As of right now, I’m on sabbatical! Yeah baby, yeah! After some discussion with my various colleagues, I’ve decided to take a one month paid sabbatical to rest, rediscover, and go on an adventure. I could have done longer, but the second month is only 80% paid, and the third month is even less at 60% of paid salary.
You thought I was kidding when I wrote, “Should I Take A Sabbatical: Fears, Preparation, and Execution!” didn’t you? Now you know when I write lengthy posts about making a change and enjoying life that I’m not messing around! I’ve spent 13 consecutive years working in my same job. I’ve saved up a good chunk of change and I’ve been itching to do something new ever since I launched Financial Samurai three years ago.
Taking a sabbatical is the first step towards discovering whether or not I can take the leap of faith and do something fully on my own. Do anything for a while, and it becomes increasingly harder to cut the chord. Why do you think swans die when their mate passes?
One of my biggest fears is looking back on life and regretting not taking more chances. Living in any developed country like the USA is easy compared to hundreds of other countries around the world. I’m not afraid of dying, I’m just afraid of not living life to the fullest.
NEW FEARS AFTER OVERCOMING OLD FEARS
Fear of failure is what’s driven me to work hard, save, stop complaining, and invest aggressively for so long. My target ever since college was to be somebody by age 30. I had 8 years to either feel like a success, or know that I was at least heading in the right direction. I didn’t want to be an unemployed 30 year old, living in momma’s basement with no woman, no savings, and no friends.
My fears made me get into work at 5:30am and leave after everyone else so long as I could still breathe the first two years out of college. My fears during the 2000-2003 downturn made me go back to school and get an MBA, even though that meant putting an additional 20-30 hours of studying and class on top of my already 65 hour work weeks. My fears led me to go travel abroad every year for 13 years straight because if I died early from a heart attack, at least I would have seen Sugar Loaf and the Taj Mahal.
I have new fears now:
* Am I being too rash with my career as someone in their mid-30s?
* Will I discover during my sabbatical that I will never want to go back to working for someone else?
* Will I realize that working online is only fun because there’s no pressure to make any money since I’ve got a job?
* Will I miss my friends, clients, and colleagues?
* Could the value of freedom actually be worth less than the value of money?!
There’s no big fear about not having enough money because that’s what saving and investing for the first 13 years post college was for. I knew after I got my ass repeatedly kicked by rough bosses for the first two years in NYC that I would need to save a boatload in order to extricate myself away from the 5:30am-to-7:30pm+ life.
When 9/11 occurred, all I wanted to do was become a fireman or some sort of public servant, rather than work in the private sector whose sole purpose is to make more profits. When the terrorist attacks occurred in Mumbai in 2008 at the Oberoi and Taj Mahal Hotels, I wanted to give up again because I had just stayed at the Oberoi two weeks prior! Yet, I continued on.
YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW
Ignorance is bliss, but I tend not to be too ignorant. I tend to analyze everything as thoroughly as possible and set up alternative scenarios to plan accordingly. In most cases, thorough anticipation is a positive. However, in other cases, I can see the over analysis of situations as completely debilitating.
Folks right out of college have it good (unless they are saddled in debt). Recent grads aren’t making much money, don’t have anybody to support, and hopefully haven’t gotten into any sort of heavy consumer credit card debt yet. When you’re young, you’re free to do anything! The world is your filet mignon sandwich.
As you get older, you see the world as it really is, a structure of mazes which may or may not lead you to what you really want. You can choose one path, work your butt off, but end up getting sideswiped by an economic collapse or an evil nemesis at work. The only person you can really count on is yourself, which is kind of scary!
Whatever chance you get, please speak to someone older, or someone whose gone through what you think you’ll be going through. Having a mentor is a powerful, powerful asset that will help provide you a more fulfilling life. They’ll help you overcome what you don’t know.
SO WHAT IN THE WORLD AM I GOING TO DO ON SABBATICAL?
One month is going to go by in a cheetah’s eye. As a result, I’ve created a plan:
* Work on my career and personal finance consulting services. I recently launched consulting services to help people improve their finances, get into b-school and enhance their careers. It’s been hard work, but very rewarding.
* Hire a developer to rework Yakezie.com and add new features. If you know anybody, please let me know as I have money to spend.
* Meet online advertisement or consulting clients face-to-face or connect over the phone to develop deeper relationships.
* Work on solidifying at least one premier client whom I plan to invest a good amount of money in who will be a pillar advertiser on Financial Samurai.
* Figure out how to maximize a chunk of savings that’s sitting around in a 0.3% money market account to increase my passive income.
* Look for any other job opportunities (in paradise) out there in various industries.
* Test out the real estate market and put my house on the market after Facebook goes public on May 18, 2012.
* Take a week off and go to Hawaii to boogie board, hike, golf, and eat.
Holy $(@#! Out of the eight things I’ve listed, seven of them are work! Furthermore, I have no doubt that when I’m in Hawaii I’ll work at least 2-3 hours a day every day.
* Not feeling recharged and ready to take on the world after my sabbatical.
PROBLEMS ON THE HORIZON POST SABBATICAL
The reason why I titled this post, “Taking A Sabbatical And Never Coming Back” is because one of the most likely scenarios I see is that I’ll get back to work for a couple weeks and decide to engineer my own layoff (70% chance). Another scenario is that I ask to do something different within the firm from some other location (10% chance, what’s better than SF?). And the final scenario is that I realize how lucky I am to make good money and have a job (20% chance)!
I already know how lucky I am to have a job that allows me to eat the occasional toro sashimi dinner. These past 10 years have been brutal in the economy, and I’m sure I had more close calls than I know. I distinctly remember losing hundreds of thousands of dollars in my net worth in early 2009, hence the cathartic birth of Financial Samurai! That said, the past is in the past and I’m focused on now.
Stability and money is very hard to give up, especially if a family is on the way. But, how much do we really need anyway? Do I really need $15,000 a month in gross passive income to really feel secure? Or, is that just a fun goal to challenge myself? Some people say that people get addicted to money once they start making a lot. I say people start getting sick of money once they have money. Instead, people with financial security tend to work on other things such as charitable initiatives, hobbies, travel, and so forth. What say you?
EXHILARATION FOR CHANGING
Change is stressful, but oh so exciting. Being an entrepreneur is a completely different animal. You never, ever feel like you can go on vacation or are on vacation. I’ve tried many times over the past several years to change my state of mind, but I couldn’t. There’s always someone asking you for something, and always something you can optimize and do more of.
All I know is that I’ve had the entrepreneurial bug in me the day I graduated from college. I’ve told myself several times in the 13 years of work that I should quit and do something else, but didn’t. Taking a sabbatical is that first step. I just hope I don’t step on a landmine or fall off a cliff!
Untemplaters, what would you do if you had a one month sabbatical right now? Would you completely go see the world, or would you work overtime on your own potential full-time business given you know the end might be near?
I’d love to hear some specific suggestions on what you would do, and what you would do if you were me.
Post Sabbatical Update One Month Later: Wrote a summary post entitled, “What I Learned While On Sabbatical“. Learned some interesting stuff about the economy and myself.
Personal Story: I was able to negotiate a severance package equal to six years of living expenses. Learn how to negotiate a great severance for yourself in my new book How to Engineer Your Layoff! Never quit, always get laid off so you can collect a severance, health care insurance, deferred compensation, unused vacation days, and be eligible for unemployment. If for whatever reason you do not find the book helpful, you can have a full refund.