When I saw this TEDtalk called, “The Power of Time Off”, I was understandably intrigued. Since I’ve just come off of a year-long break from blogging, speaking, and writing, I’m trying to figure out how to frame what I’ve gone through. You should check out the talk, though it’s a bit long at just under eighteen minutes.
Certainly, taking a year off to hang out with my kid would be a valid reason, but I am looking for more. I’m looking for a reason this break made me a better coach/writer/speaker/mother than I was pre-sabbatical.
Deciding what to give up
The first thing I should do is acknowledge that I didn’t give up my main source of income, namely being a coach and administrator at my college. But I did give up the writing and speaking that I so enjoy…I truly benefit from connecting with and learning from other coaches. There was most certainly the risk that everyone would forget about Coach Dawn and all of my cool writing about this amazing profession.
How did I decide what to give up? I broke my life down into parts: work, family, “Coach Dawn”. I don’t know whether or not it’s sad that I can break my life into just three parts, but it fit. I can’t imagine telling my family that I’m going to take a year-long break from them, just as it would be unfathomable to tell my boss that I didn’t want to coach for a year. So…Coach Dawn it was.
Stefan Sagmeister, the TEDtalk speaker, defines work as having three parts (this is so good, I could write a whole post just about this!):
- Job: he needs it for money. Coach Dawn does have a revenue aspect that was helpful.
- Career: he’s interested in advancement and promotion. I can see myself, when I’m ready to move on to the next challenge, doing Coach Dawn full time…so this definition is spot on.
- Calling: intrinsically fulfilling, he’d do his job for free. I didn’t get into writing this blog for cash, but to connect with other coaches who are passionate about their profession…that makes this a good working definition for me.
Giving up Coach Dawn was tough, but I don’t know that “giving up” is the proper term. I freed up space to focus on being better. I had to decide whether or not Coach Dawn was worth my time and effort. Was it helping or hurting my coaching? Going through the job/career/calling thing was helpful for me.
The big picture
Sure, I want to win games and championships, just like any other coach. More than that, though, my sabbatical afforded me the time to think about my impact on the young ladies on my team. It gave me time to wonder about my influence on my campus. Most importantly, my time off gave me time to miss writing and speaking.
Taking a break doesn’t have to take a year. It can take a semester, a month, or a week. I think this idea goes against the coaching culture: working less now to pay dividends in the future. Is there something you can set aside that will free you up to draft a plan to become a better you?