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Sabbatical

An audio version of this essay is available on Substack here.


“The greatest thing in the world is to know how to belong to oneself.”

- Michel de Montaigne


There is much to gain from getting away. Away from what you do, where you live, and whom you love. Academics take sabbaticals. Artists take retreats. Couples take weekend sanity breaks from the kids. The aims are the same: through these periods of escape from the routine, recharge and find fresh inspiration for what truly matters: our work; our creativity; ourselves and each other.


These pauses can provide the novel thinking needed to shape new ventures. They can provide the calm and quiet to finish lingering projects. When done right they help us reset around that most authentic version or ourselves; that version that gets lost too often in the noise of life.


For interpreneurs (click here to understand if that’s you), sabbaticals offer periods of clarity required to organize major life leaps and reorient towards grand legacy ambitions.


Clarity


Clarity (noun). The state of having a full, detailed, and orderly mental grasp of something.- Merriam-Webster Dictionary


Provence is a popular destination for sabbaticals. I’ve become skilled at the art of distraction (fair warning) for new arrivals working on serious projects: a professor’s next book or artist’s new collection. I really should finish this cross-sectional analysis on the growth of mite infestations as a function of measurable temperature increase, … or I could join Bill for that rosé tasting in Lourmarin this afternoon.



I arrived here with Alexandra and our 3 young kids in 2003, needing separation from Silicon Valley and a self-induced fixation on status and materialism. Although we returned to San Francisco 3 years later, I struggled to fully reengaged with my career in the world of high finance. It wasn’t that I become a new man during my Provence sabbatical, rather that I gained clarity on the plusses and minuses of the life decisions being made. The degree of drift I had allowed (encouraged, actually) from my authentic core became more obvious. I regret nothing about this drift, but at 50 wanted to realign more tightly again with that core Bill. (I returned to Provence for good in 2010, much less affluent, much more bountiful, and much, much happier.)


Space & Time


Space and time are 2 elements required for a successful sabbatical. Isolation space from what you do, where you live, and whom you love, over the minimum period of time required to surface the clarity needed for real life leaps. If you enjoy the luxury to create space from all 3 – what, where, and whom – you’ll be in an excellent shape for major epiphonies and advances. For many of us, getting 2 of the 3 is more likely and still justifies the effort. One only will not provide the separation from routine and dispositions needed to “leave it all behind” for the time required. Work on getting at least 2.


How much time is required to complete your sabbatical? Universities grant a year typically, but few of us have that flexibility. A week is not enough to truly escape the tug of the what, where, and whom’s teathering us in orbit. Our Life Leap Workshops in Provence run for a month, and we consider that the minimum period for interpreneurs to embrace their independence and be ready to think without inhibitions, possibly dangerously. We provide a safe space for imagining what’s possible without limitations.


Your Sabbatical Experiment:


Ready to plan a life leap sabbatical? If yes, start a Sabbatical Planning Journal to record thoughts on these 5 basic questions as a necessary Step 1. Ponder the questions at different times during the day, and in different settings. At home, in the park, writing in a cafe. (Please feel free to get in touch with me for a sounding board if helpful.)


Your 5 sabbatical planning questions:

  1. How long can I commit?

  2. Where will I go?

  3. What do I want to learn, lose, and gain?

  4. What will define success?

  5. Who will join me?

If you are standing at an inflection point in life and seeking additional experiments to help guide your thinking, please download a free copy of my latest book Where Now & How. For more information on the art of interpreneurship contact us through the site, or email me directly at bill@interprizegroup.com.


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