Billy's Thoughts

Sabbatical Notes #2

Posted on Jul 19, 2023 — 3 mins read

“Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” - Mike Tyson, modified

Planning is everything, but plans mean nothing. And oh boy did my initial plans go out the window quickly.

The top projects I’d planned to work on were: coaching setup stuff, writing blog posts, and writing fiction. But when I started to actually spend time on these things, I found myself feeling kinda miserable. What the heck?

After doing admittedly a lot of digging into my deeper motivations, I realized that these things weren’t fun for me any more.

These projects were borne out of fun, but had become things I was doing primarily out of a sort of feeling of responsibility to myself – to figure out how to make money again ASAP, or to be industrious (“because that’s Good!” hmmm 🤔), or to stay consistent with what a past version of me had said I wanted to do. What I believed I had to do was a lot of grinding. Get through the initial hump, break through the static friction, and then you get to do the fun stuff. But I’m starting to think that this doesn’t have to be the only way, and maybe more importantly I don’t want to do things this way right now. (To be fair, I think there is a time and a place for this kind of approach. Just now isn’t the time for me.)

With writing specifically, I was running into “editor’s fatigue”, where my internal editor was extremely active and I felt like I was having to fight with him in order to progress. I got stuck editing single sentences or even single words, trying to grasp at feelings I’d envisioned. At one point I realized, “Oh this is what it feels like to miss the forest for the trees.”

When you’re employed and working, tasks and projects are given to you by the company with the goal of ultimately benefiting the company’s bottom line. And you oblige because you’ve entered into a contract with the company, to do work for them for pay. You could enjoy the work or you could hate the work, but either way you probably still do it, because at minimum you’ll get paid for it. But when it’s just you, on sabbatical, doing projects for yourself, there’s fewer places to hide. Hate your work? Stuck doing tedious tasks? Blame your employer! … except wait a sec, that’s you, too.

What broke through for me was chatting with my friends at Give Your Gift, and reframing my thoughts around industry (“to work hard and well at my life tasks”), value, and fun, in searching for a fitting service project for myself.

“What if having fun was sufficiently ‘being of service’?” I was asked.


So now I’m orienting around Finding the Fun!

Like doing activities with a high fun factor! (Like playing drums, which I also ended up choosing as the domain for my service project.) Or modifying project ideas to maximize time spent doing the core thing and minimize the surrounding drudgery! (Like writing while dancing with, and keeping light, my desire to aggressively filter/edit.)

I also don’t mean to say I’m going full hedonist or anything like that. It’s more just (1) making Fun a top priority in whatever I’m doing, and (2) being more aware of how much Fun I’m having. And we’ll see what happens.

Week #4 of my sabbatical, everybody. Keep the emotional work coming.

“The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men // Gang aft agley” - Robert Burns, To a Mouse