6 ways of being to adopt on your sabbatical (and afterwards).

25.08.17 | Career break, Fun, Sabbatical, Simple Life

170825 6 ways of being
Reading time: 5 minutes.

To make the most of your career break (and your life), get these six things right.

1. Finances

Go where you can afford … save up before you go, give yourself a budget, add a contingency and then only go where that allows you to go. Having just come back from Norway, I would not advise planning your career break there unless you are a millionaire. Africa or South East Asia are much more affordable. But strike the balance – go where you want to go. This is your sabbatical so if seeing the Northern Lights or the midnight sun is all you’ve ever dreamed of, work a little longer and little harder (or negotiate a better deal to leave your job).

“If money is your hope for independence you will never have it. The only real security that a man will have in this world is a reserve of knowledge, experience, and ability.”

Henry Ford.

6 things to get right: Finances

If you ignore the positive self-help Hay House bullshit that is so fashionable at the moment, these next two are practical tools that will make a big difference to your sabbatical. Although they seem similar, they are two very different practices. Both allow you to be at one with the world and my simple view is that you cannot do either one wrong.

2. Meditate

I practise meditation most mornings in a guided form – my current favourites are Dr. Joe Dispenza’s “Make Your Mind Matter” and Dr. Richard Bandler’s “Deep Reflections”. The deeper I go into trance the better I feel afterwards (although sometimes it’s hard to come back out). This is a practice that I always regret when I don’t do it – in other words, the days when I don’t mediate because I’m too rushed, there comes a point in the day where I wished I had.

I am so busy today that I will have to meditate for twice as long.”

Mahatma Gandhi.


As usual, a Tim Ferriss podcast recommendation. For the world class performers he interviews, most have a common practise of some kind of morning meditation.

Listen to: “The Tim Ferriss Radio Hour: Meditation, Mindset, and Mastery.”

3. Gratitude

This simply aligns you with the universe – the world around you – and focuses on all the good in life, ignoring the bad. After all, every one of us is a “black swan” * – it’s hard to imagine the cosmic undertakings for each and every one of us to be here, so be grateful for it. A practice that I have adopted is as follows: before sleeping I quickly acknowledge three moments in the day that I am grateful for, with the proviso that one must be a simple everyday occurrence – it’s always those little things in life. If you can accept with grace the little things in life, the big ones will take care of themselves.

* Another recommendation: read the amazing book “The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable” by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. Be careful in company as the content goes wonderfully against popular opinion.

“Then a trace of your smile in a photograph
When I’m down and we talk and you make me laugh
That reminds me it’s the little things in life that matter.”
Toto, “The Little Things” (Toto XIV)

4. Slow down

This the biggest lesson I learned from my sabbatical. Once I slowed down, I felt so much better. There is absolutely no need to maintain the frantic pace of life. Walk slowly – let the hustlers go past; drive appropriately – let the speed kings race past (and then catch them up at the next intersection). Once you adopt this slower pace, your thinking slows down too – the monkey mind abates and the meditations and gratitude becomes much easier. So cycle instead of driving, stroll instead of walking, jog instead of running – marathons are one the most insane acts in the world, especially to someone with a dodgy knee. You can choose to be in the human race or a human being.

“Nature never hurries, yet everything is accomplished.”

Lao Tzu.


A further Tim Ferriss podcast recommendation. The whole podcast with the amazing Derek Sivers is educational, however for this subject on slowing down, listen from 28:31 minutes for the “Lessons learned from the Santa Monica bike path”.

Listen to: “Derek Sivers on Developing Confidence, Finding Happiness, and Saying “No” to Millions.”

5. Be non-judgemental

Let all them thoughts go. Don’t try too hard. Just be.

We are flawed humans and so we judge and evaluate often much to quickly and hence have prejudiced views based on very little evidence. We automatically jump to it being a beautiful tree, a tall tree or an old tree, rather than just a tree; it is a busy tram or an empty tram or a late tram. Without consciously thinking, we place descriptions on everything. Check your thoughts next time you break for a stimulating, strong coffee. Try stopping this for a while; see if you can accept things as they are with no prejudice – just be the witness, the observer. Stuff is just stuff.

This ability to accept things as they are, of being present rather than regretting the past or desiring the future are central themes in my new book “Fantafrica”. Having this philosophy when I travelled through Africa allowed me to accept the differences much more fully and ignore the preconceptions I had.

“The ability to observe without evaluating is the highest form of intelligence.”

Jiddu Krishnamurti

6 things to get right: Non-judgemental

6. Why worry

We get so stressed about what could go wrong, that we almost will it to happen. It is Murphy’s Law – anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. Yet actually what does go wrong is something completely different, usually something unforeseen. So then (as Mark Knopfler said) why worry.

Travelling from Dakar to Cape Verde, Senegal Airlines went bankrupt five days before my flight leaving me stranded for a day in Dakar and resulted in taking two four hour flights instead of the planned one hour trip. Coming back from Nordkapp, my flights from Honningsvåg were cancelled due to inclement weather, meaning a two hour coach ride, an overnight stay in the middle of nowhere and then another coach ride for three hours and further missed connections. What’s the problem? I got to my destination eventually and enjoyed the revised itinerary.

There is a saying that we only regret what we didn’t do, not what we did do. Whilst I don’t fully subscribe to that, there is an element of truth in that if we never take any risks, we will never do anything.

“Chance, or what might seem to be chance, is the means through which life is realised. The problem is not to blame or explain but to handle the life that arises. The best advice is to take it all as if it had been of your intention.”
Joseph Campbell
6 things to get right: Why worry

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