Beginning September first 2013, I will take a sabbatical from travel and speaking. I will not speak at or travel to conferences and other events for the remainder of 2013 and all of 2014. Beyond that, I have no plans. I may return to my previous routine of technical conferences. I may pursue a new venue to share my experience and insights. I defer those decisions until January of 2015.
Sabbatical or a sabbatical (from Latin sabbaticus, from Greek sabbatikos, from Hebrew shabbat, i.e., Sabbath, literally a “ceasing”) is a rest from work, or a break, often lasting from two months to a year.
Arriving at this decision was not easy. When the idea occurred to me, my first thought was, “I can’t do that!” Immediately, I realized that if my reaction is so strong, there must be a lot of energy tied up in the idea. I knew then that I must face this challenge.
When I told my wife my intentions, she asked, “What about events x and y?” I told her those were exceptions and I would still participate in them. She rightly said that if I made exceptions for those events, I would do so for others and my plan would be a failure. Also, If I made exceptions for some events and not others, it would be unfair to the conference organizers of the events I skipped.
I am grateful to have the support of many conference organizers over the years who spent precious dollars from their limited budgets to bring me to their events. These people have become faithful friends. To snub some of the organizers would dishonor our friendship. Therefore, I decided to go “cold turkey” from all travel and speaking. Once I made the decision, I felt a sense of relief. I knew intuitively that this was the right direction for me.
In their book The Power of Full Engagement, Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz report that a key to peak performance is regular periods of rest and renewal. I need a chance to rest and recover. It is time for me to lay aside my current routine to make room for new ideas.
I need to channel my time, money and energy into new pursuits. I need to have new experiences and learn new lessons to share. I need time to step back and see my life and plans with a new perspective. I need to find out what matters most to me and focus time and attention on those things.
While on sabbatical, I will pursue new opportunities that I might previously have overlooked. I do not want to look back on this period of my life with regret that I “played it safe” rather than going “all in” on the adventure life presents.
I already have an opportunity to create something new and challenging. This pursuit may become remunerative in time or it may go nowhere but I know I would regret leaving this path unexplored. Rest assured that no matter the outcome, I will share my experiences and insights so that others may learn from them.
I delivered my first technical presentation on June 27, 2005. I have given countless talks in the eight years since that initial user group presentation. My first conference presentation was at the inaugural DevLink in 2006. It is fitting, then, that my last presentation before my sabbatical is at 1:00 pm on the final day of DevLink this week.
By taking this new direction, I will practice what I preach. I hope that I can lead by example in implementing the changes that I have encouraged others to make for years. Change is challenging and frightening. I don’t know if I have the resolve to succeed in my new endeavors but I know I must try.
It’s time to dream a new dream.