Day 25: Lucky me time.

When I tell people about what I’ve been up to in my 30 days of me time, I get things like, “Wow, aren’t you lucky.” If this all happened by chance, my luck is remarkably predictable as this is my third career break in ten years. I went to Paris in 2005, to Argentina in 2010 and, now, the faraway and most exotic Wesport, Massachusetts. (Apparently my luck arrives on a renewable five year plan.)

lucky pennyAm I lucky? To step outside of your world where the only consequence is positive is lucky, I suppose. It’s easy to judge as some selfish luxury, but really, there’s a lot of practicality to sabbaticals. And to some folks, breaks are the things that move them forward.

Stefan Sagmeister, a world renowned designer, gives a great TED talk on the Power of Time Off. It’s about how he rejuvenates by taking year-long sabbaticals every seven years. His rationale? Here’s an excerpt from his talk:

Right now we spend about the first 25 years of our lives learning, then there is another 40 years that’s really reserved for working. And then tacked on at the end of it are about 15 years for retirement. And I thought it might be helpful to basically cut off five of those retirement years and intersperse them in between those working years. (Applause) That’s clearly enjoyable for myself. But probably even more important is that the work that comes out of these years flows back into the company and into society at large, rather than just benefiting a grandchild or two.

Sagmeister goes on to talk about how time off re-ignites his work. He owns a wildly successful New York design firm with clients like the Rolling Stones, HBO and the Guggenheim. So it’s easy to see how someone with his clout can shut down for a year and pick right back up again. What about the rest of us?

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Day 14: Deciding to decide.

We have only two choices, and each one ends in yes or no.

That’s it. Sounds awfully simplistic, I know. But all of that back and forth reasoning, listing pros and cons, polling all your friends–in the end, amounts to a yes or no. Like Yoda said, “Do or do not. There is no try.” You go for it. Or you don’t. All that gray in between is a dance, a flirtation with the yes or no. I’m not saying it’s easy to think in black and white space. But cutting to the chase moves you to new and better places faster. And if it’s not the right place; you simply move again.

Because think about it. Isn’t it equally difficult to spin in circles as you carefully think through every possible outcome? What is all that thinking for? I’ve read business articles on decision making, like how top CEOs at the world’s largest companies call the shots. Believe it or not–they go with their gut…then reverse engineer the support for this direction. The sign of a good leader is not one who is always right. It’s one who can swiftly and adamantly decide. Continue reading