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A Mini Sabbatical – Floating Down the Mississippi

Updated August 21, 2014
one Comment
River Sabbatical Design McCabe Sagmeister

Tim Brown

Tim Brown is the owner of Hook Agency, an SEO and Web Design company focused primarily on driving traffic and leads for small businesses, roofers and construction companies.

From what I’ve seen some of the most respected designers in the world seem to take intentional breaks for a period of time, to enjoy the world in a raw way, and take some time to get fresh perspective. Sean McCabe suggests doing a week every 7 weeks, and Stefan Sagmeister takes a year off every 7 years. Well, these fine gentlemen obviously have some rainy day funds, but what about a designer who’s just learning how to keep a bit of money in the bank?

Well… I’ve decided to take a week and float down the Mississippi with my good friend from Texas.

Not only will I be connecting with nature and allowing the raw experience refresh and challenge me, but I’ll be chatting with an intellectual challenging but positive confidant while I do it. This will be my mini-sabbatical. We’ll be kayaking 20-30 miles a day out of Minneapolis and into the south-eastern most part of Wisconsin, camping on the side of the river, and taking little adventures along the coast. When there is a lock or dam in our way we’ll portage around it and get back on the river.

I don’t think there is much opportunity to make this into a working vacation, and I think that that’s pretty appropriate to round off the summer. This way I’ll be pretty well pushed to keep myself away from my workaholism for a bit and throw myself into the adventure whole-heartedly.

This past summer I took a trip with my girlfriend out to Yellowstone national park, and then on the way back we stopped in Rapid City, South Dakota and I canvased the area looking for a client. I was somewhat fresh-faced and ready to be as useful as I could to whatever kind of client would have me. The whole experience panned out, and after an hour and a half I found a pastor at a coffee shop who needed a website for his church.

The next day we met up for coffee and him and his right hand man paid me a deposit and I was on my way. After ‘Old Faithful,’ buffalo, a hitch-hiker and a lot of camping I used part of the deposit to stay at a decent hotel on the way back without feeling like the trip was getting too expensive. All in all, I’d say adventures where you work in a bit of salesmanship along the way could be super fun. Bring a stack of brochures and some business cards on your next adventure, if you’re not necessarily in need of a full-on sabbatical.

Cater to your constitution, be intentional about your time off

There are just times in a career that it makes sense to step away, absorb the ambience of everything else in your life, maybe do something challenging and become more of who you’re suppose to be. Some time off with a purposeful intent can help you do just that. Of course, lazy time off with no real purpose may actually decrease your energy if your constitution is one that gets more tired when you do nothing. Sometimes, I feel just that; that when I allow myself to just float in the wind a bit, I find myself drained. Whereas, sometimes when I push myself to my limit, get a bit of rest and then push again, I find myself feeling much more energized. It really depends on your style and constitution.

Ask yourself these questions:

    • Am I the type of person who’s energized by rest and relaxation?
    • Am I the type of person who’s energized by pushing myself to mental or physical limits?
    • Is there any type of adventure that I’ve been putting off for too long, because I haven’t taken the initiative organize my work around it?

Of course there are many people who rest and relax too often. We all know a chronic partier or the person where you wonder how they are able to fund all of their vacations. If that is you, this point is not for you. But for me, I need this. Sometimes it’s important to say what will I remember about my experiences now, and how can I make memories.

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For me, this next week floating down the Mississippi will be just that, creating memories with a positive friend intentionally. My work will be better, my brain will feel as though it has gotten its due time for stimulating leisure and intentional adventure. (Maybe it will be more work than I thought too.) I’m sure to share some of the adventure here on my blog when I get back.

The article from Your Sabbatical linked above says Stefan Sagmeister’s year break usually generates money-making ideas that drive the next big chunk of his career. He even turned down tempting work while on sabbatical, declining an offer to design an Obama campaign poster during one his years off. 5% of the people attending the Ted conference pictured below had taken a sabbatical. Have you?

Here is Stefan Sagmeister’s Ted Talk about his year sabbatical every 7 years.


Have any adventures that you might like to go on, that you may have been putting off. Do you think a sabbatical could do you some good? Tell me about it in the comments.


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Tim Brown

Tim Brown is the owner of Hook Agency, an SEO and Web Design company focused primarily on driving traffic and leads for small businesses, roofers and construction companies.

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