After leaving my last position, I received the incredible advice to take a 100-day sabbatical before jumping back into the workforce. I wasn’t convinced at first, but what are mentors for if you don’t trust them? I’d been pouring my heart and soul into a single adventure and rightly needed some time to focus back in on the priorities of life. Our second child was born exactly a month before this retreat and the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. These 100-days have provided amazing reflection. If you care to ask, here’s what’s been on my mind:

  • We’ll start with the obvious – my family is incredibly blessed to be able to afford a 100-days without my spouse or me working. Even among those of us living in this relatively affluent country, most substantial breaks from a paycheck would lead to constant stress and domestic budgeting. We’ve received an outsized share of luck and fortune.
  • Being a stay-at-home-parent is no joke. Corporate life is a daycare compared the battleground that is a toddler missing his nap. Our 4-month-old has zero respect for my Outlook Calendar and published “do-not-disturb” hours. Our 2-year-old believes destruction of employer property is part of his job description.
  • I’ve always preached about and encouraged “Family First” but haven’t really been living it. It’s one thing to work occasionally excessive hours. It’s another to browse email on the couch at night and allow work-thoughts to distract from real conversations. Be where you are.
  • The “scruffy” look does not work well on me. It’s a bit more homeless-looking than rugged-looking.
  • Cell phones and the always connected mindset of this age will be the ruin of our happiness. We have instant digital access to the knowledge repository of generations and are more “connected” as a society than ever. So why don’t we have increased happiness, global productivity and education to show for it? Why does a blinking notification light on my phone give me an endorphin hit substantial enough to distract me from my laughing child or smiling wife? You don’t need a 100-day sabbatical to take this advice: drop your cell phone in a drawer the second you come home and forget about it until the morning.
  • It’s hard to properly recognize unhealthy habits and relationships without stepping outside the framework they exist in.
  • It is possible to wear only cargo shorts and comfy hoodies for 100 straight days.
  • Spending uninterrupted months with my two little kids, at this age, has been the greatest and happiest time of my life. I say this from an incredibly lucky background; I’ve traveled the world, been to private concerts and met my heroes. Not a single promotion, election or accomplishment I’ve ever received even remotely compares to my joy of this dedicated time with family. I will remember this time whenever I set the priorities in my life.
  • You probably shouldn’t wear only cargo shorts and comfy hoodies for 100 straight days.
  • Sleep and exercise are preventative maintenance for the mind.
  • If you don’t pursue your own dream, you can get paid to help someone else pursue their dream. We call this employment, but not necessarily fulfillment.
  • Experience without reflection is just an event. Personally, I need to do a better job building reflection into my daily routine. If you’re driving for three hours with two screaming babies, you’re stuck just chatting with yourself in your own head – would you like who you’re stuck with?
  • There are folks with integrity and folks with money. And folks with both and folks with neither. And folks who will compromise the first for more of the last. I sincerely believe in the best of people but reading the newspaper every morning makes it more difficult.
  • Why is getting a hood haircut so hard to find?
  • Fear holds us back far more than hope moves us forward. Nearly the best thing a leader can do for their people is balancing those scales.
  • Have I mentioned that stay-at-home parents have one of the most difficult and under-appreciated jobs on the planet? My wife and I have a long-standing agreement to never compare our daily difficulties – nothing good ever came of one-upping someone else’s problems. Still, these 100-days have given me an appreciation for her work that I couldn’t possibly have entirely empathized with before.
  • It’s time to wrap this list up.
  • The world is an amazing place and we’re lucky for every moment we get here. Spend every minute intentionally, ‘cuz you’re never getting ‘em back!

DKT