How to Take a Digital Sabbatical

Aug 2, 2010

I’m taking a Digital Sabbatical for the month of August.

Also a coaching-talking-traveling-teaching sabbatical.

Picture me bouncing around my studio with happiness and glee… and fear and trembling.

Fear and trembling.

What am I afraid of?

The idea that is stalking me.

It’s huge, it’s lofty, it makes my stomach clench or rather, I clench my stomach when I think of it.

It does not make my bowels turn to water so hey, that’s a positive.

I know that for this idea to get some traction, to see if we can make something together, I need big swathes of time.

During a writing retreat in April (a gift from the amazing Fetzer Institute), I unplugged and I wrote the entire Satisfaction Finder in that week. So I know unplugging works for me.

Maybe Nicholas Carr is right?

From the comments on my Facebook announcement about unplugging, you might think I’m taming a lion while bungee jumping while debating climate change with Sarah Palin. As in, people are like, “Really! A whole month!”

Hence this post about how to do it, if you should care to join me.

But wait a cotton picking minute, isn’t blogging being on line?

A Digital Sabbatical – just like any form of creative and spiritual renewal – needs clear Conditions of Enoughness that you determine.

Or there are no Digital Sabbatical police.

What there are is your desires. Why do you want to unplug? What do you need?

To create COE’s for your Digital Sabbatical start by journaling for 5 minutes, keeping your hand moving, exploring the question: Why do I want to unplug?and What do I need?

Then look for what you want – what emerges as a few clear desires? – and set clear COE’s.

Remember the four elements of COE’s:

  1. Name what is enough in simple facts.
  2. Include a time element.
  3. Ensure they’re dependent on ONLY YOU on an AVERAGE day.
  4. Declare you are satisfied when your conditions are met—even if you don’t feel satisfied

Here’s my process edited for brevity’s sake:

I am unplugging because:

I need to come into honest relationship with this new idea. Only then can I ask, “Will this be of service to you?” I need space to hear my own heart first.

I need to stop distracting myself (by checking email, Comfort Cafe forums, Twitter) from this terrifying new idea. I need to rewire my brain to go deep.

I need to dive deep into thinking and learning – to have space to “the confidence to explore new forms of expression, to blaze difficult and demanding paths of thought, to venture into uncharted and sometimes hazardous territory” to quote Carr, without knowing what will come of it..

My Conditions of Enoughness for Unplugging:

From August 1st to September 1st.

No email – if you email my private address, you will get a lovely message telling  you I’m off line until September 1st and your message will be deleted. But wait, what if Oprah calls? I give my phone number in that email. Yes, gasp, you can call me if you need me. I might not answer but you can get hold of me. Remember life before email?

No Twitter. Susan, my Comfort Cafe Barista, will tweet on my behalf a tad, to keep Cafers reminds of the juicy stuff going on with Lisa Rough, creative coach, and our leader for August. I deleted Tweetdeck from dashboard so I won’t automatically go check.

No Facebook – except once a day if I have a blog post to briefly respond to.

Comfort Cafe – 30 minutes a day on the forums and content. Using a timer.

No clients, no calls, no appointments (other than personal), no radio shows, no retreats, no commitments.

That’s a lot of COE’s on what I won’t do. What will I do?

Morning ritual (yoga, meditation)

Write 2 hours on the idea

Blog post if it feels right. I blog to understand myself.  Part of what is happening to me is an unbranding of myself for myself (more on that to come). To help that be fully realized, I need to do it in community. I hope to do it in a way that is of service to you.  However, blogging can also lead me to try and make things neat, polished, known. If that starts to happen, I will stop blogging, for the day or the month. It must be real, honest, and serve my process.

Play~ art making, doodle romps in the woods, hanging with Lilly, Bob, gardening, making healthy nourishing meals, following my desires by asking, “What do I want?” enjoying my retreat with my Brain Trust later this the month, being coached by Michele, reading, thinking, being.

As I write this, my heart is beating fast and I am wishing I could go check email or Twitter. Instead… it’s time to dive in…

To the unknown.

As Pat Woodall, who taught painting to my writer’s in Taos last week, says, “Art happens in the unknown.”

Many good things, certainly all new things, do.

Here I go.

Wish me honesty, courage, and low expectations.

Links: The Satisfaction Finder, Nicholas Carr, Fetzer, Pat Woodall,

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