Back in the Fall of 2020, I made the decision to take a sabbatical to test out Coast FI starting at the end of January 2021.
The plan is to try out my ideal FI schedule now, which includes 10 to 20 hours of passion work, even though we have not reached our full FI number yet. The income generated through my passion work would thus allow me to cover my share of our average yearly family spending while allowing my investments to compound and hit my individual FI# sometime in my early 40s.
Although I planned to publish these monthly updates regularly, the second and third months of my Sabbatical to test Coast FI have already passed and I am just now, mid-fourth month getting around to publishing this one update for both. You’ll get a glimpse of what has been keeping me so busy over the last couple of months.
Overall, I can say that the last several weeks have helped reaffirm that taking this one year sabbatical from my 9 to 5 at this time was the right choice. So let’s get into it!
In order to immortalize these first few months into this sabbatical and share my experience with you, I’ll be doing monthly updates on how this experiment unfolds.
Here are the previous updates:
I’ll first begin with a quick rundown of what my weeks looked like. I’ll then do an overall reflection of the past month structured around the core values and activities that I want my financial independence to support: spending more quality time with family & friends, learning and pursuing my passions, and finding ways to incorporate a sense of adventure into our life.
If there is anything else you would like me to include or that you are curious about, please let me know in the comments below.
Week 5: Reflexions & Planning
As mentioned in my first update, I ended my first month of sabbatical realizing I had been feeling guilt and shame for not being productive every minute of every day. I therefore reflected on changes I could put in place to remove some of the additional pressure I had been putting on myself.
In light of these reflections, that week, I decided to only keep essential things on my schedule such as meetings with coaching clients. I spent more time around planning what I wanted March to look like. I also finished up decluttering the paper category and set up a lovely area to display our kids’ art.
Week 6: March break
Now this was a fun week with the kids at home for March break and Mr.Mod taking a couple of days off from work. We found creative ways to make the most of this time off by going tobogganing, camping in our basement and other activities that fit the constraints of the pandemic.
Business wise I felt that a more condensed schedule where I had only a few blocks of about 2 to 4 hours to dedicate to work at a time was helpful in allowing myself to truly disconnect during my off time. The fact that the kids were home was an added motivator for me to be truly present with them.
The greatest part of this is that I accomplished some big tasks that had been sitting on my list for a while despite dedicating less time to working. Turns out that I’m actually more focused and productive when I truly disconnect to recover during the times I’m not working. Seems I also had more energy to allocate to work when I was not wasting some of that precious brain space on feeling guilty about not being productive at all times.
Week 7: Collaboration time
With the kids back at school and daycare, I was able to get a lot more writing done during that week. With my energy and focus feeling refreshed for my business work, I felt ready to take on some new challenges. Jessica from The Fioneers and I met up to plan out some projects that would combine our various expertise to answer needs we have been noticing from our audiences.
I also finished off the communication course I had embarked on for the last several weeks. It was such a pleasure to invest this time, money and effort into learning skills that will contribute to my business’ success in the long run. I’ve already had the opportunity to put these to good use through some fun collaborations since then.
From a health perspective, I’d reached a point where I had more consistency in my exercising and even my nutrition. While I had enjoyed eating a paleo diet in the past, I decided to try experimenting with keto. I’m enjoying having this extra time and energy to think about my health which I’ve honestly been neglecting a bit through the pandemic.
Week 8: Hi, I’m Mel!
On the 8th week of my sabbatical, I finally managed to translate and get a post up on the blog. Furthermore, I had the pleasure of being invited by my friend Jessica for a Slow FI Coffee Date where we had a great discussion all about our first months as entrepreneurs, my sabbatical and the type of support that could help someone in making a big life change. You can listen to it by clicking here!
With the blog turning 4 that week, I took another big leap in terms of moving away from being an anonymous blogger. For the first time ever, I posted a picture of myself over on our instagram account:
As for my time beyond business work, unusually warm weather allowed me to move my exercising outside. This also gave us the opportunity to get the kids’ bikes ready for Spring at what is probably the earliest date yet.
Week 9: Storm brewing
To conclude my second month of sabbatical, while things were continuing at a good rhythm for my business, Covid cases had been alarmingly on the rise in our area. Despite having only one case in our son’s school since the start of the pandemic, 3 new cases had been confirmed at his school over the course of this short week. Fortunately none in his class bubble but things were definitely looking worrisome. I expected schools to go virtual any minute now.
I figured I should dedicate more than my regular 20 hours during this week to make progress on my business projects before then. That time is partly dedicated to launching a free tool for my readers who would like to get some financial clarity. This tool is particularly useful for anyone that would like to understand their net worth and FI numbers, figure out where they are along the FI journey and even estimate their approximate monthly spending.
If you want to check out this Financial Clarity Guide, fill-out the form below. By signing up in the form below to receive this guide, you’ll also be getting a copy of the accompanying Financial Clarity spreadsheet for your own use.
That being said, Friday of that week is a PD day for my son’s school so I keep both kiddoes home and we have a lovely work free day. I find myself being much better at disconnecting from the productivity guilt on this day and focus on very important lego & fort builds as you can see in this Instagram post.
Week 10: Productivity blitz
The first week of the third month of my sabbatical turned out to be very productive as I put more time into the business in preparation for potential school closures. Looking back, it was a good thing I did this as that is the week I published my last post on taking control of your finances with a positive approach. On Thursday, to my relief as cases keep increasing in our area, it is announced that schools are going virtual at least for the upcoming week.
The rest of my work time was dedicated to awesome sessions with my clients, building up the content for the course on Overcoming a scarcity mindset Jessica and I embarked on creating together. I also had the pleasure of being interviewed by Chrissy and Mechanic over at Explore FI Canada which was a lovely occasion to reflect back on the first couple of months of my sabbatical. Click here to listen to that interview.
As for family time, we have lovely weather for Easter and have both an indoor and outdoor Easter egg hunt for the kids. We make time for a lovely walk in the woods near our house for some energizing time near nature.
Week 11: Readjusting
As we enter our first week of virtual schooling, my objective is to focus on what is more immediate and pressing while leaving extra room to be present for our little one who is also adjusting to this change. Between that and watching the Covid cases keep increasing in our area, I find myself completely depleted by mid-week. I don’t like this feeling and decide to set aside time to brainstorm ways to reduce my stress in the meantime.
That reflection combined with the announcement that virtual schooling will continue at least for the following week leads me to decide to remove a few things off my list. I reach out to someone running a project in which I’m involved to discuss putting a pause on my part for a while and am met with a lot of understanding and compassion.
Week 12: Processing the stress
I’m feeling thankful for the readjustments I made the previous week. It allows for more space in my schedule to process the stress of these external circumstances.
It is no surprise that the virtual schooling is again extended for the upcoming week.
While I decide to put my strength and cardio training or any specific attempt at being more strict with my diet on hold, I shift my exercising and health focus to simply eating healthy 80% of the time and walking / biking with the kids more often. These turn out to be lovely ways of releasing some stress and the weather is truly on my side for this. Unfortunately the several pounds I lost on a few weeks of keto slowly start to return yet I’m surprisingly fine with it knowing other things need my attention right now.
Another fun stress reliever is having put up the fancy bird feeder I received as a collective family gift for my birthday (directly inspired by my friend Purple’s ecology preservation scheme).
Turns out that the seeds that fall to the ground attract a family of wild rabbits 😍.
Business wise, this is the week leading up to the launch of the Overcome Your Scarcity Mindset 3 class series Jessica and I have been working on through the previous month. We have a wonderful group of participants sign-up and I get lots of requests for a francophone version. Definitely a project for the future!
Psst, if you’re interested to be the firsts to find out more about these upcoming projects and my coaching in general, jump on my Info Coaching mailing list by entering your email in the form below. This is a complementary list to my regular newsletter, with more specific info for those interested in upcoming workshops, coaching program openings and more.
Week 13: Feeling lighter
The first week of our class is smooth and very fulfilling. We get wonderful feedback from our participants who seem to be getting so much out of the content we created for it! Seeing that direct impact from my work is a kind of high I need in my life.
I do get a bit of writing done for future posts but getting to this level of deep work with the kids around everyday is not easy. While the 6 year old is doing really great and showing a lot of autonomy, he still needs me for various things including company throughout the day when he’s not in his virtual classes so interruptions are frequent and totally fine by me.
In the end, this was one of the big factors that made me lean towards taking a sabbatical now : being available for the kids in these strange times. I decide I am okay with not putting pressure on myself to stick to any regular posting schedule for the blog for now, as long as I am maintaining some habit of writing.
This mindset combined with the progress of the vaccination campaign in our region and the number of new daily cases slowly starting to decrease have me feeling much lighter this week. Virtual schooling is again extended but I’m feeling good about the routine that we have in place by now and perhaps even a little hopeful at where the stats are headed for the end of April.
Reflexion around the Values and Activities that I want FI to support
Spending more quality time with family & friends
Oh how I look forward to the days where this paragraph does not begin with “okay this one is a little tricky with the constraints of a pandemic”! So again, these two months were all about spending quality time with my close family. We did not set up many zooms with my extended family nor with friends but I did make sure to call my grand-mother regularly. It’s been really hard on her to have to stay in her room all the time but she is a trooper and I think my calls to her are just as helpful to me as they are for her.
Looking back on these two months, I feel proud of how we made the most of our second Easter of celebrating just between the four of us and of how present I have been able to be through these 3 weeks of virtual schooling. I feel that I have done a great job at being present during my off-time and that the measures I’ve put in place to keep the productivity guilt at bay seem to be effective.
Learning and pursuing my passions
What a change in how I’ve approached learning and pursuing my passions in month 2 & 3 of my sabbatical compared to month 1. I’ve come a long way from that huge unrealistic list of things I wanted to get done in my business and have done better at organizing my list of priorities. I’m happy with how I was proactive with planning out my efforts with my projects and how I took a step back to reflect and readjust when the balance didn’t feel right.
I’ve got a lot of big things accomplished and many more ideas of projects for the future. With juggling having the kids at home and the stress of the pandemic, I found myself having less time than ideal to allocate to my business.
That being said, I’m still really proud of all I got done and the collaboration I took part of with my friend Jessica. It’s such a different feeling to want to have more time to focus on your work because you get so much enjoyment from it!
Incorporating a sense of adventure into our life
This is another area that has required some creativity in light of living through a global pandemic. Thankfully the lovely unusually warm Spring weather we’ve had has been helpful in incorporating a sense of adventure into our life these past couple of months.
Through numerous walks and bike rides, we’ve explored our neighborhood and a few trails in the nearby national park. I’ve been finding myself spending most of my days outside which has greatly helped with managing the numerous stressors of these past months.
Mr. Mod and I have also been experimenting with different set-ups for starting seeds indoors to get a head start for our garden this year. It might not seem like a big adventure yet for some reason finding ways to optimize how we grow some yummy veggies from our bare hands is both exciting and relaxing.
Ouf this ended up being a monster of a post, congrats (and thank you😊 ) if you’ve read all of it and made it to this conclusion!
Month 2 and 3 of my sabbatical felt much more balanced than the first month despite the unusual external factors at play. I do like how I was proactive to get more done business-wise during the second month and the opportunities that this led to in the third month.
Overall I’m feeling so thankful for the decision of having taken this sabbatical as I’m not sure how my mental health would have fared through this third wave had I been working at my 9 to 5. The flexibility I have with running my own business and doing so from a secure financial position where I would be okay withdrawing 2% from my portfolio this year has been crucial with balancing everything out during these past weeks.
Time is truly flying by and it is so hard to believe that this now marks the first quarter of my sabbatical. I’m excited for the next few months ahead.
Please let me know if there is anything specific you would like me to incorporate in the monthly updates on my sabbatical. Otherwise, I’d love to know what you’ve been up to through this Spring of 2021. Please share in the comments below!