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Ben and I were discussing workaholism at our meeting the other morning. We got to talking about whether or not there is such a thing if you’re doing what you love.
This segued into wondering when is the appropriate time to take breaks or to take a step back from what you’re doing. I’ve heard of people taking a year off every 7th year, which I think is a fascinating idea, but I haven’t heard of smaller scale sabbaticals.
Among other things, we explore the idea of taking a step back once a day, one day every week, and one week every 7 weeks. We talk about why this is beneficial, and how in the world you can enable such sabbaticals.
- Freeloader Followup
- 01:07 We got a good amount of angry feedback after e071 on freeloaders (Related: e071 Positioning Yourself Around Success). People were offended by my use of the word “freeloader”. I talk about the article I wrote in response, Freeloaders: The Relationship Marketing Caveat, and clarify the freeloading mindset I’m referring to when I use that word.
- 05:43 We’re hearing people say this podcast has revolutionized the way they do business and how they view clients, products, marketing, and design. If someone listening to this show is just getting started with their business and still waiting to turn a profit and they’re not yet able to afford compensation but has decided in their mind that they intend to pay it back when they can, then they are not a freeloader. Freeloading is a mindset. It’s someone who decides in their mind that they intend to mooch indefinitely.
- 29:30 I was talking to my brother on the phone when he mentioned in passing that I was a workaholic. Just a nonchalant remark about me being a workaholic. Now, I do know that I definitely put in the hours, but I wanted to press the issue and see where he was coming from and what he thought.
- 29:57 I questioned, “If you could do anything in the world, what would it be? Let’s say you just went to your top 3 dream destinations. You just got back from a 2-week vacation and you’re home. Let’s also say that you’re caught up on all of your favorite TV shows and reading list. You’re sitting on the couch and it’s a fresh day. What do you do? What fulfills you?”
- 30:38 I’m trying to get at the heart of this. My brother thought a moment and answered, “I know it would be something musical. I enjoy making music and playing piano. I also really like singing. I’m not the greatest at it, but when I do sing, I’m filled with joy. I know it would be one of those things.”
- 31:02 “If you did that all day, would you say that felt like you were working?” I asked.
- 31:08 “No, it wouldn’t feel like work,” he replied.
- 31:12 “That’s literally how I feel every single day.”
- 31:17 If you’re feeling torn between two goals and want to identify the lesser goal, here’s how to tell: What if you died in 3 months? Would you feel more fulfilled at that point having done A or having done B?
- 32:33 The lines certainly do become blurred. When work is play and play is work, and what you love to do is also what enables you to do what you love, things get confusing. What is work? Things become existential rather quickly.
- 33:00 It’s pretty simple, but I think it’s a healthy answer. It acknowledges that even if this thing is a good thing, there can be too much of a good thing if it takes away from other things (or people) that are important.
- Small Scale Sabbaticals
- 34:27 When is the appropriate time to take breaks or to take a step back from what you’re doing?
- 34:48 If your money is taken care of, if you’ve gone on all of the vacations, if you’ve read the books you want to read and beat the video games you want to play, what do you want to do? Take that thing, and the question becomes “If you were to do that thing constantly, and it doesn’t feel like work to you, is there still a need for some kind of break or sabbatical?”
- 35:29 I’ve heard of people taking a year off every 7th year, which I think is a fascinating idea, but I haven’t heard of smaller scale sabbaticals:
- Once every day.
- One day every week.
- One week every 7 weeks.
- 35:53 Let’s say you’re doing what you love to do and it doesn’t feel like work—should you stop doing it for one day of the week? Is that still necessary?
- 36:03 What if you took a moment out of every day to step back from your work and really think about it—really evaluate what you’re doing and where you’re at.
- 36:22 What if every 7th day, you took a whole day off to do the same thing on a slightly larger scale?
- 36:28 What if we continued this factor of 7…
- 40:58 Getting away from your routine puts you in a position where you have a different perspective. Spontaneity helps your creativity, and exposing yourself to different things can positively influence your work.
- 42:53 If you step back from your work and take that week off and explore different things, maybe you find that NEXT thing.
- 43:03 In the beginning, you’re trying to figure out what you love to do and now you already found what you love to do. But what if there’s something you love doing even more and you’re not giving yourself the margin to even discover it?
- 43:51 The good thing about taking a step back and taking some time away is absence makes the heart grow fonder. It gives you even more fervor and passion going back into it.
- 46:47 Try new things.
- 49:28 We’ve talked previously about how you can’t do everything you like to do at once (Related: e050 Weathering the Seasons of Your Passions), but what if you took your sabbatical time to pursue your secondary passions?
- 52:26 Sometimes you might find that pursuing one of your other passions within a sabbatical will satisfy the craving for that thing. Or, you may even find that you actually love doing it even more than your primary passion. You can then dedicate several more sabbaticals to exploring that thing and possibly shifting to it.
- How Can You Afford A Week Off Every 7 Weeks?
- 53:19 Compare how you’re living now to how you were living 5 years ago. That difference is lifestyle creep. How much more money do you make now than you did then, and how much have you allowed your lifestyle to increase to match that?
- 54:07 Let’s say your bills cost $X/month. Let’s also say you make $2X/month. Do you then allow your lifestyle (bills) to increase up to $2X? Or do you hold your lifestyle back and use the extra $1X above your bills to support yourself so that you are able to take these sabbaticals.
- 55:19 Don’t think of sabbaticals as time off. Think of them as investments.
- The Hired Lawnmower
- 56:01 Let’s say you hire a guy to mow your lawn and it costs you $50. Let’s also say that your time is worth $150/hr. It can still be difficult to justify the tradeoff if you don’t have the opportunity to use that time to realize your full worth. The value tangibility may not be there.
- 57:04 You have to decide how long-term you’re thinking. If you’re focusing on just this single instance of hiring someone else to mow your lawn, you may not be able to realize $50 of tangible value the first time. Probably because the first time, you’re going to be sitting on your couch underneath a fan inside your air-conditioned house sipping on a glass of lemonade while you watch him mow your lawn outside the window.
- 57:22 But if you think of it more long-term, you could set aside the exact time that he’s mowing your lawn and spend it working on something. If your vision is long-term enough, it can be worth it. If your vision is a measurement of “4 lawns,” here is the cost of hiring the lawn mower:
- Job #1: $50
- Job #2: $50
- Job #3: $50
- Job #4: $50
- Total: $200
- 57:35 Work on something during the time that he mows your lawn to show yourself that you’re doing better with the time than actually mowing your own lawn. You want to prove to yourself that it’s a smarter investment to pay this guy. Maybe the first time you don’t make the investment back—maybe even the second time you don’t. But eventually your return on the investment will catch up. If your vision is long-term enough, you will surpass the investment cost:
- Job #1: $25
- Job #2: $50
- Job #3: $75
- Job #4: $100
- Total: $250 (-$200 COST = $50 profit)
Workaholism: When what you’re doing detracts from something else you should be doing.
What if you took off a whole week every 7 weeks?