Episode 150: Putting Family 1st as an Entrepreneur (and Why a Sabbatical Might Be the Answer in Certain Seasons) with Abbey Kyhl

December 19, 2022


This has led me down the path of exploring the idea of really shifting gears and leaning into a season of rest, creativity and not being in the weeds. 

Anytime I’m encountering a new way of pursuing something I haven’t done yet, I reach out to people that I know have gone there before me and figured it out, people who have had the courage to take the steps that I haven’t yet taken myself. And that’s what brought me to Abbey Kyhl.

Abbey is someone that I completely admire and she is here today to talk about her choice to take a sabbatical from her business and to really take space, and be present in a season of life when her kids really needed her. So today’s conversation is truly beautiful. I asked some really pressing questions and Abbey was incredibly vulnerable and willing to share all the little back-end details of what it looks like to listen to your heart and take a step back.


[4:09] Making a Choice 

Right now Abbey is in a transitional season of her business and her life. As a mom of three, she is redefining what work looks like for her. 

There’s this kind of epidemic in entrepreneurship where we feel like we always have to be on the up and up in a very specific way and if we take a pause or take a breather, then we worry about falling behind. But Abbey was brave enough to do just that. 

Abbey owned a photography studio that was super busy and successful but within the first five years, she became what she refers to as a “hot mess express”. Pretty soon she came to a realization that if certain things don’t work for her family, then they don’t work for her business as well. So, over time she has taken small steps to be more in line with what worked for her family, especially her kids. She stopped working on the weekends, and eventually she gave up teaching her mastermind in order to help her son with online school. She realized she had a choice to not just survive a season, but to thrive in it as a family. She realized that even though she was amazing in doing her work, it came with an emotional, mental and physical burden. So, she decided to define what work meant. 

[15:57] Season of Rest

We do have a choice. That’s one of the things that we forget because we get into such a rhythm of building and creating and going and setting goals that we completely neglect the truth that we really do have a choice. We fail to keep a pulse on our lives and realize that we have so much more autonomy in how we approach things. I work with people every day who are just drowning in life, who’ve built chains around themselves through the business that they thought was going to be their access vehicle to freedom for them and their families. 

Sometimes when we’re called into these seasons of rest, it’s because we can’t access that next level of possibility or even see clearly as to what it might be when we’re head down the to-do list, doing the work every single day.

This season of transition didn’t come without challenges for Abbey, but she was able to navigate through that by taking a step back and realizing what truly matters. She was able to set better boundaries for herself and her business and she realized that one thing she needed most was peace. She had to reevaluate what it looks like to still be busy, to still be thriving but to feel peace every day. As entrepreneurs, we often forget what it feels like to be at peace, because we’re just going and doing all the time. But sometimes, you need to stop and ask yourself: What of this work is even important or necessary? Is this even serving us very well? And do we have to keep doing it?

Another thing that this transitional period brought to Abbey was this “season mentality”. She now realizes that just because something works for a particular season, it doesn’t mean it works for another season. And we can’t be afraid to let it go, whether that’s in our homes or with our children, or in our businesses. Everything does have a season, and nothing lasts forever. And it shouldn’t, especially if you’re an entrepreneur.

[27:48]  Ego, Identity and Joy 

For Abbey, this time was all about making space for what’s next and being able to seek wisdom in that process and in that space.

She believes that one of the biggest things that we really have to navigate and we have to consider and we have to be willing to face is how much of our ego and our identity is wrapped up in our business. Because in the early stages of her sabbatical, she really had to deal with the perception other people might have of her if she was no longer involved in her business. Unfortunately, she realized that for a lot of people there was nothing left –  there was nothing she had that they wanted and she had to be okay with it. And that was hard. It was hard to see relationships she had viewed as friendships that really weren’t friendships at all.

Another really important thing she rediscovered is doing things for no other reason but joy. Abbey shares that she hasn’t read a fiction book in 15 years, since she first started her business, because she would only read self-help books, business books, personal development books, always trying to get better and learn more. In the year she took her sabbatical she read over 100 fiction books and she explains it as soul filling. Even now, when she is back in her work in some capacity, she still finds time to read, do embroidery or simply look out the window at people passing by. We have so much time to do things, develop and grow businesses but sometimes we just really lose sight of that. 

[40:24]  A Business That Works for Your Family 

I know a lot of us are suffering from not having permission to gain that space and that clarity and I feel like this conversation gives us that permission and gives us a lot of perspective. We have time and not everything has to constantly be about growth. Having rest seasons of just slowing down and having more space is such a gift. And it’s not just a gift to us, it’s a gift to our family. The time with our kids is so fleeting. In Abbey’s own words: There are plenty of other coaches out there, or other consultants out there, but my kids only have one mom. You are going to deeply impact their future and their connections to other people and their future impact on the world, so make sure that you’re building a business that works for your family. 

I hope today’s episode helps you gain perspective and shift things around so that you build a business that allows for those seasons of rest and that whitespace – a business that works with your family.

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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