Leave of Absence

A leave of absence (LOA) is my opportunity to step from the day-to-day and recalibrate my life.

In October, I'm taking an unpaid LOA. For the first time since 2009, I'm taking an extended break. One month to be exact. From 10/1 - 10/31.

I will turn on the out of office on my email and phone (which I rarely do) and only check in occasionally to address items that must be addressed (like payroll).

Will I lose business? Perhaps. But the business that comes in the door is not necessarily always the business I should take. For years, I've put the needs of my clients before my own. It's been good, and as a result most of my business is repeat and referral-based.

If they really want me, they'll wait.

Right now, my focus is on preparation, as a lingering unfinished project is sure to disrupt my plans. While it's one month off this year, my plan is to grow my LOA to a longer duration in the years ahead. Being self-employed, I don't see long-term retirement as a viable option, so the best I can do is to experience shorter spurts of temporary retirement now.

What's most important is to use the time, which I am certain will fly by, in the most effective way possible. During my month off, I'm attending a week long writing retreat, cycling a metric century, teaching ukulele classes and will probably need to probably do some marketing for a workshop I'm teaching in November. Otherwise, it's time dedicated to my projects.

One project of prime importance, which I feel is very timely is to complete the first draft of my book, Wireframed. By the end of the year, I want to have it ready for an editor so I can publish it in 2018.

So what do you work on when others aren't telling you what to do? What outcomes do you hope to create?

Who will you need to be to look back on the month and say with full conviction that it was the best time spent?

Zooming out, I am looking at the 30 days in October as an experiment for how I can lead a life rather than feel led by one.

Diving in, I will muster the best of myself to answer the question: What would you do if you were getting paid to do it? How can you make the greatest impact in the time you have?

Zoom out and consider that 1 month on the calendar reflects the entire duration of your life. Granted, it will go by quickly, but life does too. It's worthwhile revisiting BFID. I started thinking about the movies I'd see, books I'd read, where I'd hiking, biking, and sun bathing... all the places I'd like to travel.

And then it hit me. One month isn't a lot of time. If you only had one month to live, how would you be remembered? Your memory will be gone, and the only memories that will linger will be the ones you made on others.

To be a memory maker, you must make an impact. When the work you do matters, what matters is the work you do.

I anticipate a large portion of my time in October will be spent reflecting on the path I'm on and whether or not it's leading where I want to be 5, 10, or even 20 years from now. I feel the book I'm writing will help me work through the questions I've been avoiding for too long.

I recently learned of Singularity University and how they issue every student a challenge: that the work they do not only makes an impact on the world, but improves the lives of over billion people within 10 years. Only the best and brightest individuals make the cut.

Given the fact that Singular University is certainly never a place I'd end up, I wondered what a true stretch for me would be. How about having a positive impact on a million people?

Can you imagine the passion you would have everyday if you knew that the work you were doing was going to improve the lives of 1 million people?

Level Up

In the Wireframed analogy, everyday is a level up. We survived one level (today) and we get to play the next level up tomorrow when we awake. Everyday however, we get closer to the end of the game, and that makes every level up more important than the one we just completed.

My goal is simple: To improve the lives of 1 million people by October 31, 2027. 10 years from end end of my LOA.

I will spend most of my LOA month determining how I can do that. Makes the LOA pretty damn important it now, doesn't it?

I encourage you to take on a similar challenge. The joy is in the work, not the outcome. So don't look at the job as simply a means to an end.

I'm asking the question right now, what's the most effective way to improve the lives of 1 million people? What would utilize my talents yet save me from the poor house. I definitely want to help a million people, but not fall into dispair as a result.

That raises an even more startling question: If the lives of a million people could be saved at the cost of your own, would you be willing to make the sacrifice?

If I sacrificed one month of income, or even one year of imcome to improve the lives of over a million people (including those I love), then the sacrifice would be worth it.

Think about the sacrifices others have made to provide you with the life you have now.

I define sacrifice as the length one is willing to go to for a purpose greater than thy own self.