"If you don't design your own life plan, chances are you'll fall into someone else's plan, and guess what they have planned for you? Not much." ~Jim Rohn
What's a YoL?
I've named it a Year of Learning (YoL). It's not a sabbatical and it's not a mid-life gap year. I'm not taking a year off to travel or meditate on top of a mountain. And it's not just a career move. Neither do I want to go in early retirement. I don't know that it will be a year long. Ideally it will keep going in some shape for the next 20 years. I do anticipate that loads of learning will occur, some planned and most unplanned and unanticipated, which is why I have decided to call it a Year of Learning.
Timeline (and the beneficial impact of anticipation)
My YoL will start in August 2017. It's mid-January 2017 and I've been planning this for a while already (Social Impact Consulting - September 2016). It feels like planning a vacation. The planning part can be as fun and rewarding as the vacation itself. I'm applying some of the findings of anticipation research, transferring them from the context of a vacation to a career change.
My ultimate goal is to design a smooth transition from a traditional 9-5 job with benefits into satisfying independent consulting work that will allow more flexibility to do the things I want to do without having to wait for retirement to do them.
I have goals for this YoL, I even have a detailed business plan, but I'm ready to throw the plan out the window if something else emerges. Here are four angles I'll be working on:
- Loads of Learning - That's an easy goal because it's an existing habit, almost on autopilot. The key is to balance focused, intentional learning with serendipitous learning and exploration. I also have a specific research project in mind (see next blog post).
- Make (some) Money - Yes, this is not a 12 months vacation and it's not a sabbatical with a job to get back to in a year. That's where the business plan comes in. The YoL does require an income stream but my goal is to not make it the top priority.
- Nurture my Network(s) - This will be more of a stretch, will require some pro-active planning --which sounds redundant --, and it will be critical to my overall well-being as well as important for long-term success.
- Work out the "Work-life Balance"- Why wait to retire to go on those long bike rides in the middle of the week? Schedule it and just do it! No more 8 hours in front of a computer. There has to be another way.
- The Case for a Midlife 'Gap" Year: Baby boomers are taking career breaks to reflect, re-energize and restart their engines, by Anne Tergesen, Wall Street Journal, December 8, 2013.
- A Gap Year for Grown-ups, by Marc Freedman, Harvard Busienss Review, July 14, 2011.
- Nigel marsh: How to make work-life balance work. TEDTalk, May 2010.