What Simon Biles and Naomi Osaka Can Teach Us About Taking a Sabbatical

Mental Health

When Simone Biles announced this week that she was dropping out of the team’s Olympic gymnastic event and then the all-around individual event, I felt inspired.

I was glad that she put her mental and physical health first and it made me more inspired and ready to take my own break. 

I felt the same way when Osaka declined a press conference for her mental health (and was subsequently booted from the French Open, which was outrageous). If you haven’t read her article in Time, it’s worth the read.  

These women are putting their health and well-being first, and it has been great to see the outpouring of support for them as well as the increased spotlight on mental health.

I haven’t seen much about the connection between mental health and taking a break from regular jobs. But, I think Biles’ and Osaka’s bravery will cause many more people to step back and consider whether they also need a break from their jobs.  

We have already heard that people are leaving jobs at record rates as we come out of the pandemic. Many are quitting work with no next job to move on to. Data on why employees are leaving isn’t solid, but anecdotes indicate a range of reasons.  

One of the reasons that people are leaving their jobs is because they are putting their mental health first. We all feel tired.  

But, we also feel empowered. Seeing others focus on their well-being in spite of society’s expectations and demands is incredible. If women with the weight of the world on their shoulders can step up for themselves, so can the rest of us. 

But, it’s also important to consider what Biles and Osaka have that many of us who would like to take a break from our jobs do not.  

Questions to Consider Before Quitting Your Job

If Biles’, Osaka’s, and others’ prioritization of their mental health inspire you to take stock of your own well-being, here are a few things to ask yourself before you turn in your notice.

Are You a GOAT?

Biles and Osaka are truly some of the Greatest of All Time. If you are good at what you do, have you truly “made it” yet?

Make sure you aren’t leaving until you have made the impact you want to make in your career. Otherwise, you may regret leaving too early.  

Do You Have the Funds to Support Yourself?

As I’ve previously written about, I’m saving $100,000 to take a sabbatical. Biles and Osaka have a significant net worth.

Before you quit your job, make sure you have money in the bank.

Do You Have the Family, Friends, and Other Support You Need?

Biles and Osaka have huge crews of friends, family, teammates, and even sponsors that have their backs, plus a culture that is supportive of them.

Do you have all of these things? Probably not, but ensuring you have some support from your family is imperative. 

Do You Have Resilience and the Ability to Pivot?

Biles and Osaka have already overcome an immense number of obstacles in their lives. Resilience is needed daily to compete and to continue to thrive despite the pressure.

Before you leave your job, ensure that you too can pivot to what’s next and be resilient when leaving your job doesn’t go exactly as planned.

Do You Have Purpose?

Osaka and Biles have both found purposes bigger than themselves or their sports. Presumably, when they retire from their sports for good, they will continue advocating for the causes that matter most to them.

What cause that is bigger than yourself will you devote your time to when you take your sabbatical?

The Bottom Line

Seeing other women take a break and put their well-being first inspires me to take the sabbatical I need for my well-being. But, when thinking through the questions above, I know I’m not quite there yet.