The Seven Year Itch
A few years ago, my friend Joe sent me a link to a video featuring an accomplished graphic designer, Stefan Sagmeister, who closes down his firm every seven years to take a year off. His rationale is simple and seductive: rather than working for 40 years and retire for 15 years before we die, why don’t we take 5 years from retirement and intersperse them throughout the 40 working years? The idea of taking a year off gnawed at me ever since I watched that video.
Even though he justifies the year as a retirement-year, Mr. Sagmeister takes sabbaticals entirely for career reasons. It’s sort of creative renewal which, for someone in the creative field, is career enhancing. He says that the year-off allows him to experiment with new ideas, which would fuel his work in the following years. But what if you’re a dentist? You’re unlikely to get better at doing root canals by spending a year in Bali.
Indeed, there’re other reasons for taking a year off. To spend time with one’s family. To take up personal interests unrelated to career. Or, just to take a break from normal life — a much extended vacation, which is more inline with the retirement-year idea. As a matter of fact, my list of priorities for my year off is depressingly long.
Before I left, everyone asked me, “What are you going to do on the island?” I responded with some half-baked answers, because honestly, I didn’t know. And I still don’t know for sure. Over the next days and weeks, I’m going to have figure it out.
Seven years ago, Kristin and I took 3 months off to travel through Africa. I realized this after we decided to come to Rødøy. There must be something to it.