Episode 148: I’m Taking a Sabbatical and It’s Not What You Think

December 5, 2022


Do you ever feel like you’re being hit over the head with something time and again, and you just keep ignoring it because it’s not how you planned to attack that particular area of your life? Because it feels too difficult or maybe too unconventional or too crazy?

That’s been my life for the last four months. I’ve been having all these wild signs and messages directly under my nose; so much so that I couldn’t ignore it anymore. But it doesn’t mean that it felt natural. It’s been kind of an unearthing and painful evolution.

So today, I’m sharing something that I never could have imagined sharing – I am taking a sabbatical. But it’s not what you think. I’m not falling off the face of the earth, this is not a vacation. So if you’re curious about what this sabbatical is, how I intend to do it and why, or if it sounds either dreamy or absolute lunacy to you – this is the episode for you.


[2:24] Getting Clear the Right Way

Whenever I come to the close of pregnancy (I’m getting there right now) my version of nesting is getting everything done in my business. I naturally ramp it up, I start creating new things, I get into mega action mode. I batch my work, I get ahead and I plan for what it’s going to look like after the baby comes. So, when I naturally started leaning into that tendency and life started pushing back, I was kind of confused. But then little by little, God started to place the right people and messages into my path to open my heart to considering another avenue forward outside of the frantic action and that feeling of productivity that I was leaning into in my past three pregnancies. 

When everything starts to pile up and you get overwhelmed, the tendency is to lean into productivity in the hopes of getting more done more quickly. But oftentimes, that’s a missed opportunity to slow down and get clear so that you can ultimately speed up the right way. This is what I preach when it comes to frantic action. But admittedly, it’s not always what I practice.

[3:53] Gauntlet of Fire 

There’s a form of leadership that operates a little differently. It’s the kind of leadership that allows you to get into that flyover zone of your business and your life more often, ensuring that it actually all aligns. So, instead of productivity for productivity’s sake, it’s actually intentional and it’s driving you towards the long term vision.

Coming out of the most recent retreat of our Luminary Leadership Incubator, I noticed a common thread – all of the entrepreneurs there had their own version of where they ultimately wanted to go or felt called to go. And the realization across the board was that what got them here, won’t get them there. And what stands between them and their vision is this gauntlet of fire that they have to walk through that they don’t really want to walk through because it’s hard, or it goes against how they naturally operate. Each and every member was facing their own gauntlet that was requiring them to operate and believe and see things differently. There had to be an evolution to access that thing they wanted. That’s why so few people ever really break through to their full potential. It’s so not aligned with how they’ve always done it, but that is kind of the point. 

It’s not just the strategies and the tactics, although that’s a part of it. It’s that the version of you that successfully brought you to where you stand right now is not really the version of you that’s going to break through to that 10x level of possibility for you. I’m not talking about a little bit of incremental improvement, I’m not talking about simple little changes. I’m talking about epic growth based on a vision or a calling. If you want to be in freedom and possibility and your strategy to get there is to keep frantically creating and hoping that someday it gets you somewhere different, there is a lack of congruence there. There should be some options put on the table that can facilitate a level of 10x growth and possibility and that’s not going to be accessed by doing the same thing over and over and over again.

[12:27]  What’s in Your Gauntlet?

So I’m asking you, what’s in your gauntlet? Identify where you are today, identify where you really, really want to go, let your mind go wild and wake up. Are you doing what’s required to get there or are you playing defense and keeping yourself stuck by maintaining what already is?

For me, in order to become the next level leader that I need to be, to carry this really hefty mission forward, I am being called to a sabbatical. And even though my days are currently full of work, this sabbatical would force me out of that work into that flyover zone in order to truly map out and cast vision and create a plan for what’s next. And that was so scary to me. The idea of slowing or stopping all the busy made me immediately assume I’m going to fall behind. But fall behind on what? On a mediocre version of my vision that I was trying to preserve, instead of having the courage to explore what’s really meant for me?  

That’s the thing, sometimes we’re trying to preserve something not even worth preserving, when what we really want is just a few shifts away. So you’re still going to hear from us on the podcast, you’re still going to hear from us on our email list, but we’re doing things very strategically and in a very visionary-leader kind of way. So, in December – I’m totally off social media. That is part of my sabbatical, and despite the fact that at first it felt like I was making a reckless move, it totally dawned on me that this was THE move. This was the missing link. That not choosing this was what was holding me back from having space to take us into the next level by choosing to stay on that hamster wheel, but convincing myself that I’m being productive. We lose so much time doing the things that are maintaining what is, instead of pursuing the things that we really are being called to. And this entire sabbatical concept is mirroring that example. This is not vacation for me. This is a leadership opportunity. This isn’t just a few months off, this is exactly what’s required to break through that gauntlet that we’re currently facing as a company and that I’m personally facing as a leader. 

What we want is really clear and what we’ve been doing is not what’s going to allow us to access it. So we have to change course. We’re exploring other options, we’re asking questions and making tough decisions that feel really scary and really risky. Only to realize that they’re actually the key to the successes we really want. They’re the choices that unlock the potential. My sabbatical is birthed from the realization that, for over 10 years, I’ve been learning the power of visionary leader work, but now facing that gauntlet of realizing that it’s time to go all in on it. And truthfully, I needed to be shoved lovingly over that edge, because my mind has gone to every reason why this is riskier than it is good. I’m actively, consciously detoxing my old ways to become who I need to be to carry us to the other side. But I’ve had help. 

[16:34]  Signs Along the Way 

So over these last few months, the right people, messages and opportunities have been placed in my path, to help me see that this is the answer. And because I was so resistant to it, every time one of these signs would kind of come into my path, I would just blow it off.

I want to share some of the signs I had along the way. The first thing was one of my dear friends, Monica and her husband Jeff shared that they felt called to work alongside Michael and I, and help us essentially 10x things. But to do it in a way that was very much in alignment with long term growth, residual and passive income, and way more freedom of time. That was something God placed on their hearts. So we started working with them. And we were having a conversation one day where Jeff said: “You need to take a pause. You need to take a step back, so that you can take 1000 steps forward.” And he started presenting me with what it could look like over a month or two of taking this sabbatical and giving myself the space to create, innovate and see things differently. 

Then, our nanny (who we love, love, love) told us that she was being called into another career path and would be leaving. And my husband and I were devastated. But soon, we both had this overwhelming calm of “this is what we’re being called to, we’re being called into a season of family, being present, figuring it out and breaking the rigidity of 40 hour work weeks and structure and just allowing God to show the path as we take the step.” 

Obviously, this is also all happening as we are soon welcoming a baby. 

On top of that, we got guests on our podcasts like Shanna Skidmore, who got totally off of social media years ago and she’s been off since 2017, and is growing a successful business. And that space allowed her to take a leap into stratospheric levels of success that she couldn’t have accessed had she just kept going the way she was going. Then we had Abbey on the podcast not too long ago, where she shared about taking a sabbatical. And I’m not talking about maternity leave, I’m talking about a sabbatical. It’s very purposeful. It’s not a vacation, it’s a leadership move. 

And then my team member, Emily, who I adore, reached out to me saying she feels God is telling me to really protect my time, that going into December and January I really shouldn’t be taking calls and interviews, even if it could move the needle right now, that’s not the long term play. 

So I had all these things hitting me. And then the cherry on top was my mom saying that it’s time for me to slow down, to just be in this season with my family and allow the creativity to come to me and stop trying to manufacture it. 

[23:24] What Will This Look Like? 

So, I want to share a little bit about what this sabbatical could look like for me, and also where I can anticipate my struggle with it. 

My nature already is to plan it out in detail. What will my morning routine be? And when will I do my whiteboarding sessions for creativity? And what’s our homeschool calendar? And what will I create specifically? And what offers and what are the deadlines? And how will I incorporate my team? That’s where my mind is being pulled. And I can already tell I need to detox this because this is not how this sabbatical is intended to go. My gauntlet is challenging me to break out of that and to really use this time to access my next level of potential as a leader. 

So, no new calls or new client connections happening during this time. No podcast interviews, no other interviews, no email, no social media, no slack, no scheduled commitments aside from my Incubator. We’re actually going up to our cabin to be in an inspirational place out of our home. Because the other thing that I could see myself doing is cleaning my whole house,  reorganizing and repackaging everything, doing all the laundry and just replacing one drug with another.

We’re giving ourselves the space to see what comes and to dream and to create a new vision that goes beyond what I can even see at this point today, and time with family without an agenda, and just reconnection and slower mornings, and opportunities to have a day of rest. Because that can be really powerful too. 

And although I know there’s a lot that will come that I can’t anticipate right now and I’m embracing that, my goal is to share that with my email list. So if you’d like to follow along and see how it’s going, make sure you go to because that’s where you can get behind the scenes of everything.

I hope today’s episode helps you think about “what is your gauntlet?”. This is a new season that will walk us into a season we couldn’t have otherwise accessed had I not been willing to step into this.

And if this episode spoke to you, make sure to subscribe and leave us a review! Come connect with me on Instagram at @elizhartke! If there’s a topic, a question or a guest you want to hear on the show, just reach out and share that. We do this for you so the more you tell us, the more we can serve.


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