After a year of planting seeds, planning, and anticipating, I have now officially started a 3-month sabbatical. Here’s my Out of Office message:
I am on a Leave of Absence from April 22 through July 31. The purpose of my LOA is… well… to have summer vacation again. To cook good food, exercise daily, sleep deeply, and spend time with my family. Most people ask me “what are you going to do?” The answer is ANYTHING I WANT.
What spurred this unorthodox career move? A designer named Stefan Sagmeister gave a phenomenal TED talk in 2009 entitled “The Power of Time Off“. In that TED talk he explains that people work, work, work, work, then retire at 65 and do nothing. Why not spread that retirement out through your working years? The concept of a mini-retirement was also popularized by author Tim Ferriss in “The 4-Hour Work Week“. This approach to life resonates with me. I have always carefully managed my work/life balance, and this LOA is another manifestation of that same core principle.
I believe I will be a better thinker and a better worker after my time off. The ability to disconnect completely and reconnect months later will enable me to see things with fresh eyes and renewed energy.
To follow the adventure, visit or subscribe to http://derekchristensen.com. I will be posting updates weekly.
I will check my work email at least once during my LOA, but if you have a time-sensitive message for me please email (email address) or call me at (phone number).
I graduated from Brigham Young University with my Masters of Information System Management degree in 2008. I worked as a summer camp counselor that final summer, making next to nothing but loving every minute, then drove my 2001 Honda Accord out to Boston with all my belongings in it. Somewhere in New York State, after my hands-free headset broke and I had finished listening to The 8th Habit by Stephen R Covey, I realized that college was over and my working adult life was beginning.
I’ve spent the past 7.5 years at Accenture doing technology consulting and systems integration for 3 different clients. My projects have almost all involved SAP, and therefore been extremely long. I’ve had a love/hate relationship with those projects. Rarely have I been excited to go to work, but at the same time, I’ve learned an incredible amount about IT, business models, go-to-market strategies, channel partners, project management, financial management, team dynamics, and leadership.
The original plan was to make Manager (typically after 5 years), then go do something else. I made manager 2.5 years ago, but stayed on. I’ve learned and grown a tremendous amount in those past 2.5 years.
The one thing which has been nagging at me is the Gallup poll question “At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day.“. I have generally excelled at the work I’ve done, but the work hasn’t been what I do best every day. I read business books for fun. I’m passionate about strategy and emerging technology. I like to be technical and in the weeds, while at the same time leading teams and groups. I like to teach and present concepts. I want to wear jeans to work. I want to work in a profit center, not a cost center.
During my time off my primary goal is to put myself into contact with new ideas, theories, and business models as often as possible. I will be attending Meetup and user group events at the Microsoft N.E.R.D facility, Cambridge Innovation Center, General Assembly office, Society of Grownups office, and more. I will set aside 3-4 hours each day to work on a project, during the hours I have the most energy (Tony Schwartz – The Energy Project).
Something amazing is going to emerge out of this, and I’m thrilled to find out what it is. Follow along here – I’ll be posting updates weekly.