We are constantly moving, working all the time.
Worried about gaps on our LinkedIn.
Ever so afraid of pauses, we fear to lose the security and our edge.
But gaps and pauses are an important part of growth. They are worth embracing.
They are not for everyone. But doable for anyone who sees value in the approach and can plan ahead.
WHY? To Plan Major Shifts And Tie Loose Ends
First and foremost, there is more to life than work.
And, even if work is your life then to do it well you need to pause, reflect and plan.
Long term planning can’t be done in minutes. Even when you set aside a day or 3-4 days in a year for planning you can’t possibly plan a major shift that is required for evolution.
Because for planning and thinking about a big shift you need leisurely exploration that can’t be done in a day. I’ll share a model below that you can use if you decide to use this approach.
It does not need to be about your career only. It can also be about fulfilling a lifelong dream of traveling, writing a book, learning a new skill, starting a new show or something as simple as spending more time with family which is a super important part of life.
Earlier I wrote about course correction but that can’t be a substitute for a strategic pause which allows for big leaps in life and career.
Now that we have explored why this is an approach worth following, let’s see how to put it into action.
HOW?: An On and Off Model for Career Growth
First the standard approach for cubicle jockeys. I have respect for those who are part of the grind, but want to create their own path and are ready to make an effort to do it.
If you are in this situation then use the following model for short term exploration.
11+1: Take a month long or 3 weeks-break once a year after working for 11 months to explore and plan for the next 11-12 months.
You can also do the same if you are in the early stages of growing your startup. I did it for many years before taking a longer break to explore.
Once you become seasoned and get a team to support you then you can go for 10+2 model. Where you work for 5 months and take a month long break and do it twice in a year.
If you have systems in place to be hands-free during a vacation and what you are building can run without you then go for 9+3, work for 9 months and going on a vacation for 3 months. This vacation will be your EXPLOCATION. During this time, you just reflect, explore and plan.
To take it to the next level, every 4-7 years take a year off to explore widely and run experiments. Then come back and spend year 4-7 years to work on the new path based on what worked during the experiments.
This can be a totally new direction or an addition to what you already do. You are the best judge.
While you do this keep measure twice, cut once approach. It applies to carpentry, and also our lives and careers.