It’s About the Time (Not Just the Dime)

(Please welcome our guest writer, Mr Kirk Horsted.)

Hello dear readers,

Kirk Horsted, Our Guest Poster

I’m an imposter—not the real Michael.  However, he graciously invited me to submit a guest-post to his blog, so here goes.

My credentials include 4 sabbaticals in the past 20 years as well as a blog containing stories about my adventures and helpful short-term sabbatical travel tips.  If you want to take a peek the URL is makeyourbreakaway.com.

I know that many people say they’d like to take a temporary break from work, but precious few do, claiming that it is impossible because of their job.   However, I am living proof that a wide range of professionals, not just professors, can schedule one of these life changing getaways.  I am one-half of the firm 2 Heads Communications, a Minneapolis creative arts agency known for its copywriting and ideas—as well as its peculiar practice of occasionally closing up shop to take short-term career sabbaticals.   These breaks have ranged from 69 to 355 days, from Grandma’s farm to around the world travel.  Sadly, though, unlike Michael’s odysseys, they have all been on MY dime.

Of course, I’d rather have someone else pay for my wanderlust, and maybe that will happen someday.  In the meantime, though, a wonderful trend is emerging right here in the USA:  People are less obsessed with spending and more concerned about enjoying the time they have on this Earth.  That matters when you start planning your own professional BreakAway.

So what’s the secret? In my case, one secret to sneaking away from my job is self-employment.  Sure, it’s scary sometimes, since there is little income while I am gone, but the payoff is time, which I now value far more than the boss’s dime.  Beyond that, the biggest secret is to simply live within your means, as I preach in my one-page money manifesto, “11 Commandments to Fiscal Fitness.”

The upside of downturns:

While few folks are cheering this relentless recession, there does seem to be a movement against focusing exclusively on the size of one’s bank balance.  Could it be that we’ve discovered that McMansions won’t make us happy—and are no fun to keep clean?  Could we finally have enough “stuff?”  Could we have learned that the wisest investment may not be great stocks but great memories?   Sure, I miss the NASDAQ at 5,000, but I’m enjoying the wave of values clarification and thoughtfulness expansion that happens when portfolio and housing values shrink.  Making friends can bring as much personal reward as making money.

In today’s paper, a local consumer behaviorist disses the Consumer Confidence Index and describes how “Americans feel good about not overspending.”  Just two days ago, columnist Kristin Tillotson shared stories of families now “Living with less, on purpose.”   And my favorite (hey, he’s a friend) comes from travel writer Leif Peddersen.  He had to coin a new word for his blunt self-help guide:  “Slackerology 101:  Five steps to clearing out your life of the clutter and excess to make time for what really counts—like chilling out or learning more about the world around us.”   Leif ought to know.  He’s spent years traveling—both on his and The Man’s dime.

Ah, the Joys of Travel

So thanks, Michael, for the chance to suggest that when someone else won’t pay you to travel to your heart’s content, there are other ways.  Be practical.  Manage bucks and stuff wisely.  But by all (or any) means, find a way to run away now and then.   I have.  And to put it simply, they have been the best times of my life.

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