15 Accomplishments in 15 Weeks of Sabbatical

Greg Robleto
5 min readJan 3, 2023

As the sabbatical comes to a close, I am looking back over what I made of these 15 weeks and realizing I was busy. Here are 15 things I am delighted to have accomplished in the 15 weeks of my sabbatical.

1. Completing a Design Thinking certification from Stanford University Graduate School of Business.

I timed this sabbatical to get a certification in Design Thinking from Stanford. This program though challenging, rebuilt my confidence in my design abilities, which was shaken and low when I started the sabbatical. Over the 12 weeks, I designed an app to help those grieving the sudden loss of a loved one called Anyway to Help.

2. Making 31 pieces of CSS Art for #Divtober.

I was way over my head at the start, but perseverance and a kind and supportive community kept me going, one a day, and by the end, I was starting to get the hang of it. and was ranked 27th among all CSS artists in a poll in November (wow!). I was featured numerous times during #Divtober by CodePen and in other CSS-focused newsletters. All the art is on Dribbble and this new site (cssartstudio.com)

3. Being the focus of a Wall Street Journal article

An unexpected delight to highlight our family and how our kids look at money in the age of Roblox. This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

4. Traveling internationally with the family to Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Oman, and Bahrain.

This was our first family overseas trip in four years, but not the expected destination. Still, when Selena’s brother was stationed in the Middle East, we decided to seize the opportunity to visit.

5. Experiencing Christmastime in New York City

From the Rockefeller tree to the Radio City show, we got the whole NYC holiday experience (except for seeing the ball drop, we watched that from a TV, with no interest in being outside in that). We also saw three Broadway shows and visited a cat cafe and the Village. For all the activities, the kids had to solve a series of word and picture puzzles I created, especially for this trip.

6. Visiting theme parks again — Legoland and Miracle Gardens.

Our first visits back to these tourist destinations since pre-pandemic. The Miracle Gardens are amazing floral displays in Dubai, and Legoland NYC’s Mini-land was a fantastic display of the landmarks of the US built in brick.

7. Sandboarding, ATV dune-busting, and camel riding.

Packed in as many unique desert activities as possible when glamping in the desert, staying at the Omani Desert Nights resort.

8. Rediscovering outdoor activities like stand-up paddle boarding.

As well as biking and hiking. The sabbatical provided time to rediscover hobbies that had fallen off.

9. Learning how to drive a golf ball.

Having inherited my Dad golf clubs, I wanted to learn how to use them properly. I got a membership at TopGolf and started routinely working on my swing.

10. Redesigning my personal website

I created a new custom design in Figma and built it in VSCode using lots of CSS animation. I created sections for portfolio, experiments, and about me. I followed up that MVP by adding a headless CMS for publishing case studies and blog articles. (robleto.com)

11. Remaking our family Christmas Card using CSS.

Sharpening my skills by figuring out the complex print Christmas Card insert into a single-page website. (robletofamily.com)

12. Developing a professional social media presence.

After letting it lapse for the better part of a decade, I focused on rebuilding my personal/professional brand using Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Instagram accounts (robleto.designs)

13. Moving all my active sites to Jamstack.

It had been a couple of years since I had time to code. I shook off the rust of using VSCode, GitHub, Netlify, and Markdown and learned Nunjucks, Liquid, and 11ty.

14. Teaching myself options trading.

Recognizing this as the next horizon for myself as an investor, I carefully began wading into covered calls and other options after taking a self-directed course.

15. Designing my Life

I read loads of books over the sabbatical. Some were about design and leadership, some were just fun fiction, and a number were about handling stress and burnout. But the most interesting was the book that teaches how to use design principles on yourself. That book unlocked the drive to go after most other top accomplishments.

Honorable mentions

These were not distinct enough to highlight above but were still so valuable: visiting with friends, dates with my wife, taking over cooking dinners, helping the kids with their homework, taking long walks with the dog, and working on the house.

In conclusion:

I consider myself fortunate to have had the opportunity to take a sabbatical and am pleased to look back at all that the sabbatical entailed. Moreover, I am feeling refreshed and clear-headed and know that I am returning to work in a better place than when I left 15 weeks ago.

Disclaimer: The thoughts listed above, the accurate and especially the inaccurate, are my own and have no reflection on my employer, whom I have not contacted for the past 15 weeks because I have been off doing all the things noted above, making the most of my sabbatical.

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Greg Robleto

Creative leader at the intersection of design, product, and tech. Writing mostly about design, CSS, product strategy, leadership, investing, and more.