Stefan Sagmeister: The Power of Time Off

Wow! Turns out we’re all obsessed with not working for a while! Yesterday’s post actually resulted in a few emails from both strangers and friends asking about my time off: how I financed it, how I planned it, and how I convinced myself to jump off the ledge and just do it. I’m no expert at this, so I dug up what inspired me so I could share it with you.

Back when I first started seriously considering the idea of taking time off, I think I actually googled the word “sabbatical” just for fun to see what I’d find. One of the first things I saw was this video (below) of Stefan Sagmeister’s Ted talk, where he discusses closing his New York studio for a yearlong sabbatical every seven years to rejuvenate and refresh his creative outlook.

At around 1:20 in, when he displays the timeline of how our life is broken up into learning, work, and retirement, I was sold; my decision was made. Breaking my retirement into mini-chunks earlier in life — when I was physically able to do it and actually enjoy it, rather than gambling on the hope of being alive in another twenty-five years and then hoping to be healthy and agile enough to travel around the world — made so much sense to me. Why wait? It also enticed me to go to Bali while I was still working and could afford to take the trip, a decision I’ve never regretted. (Though those wild dogs he mentions did scare me!)

A few teasers of what he got out of his time off:

  • His job became a calling again, not just a job.
  • He had fun.
  • Over the long term, it was financially successful.
  • Everything he created in the seven years following the sabbatical came out of that one year off.

So give it a watch. I hope you’ll find it as inspiring as I did.