In 2012 I took time-out from my job. Not working for three months and instead travelling across Europe in a camper with a lot of time spent on my own. In January I embark on my second time-out: this time for seven months… and with a very special challenge ahead…
Taking time-out for the first time
Back in 2012, my time-out was inspired by designer Stefan Sagmeister. I had read an article in the magazine ‘brandeins’ in which he spoke about how he closes his successful design agency every seven years for a whole year (fully closes it: takes the sign down, cuts the phone line, etc.!) and how he experienced his first time ‘away from the job’: not leaving out the fear of losing his clients and connections (if you’re interested, listen to Stefan Sagmeister’s Ted-Talk).
I was keen on giving this experience a go myself and was lucky enough to have my co-partner and office team say: “Go on! Don’t worry! We’ll be in charge of this agency!”. To keep it short: A book by Anselm Grün (about finding your way back to your innermost sources) was what my preparation looked like, a van was to be my travel buddy and home on wheels and a route across Europe was my plan. Have a look:
When I work, I work pretty much constantly – it was important to realize that work is not everything in life and that the agency ran well without me (and that’s said in the most positive mindset and abating my ego; if you are absent, the space you leave equals room for someone else to grow into).
The first weeks on the road I couldn’t stop pondering over work-related questions (you can’t simply switch that off). When I started to slip into this new state of relaxation (which is totally different to what I had experienced previously on holiday), I could finally see how much energy I put into my thoughts and projects. Which is nothing bad per se, but it can become desperate. Realization 2 might sound mundane but to me it wasn’t: “Whatever you do, do it with joy!”
This first time-out in all its impact was also an asset for my colleagues and our customers: Re-energized and with a clear mind, I was able to draw upon this time as my source of inspiration for the 4 1/2 years to follow.
So if you ever considered taking time off: I can only encourage you!
Time-out 2: Parental leave
Almost five years have passed since my first time ‘away from the job’ and I’m looking ahead to my second time-out: Right now I’m finishing some last projects, handing over tasks and trying to ease up week by week.
On 01.01.2017 my second time-out officially begins. This time I’ll be away for seven months and with a very special task: I will take care of my May-born daughter, while my partner is going back to work.
I’m really looking forward to this time AND yet I’m positively scared!
I wonder whether I’m able to stop the constant pondering and let go of all work-related topics (I simply LOVE my job!) while staying at home? This time around I won’t be able to get on the van and be by myself all day…
My “boss” for the upcoming months (she is enchanting!) has her very own rhythms after all. Watching my partner treat her with so much love and devotion, gave me a deep sense of respect for her role as “mother” and how well she fulfilled that task.
Can I live up to that – fulltime? Simply being in the here and now? With my “boss” setting the pace … and of course the housekeeping? Will I be able to let any work-related thoughts come and go?
I do feel stagefright, but most of all I am curious, in good spirits and thankful for this opportunity to spend this much time with my daughter. (Obviously, I’m reading loads online to at least pretend to be fully prepared for this adventure).
Maybe one dad or another (or even a mother) might read this blog and leave their experience or tips in the comment section below.
I’m now on the finishing line and all that is left is clearing my desk and enjoying my last weeks in the office! I want to say farewell to all you wonderful colleagues and clients and for the second time I say: “I’m off!” (from 01.01.2017 til July 2017) … and see you soon!