… build stuff that matters.
Being on sabbatical gives you time to reflect on what is important to you. I’m not going to claim I wouldn’t like a job that paid a million dollars a year, because I certainly wouldn’t turn one down if you happen to be hiring. But being happy in what you do and who you work with is just as important as how much you make.
Over the last year I’ve had the opportunity to volunteer with Texas Search and Rescue (TEXSAR). Volunteer means you get paid in long nights and hot dusty days. But the level of enjoyment it provides to me is immense. It has helped improve how I deal with stressful situations and exposed me to new personalities and experiences.
But I didn’t start working with them until after I’d left my employer and taken some time off? The question I had to ask myself was “why not”? It was something I had thought about doing for years but I never got around to it. It wasn’t that I was too busy before (sure I was busy, but not so busy I couldn’t have given up an hour or two a week for meetings and an occasional weekend for training). But still I didn’t invest the time.
Upon reflection I think there were really two reasons.
Reason 1: I wasn’t able to leave work behind.
Reason 2: I didn’t feel like I had anything to contribute.
Life is short, build stuff that matters isn’t just about a career or product. It’s about relationships, connections, and a difference in your community. Work matters. And it should. But it can’t be the thing that prevents you from building stuff that matters in other aspects of your life. There has to be an off switch for even the most dedicated employee. The other aspects of life have the opportunity to fuel and inform your work life, but if you spend all your time with your rev limiter at the red line those other aspects of life never give you the opportunity to find another gear.
As for being able to contribute…. you never know what you have to offer until you show up. Whether that’s in a relationship, work or as a part of your community. Maybe all you have to offer is a small thing (taking attendance at a community meeting for example)…. but that small thing matters. Show up and try. Because life is short and you won’t build anything if you’re not willing to at least show up first.