coding – fearful that no external options would be available. These things rarely happened as they were replaced with other work and adventures. Ironically, I think now that I have a job I want to dedicate more time to some of these things.
- I have a very useful ability to match my spending and even my desire for spending to my income. There were only a few occasions when I really missed having lots of money to spend. And when I did, I added the thing that I wanted to buy to a list, because I knew that at some point I would have money again and I would be able to look at the list and see if I still wanted to buy it.
- I’ve learned that a life spent in an unfulfilling job is a life wasted and that you usually have options, even if at the time you can’t possibly imagine what they might be.
- I’ve realised that I was a bit of a snob – I struggled to imagine how someone could live off less than £30k a year. Now that I’ve lived happily on much less than that, I know that I can do it again. This is an amazing gift to my future self.
- Perhaps related to this, I’ve learned that I don’t need to cram every hour with work in an attempt to earn more, more, more. It’s possible to turn down work if to take it would mean you have nothing left for yourself and the people you love. Perhaps this is why I am happy with my new 50% role – I’m maintaining a time-richness that just isn’t available with full-time work.
- I got to grips with not having an important-sounding job title. We tend to define ourselves by our job titles and whilst I still called myself a Yoga Teacher, when asked I would always explain about my sabbatical and all the other ways that I spent my time. After all, teaching yoga probably only amounted to about 15 hours a week (technically, I suppose I could even have signed on) so there was a whole lot of other time to be accounted for. Letting go of seeing yourself in terms of your job description might even mean that it is easier to move on from a role that no longer makes you happy. You’re not leaving your self behind – only a set of activities that you choose not to spend your time on any more. Describing yourself in terms of how you spend your time and the things that are important to you just feels nicer than saying a job title – and it makes for more interesting conversations at parties.