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Sabbatical update week 4

Finding my rhythm

After the struggle to be ‘productive’ during the last two weeks I’ve found my rhythm this week. Small tweaks in my daily routine brought the change I needed which was reinforced by inspiration.

“You will never change your life until you change something you do daily.” – John C. Maxwell

I had all this activities on my list like ‘complete reading book’ ‘watch course on typography’ and I wasn’t making progress. I started creating a habit of defining three things to complete the next day and I break them down in small parts. Like ‘read chapter 2 of this book’ or ‘outline this blogpost’. The next day after my morning routine I immediately get going and it’s easy to make progress. Action creates motivation and I felt energized all week. This, however had a downside as I was still full of energy going to bed, which hurt my sleep. With my phone next to my bed it was tempting to browse the internet or catch up with my favourite vloggers. Starting last night my phone is forbidden in the bedroom. Let’s see how this tweak to my daily routine impacts my productivity and sleep.

Inspiration

It was also an inspirational week. Last week Eric Ries’ new book The Startup Way was released. I immediately started reading and felt inspired. I’m only a few chapters into the new book yet but it’s interesting to recognize many of the elements that were part of the Innovate EY program described in the book.

The biggest inspiration of the week was due to the ‘Streets of the World‘ photography exhibition I visited on Friday. Photographer Jeroen Swolfs completed his passion project to take a street photo in every capital of the world. The 195 photos form an interesting documentary of humanity around the globe. It left me wondering what photo project I can take up that would be exhibition worthy. I can highly recommend the 45 minute National Geographic documentary (in Dutch) about this project.

Weekly stats:

  • Running: 28km
  • Total weekly steps: 83k
  • Average sleep: 6:39

Thanks for reading!

Broos

CategoriesGeneral

Sabbatical update week 3

The challenge continues

In the previous update I already shared with you the challenges that come with having no urgent deadlines or brief shots of adrenaline after every email, phone call or meeting. This week I had even more trouble finding my productivity. A few days passed filled with procrastination while trying out things to find my new rhythm. Going to a coffeeshop, co-working space or just outside (we were lucky with a few sunny days) did help to get some things done.

Feeling productive

The question I try to answer for myself is, when do I feel productive? It has always been a feeling of ‘being in the zone’ or ‘being present’. One of the EY leaders once explained to me that his definition of work-life balance is when he is fully present in the activity he is engaged in at that time. Enjoying the family when he’s home or on the phone with them as well as giving his full attention to the board meeting or the conference call he is dialling in to. I applied this concept not only to feeling balanced but also to being productive (after all you can only be truly productive when your thoughts are focused on what you’re doing). And this is exactly the feeling I’m lacking for the past two weeks. When I’m trying my hand on design I want to be learning to code and when learning to code I want to read a book. The only activities where I feel I’m truly present is with friends and family and while running. I feel strongly that these feelings and thoughts bring me closer to true intrinsic motivation for what I’m doing and doing only what I feel strongly motivated for.
With a fixed end date for my sabbatical I probably wouldn’t have had these feelings so I see this as a luxury and benefit of taking a sabbatical: a healthy struggle which I have to go through.
I went out cycling yesterday and today to find a spot in nature where I could read, write or create. I didn’t find a good spot for that yesterday but today something happened. While cycling, the journey became the destination. Slowly I started to feel some inner quiet to start doing the things I so badly want to do. That’s when I sat down and wrote this update. Will week 4 start to see increases in productivity? I will let you know next week!
Weekly stats:
  • Running: 34.5km
  • Total weekly steps: 102k
  • Average sleep: 7:19
Thanks for reading!
Broos
CategoriesGeneral

Sabbatical update week 2

Smooth sailing in week 1

After extending my contract till the end of August and our (late) summer holiday was over it felt like my sabbatical really started last week. Everyone was back to work, except for me. I had a speaking engagement on Tuesday evening and still had to prepare part of it so the week started off in a productive mode. Cracking away on my backlog in email and newsfeed made the first week feel like a really productive one.

Feeling productive or ‘in the flow’ is an important factor in how I feel overall.

The challenge in week 2

No more deadlines, no email overload, in essence no more urgencies. Week 2 was of to a different start. And I still hadn’t set my sabbatical goals. So after a few ‘unproductive’ days Thursday was the day. I went through the process of setting my priorities for the coming months and selecting the activities I’m committing towards out of all the ideas I have for my sabbatical. On top of that, I deliberately uncommitted to some others, such as writing a book. My goals for my sabbatical can broadly be summarized in the following 7 categories:

  1. Develop and maintain a healthy & productive routine
  2. Develop myself creatively & share with the world
  3. Spend time with friends & family
  4. Travel
  5. Develop a smart passive income project
  6. Search for co-founders
  7. Commit to new vocational activities for the next decade
Sabbatical goals

With that out of the way, nothing is holding me back to be productive again, right?

Wrong.

Friday and Saturday passed and I still not found myself executing on these goals. What is holding me back? A little soul searching let to (a first) answer. The goals I set require longer blocks of time to achieve anything meaningful or rewarding. Developing my designer skills is not something you achieve in the time you write an email, hold a conference call or have a meeting. It requires weeks of practice, sometimes even without feeling like you make progress. I simply can’t find the inner piece to do that (yet). I guess shifting away from the corporate urgency with short cycles of adrenaline shots for every meeting, email or call takes some time. Let’s see what week 3 will be like.

What I did

Thanks for reading!

Broos

CategoriesGeneral

How NOT to start your sabbatical

August 1st marked the first day of my sabbatical. Yes, I am leaving EY and moving on to other adventures. But starting my sabbatical was different than expected. The photo below is not my own, I’m not on leave yet…

matt-flores-57256
Photo by Matt Flores on Unsplash

For two months I’ve been planning to get everything finished before August 1st. I imagined waking up that day would be a strange – yet exciting – feeling, for the first time in over a decade no work related items on my todo list. A feeling of freedom and liberation was expected but as the day approached it became clear that I could not finalise everything I had committed to. It felt like a first day of regular annual leave except for that I didn’t have a flight booked so no pressure to cross these last items off my list.

On the second day of my leave I did a 7km run during midday. It felt miserable. Instead of the energetic feeling I normally have after a run I felt guilty that I wasn’t at work. Even though it is the peak of the holiday season, the only people out and about are retired couples and lonely men fishing. Lesson learned, running ought to be done first thing in the morning or in the evening. Result: the 11km morning run yesterday was a great and I was full of energy.

Slowly I’m working my way through my remaining work items and adjusting to a productive leave rhythm. Frequent blogging is going to be part of that rhythm.

CategoriesGeneral

My (blog’s) elevator pitch

Taipei 101 elevator
Taipei 101 elevator

In an attempt to start blogging more frequently I watched a recording of Michael Hyatt’s webinar “Blog Faster and Blog Smarter“.  Today I’ve started reading a challenge called “31 Days to Build a Better Blog“. The first challenge is to write an elevator pitch for your blog (or actually what I’m all about personally). So here we go for a few first drafts. Short versions:

  1. Inspiration and actionable insights for founders and innovators with some bits of travel and photography.
  2. To help startups, scaleups and corporate innovators get to market leadership faster.
  3. Supporting startups, scaleups and innovators get going and growing
  4. (My) thoughts and learnings on entrepreneurship, innovation, travel and photography
  5. Helping founders and innovators struggle through the valley of death and the steep climb of the growth curve

Giving the above some further thought and reading my bio again for now I’ll settle on: “Thoughts and inspiration on startups, scaleups and innovation with some bits of travel and photography

Since and elevator ride in my favorite elevator (the Taipei 101) takes about 40 seconds the more extended version of my pitch is something like this:

On a daily basis I work with the most gifted entrepreneurs getting startups going, scaleups growing and corporate innovations thriving. Together we share the joy and the hardship it takes to grow these ventures to market leaders. The lessons learned and the inspiration gained deserve to be shared to help you succeed in your entrepreneurial endeavours. Company growth and growth on a personal level go hand in hand. Leadership, personal development, technology, photography and travel are other things on my mind. I also consider these worth sharing so they will find their way into my stories and hopefully act as source of inspiration and facilitate a more personal connection.