A sabbatical post-mortem Finish your career in just nine weeks!

Imagine you are preparing for an early semi-retirement — forced, necessary. Perhaps for health reasons. It’s not the end of your life, or even strictly the end of your career, but it’s probably your last chance to get anything big done. You have a couple months to cram in as much as you can. How do you handle it?

This is what I just did to myself.

When my wife told me that she was going to go to India for nine weeks, I thought, nine weeks?! Nooo, too long! I will be lonely and pathetic by the end! But then: Yesss! I am going to get so much work done …

When your wife is travelling abroad these days, you can track her iPhone on a map. Sometimes this information is a relief. Or it can scare the crap out of you.

Both predictions were correct. For years I have had a workaholic’s fantasy of a period of pure, intense productivity. To really buckle down, you have to be an anti-social bachelor. I finally got my shot at this, and I put in 14 hours per day of work for all of December and January.

I took only three days off. I saw almost no one. I rarely left my home office. I barely spoke. I learned to like black coffee.

Crazy times.

Sort of the end of my career

For extra flavour, I also knew this would be the last workaholic push of my life. If I don’t stop working like a madman There Will Be Consequences. Although my wife is an inveterate traveller, it’s not a coincidence she left for nine weeks — she was a little bored. Time for a change.

So I didn’t just work unusually hard, I tried to “finish my career” — tie up all the major loose ends, anyway — before a proper holiday, and then permanent semi-retirement. Part-time work for the rest of my life, that is. (When I’m 65, the timesheet of my life will be about the same as anyone who punched the clock 9 to 5 for a few decades — it’s just that I’ve already put in the majority of my hours.)

So I worked as hard as I possibly could for nine weeks. What do I have to show for it? What have I learned? Time for a post-mortem.

My wife on an archaeology tour near Bundi, with a couple new friends. Not all her travels are this rustic, but she definitely gets out and about.

The lessons

And now I’m on holiday, which apparently involves blogging. Obviously I couldn’t pull off true sloth if my life depended on it.

Next up: Was it really a “sabbatical”?

Capturing the mood. There were long stretches of fog in downtown Vancouver in December and January. This is the Granville Island Ferry dock, pathos edition.