Wouldn’t we all love to do so? Is it even possible? Why would anyone want to? If I unplug can I ever go back into the matrix? Do you end up as an outcast or enlightened?
So many questions… So many variable answers…
So, as there isn’t a whole lot else to blog about, I thought that I would share some of my insights of unplugging from the working world matrix for 12 months. Yes, that’s right, we’re about a month off the anniversary of the DN journey commencing at the end of June 2013. So now is the best time to pass on my highly dubious wisdom in the unlikely and rare event you’re thinking about becoming a Hobo, or as I like to say, a Globo (Global Hobo). First, a couple of caveats:
- I am mindful that this proposition is rather difficult moving into impossible if you have a family or dependents. Yes, it can be done, but with rather more planning and tolerance (like a shit load more)
- I’m not talking here about “We just sold our company for $12.8m and have decided to move to Tuscany for a year” type of arrangement either.
To be fair, this concept of a year out wasn’t new to me. I recall being at a party in my early 20’s when I was introduced to a dude that looked like he was the love child of Arnie and the ROCK. Yes, he was ripped beyond what could be considered normal. I asked him what he did aside from mainlining creatine and eating 14 chickens per day and his answer was “Pump iron”, ignoring my suspicions of massive roid usage, I enquired what he did for a job? “I don’t work… I took a year out to work out“. I stared blankly at him… I was all Robo and zero Hobo at this stage in life, so I was horrified by the prospect someone would do such a thing, or why. Cue all those cheesy fucking posters put on Fuckbook and Linkedin about “Don’t let anyone stand in front of your dreams blah blah cunt blah blah”, you know those ones people post and then never follow? Turns out that the Arnie/Rock love child had saved up for a year and taken a year out to just smash tin. I dismissed such bizarreness as an abhorred anomaly and promptly got back to being a corporate robot hunter/killer.
Want to get out of that cubicle and away from the muppet sitting next to you that wants to tell you about his trip to the Mall on the weekend, but are still sitting on the fence a little? The first thing you want to do is work out your number. No, not how many people you’ve smashed from the office, but instead your ‘working life ahead number’. Its a simple exercise, but one that can have a compelling if not depressing outcome. Here we go:
First – Take the arbitrary retirement age of 65 years old. Minus from this the age you were when you first started working…
Now, subtract from that number of years you’ve been working already… The result is how many years you have left to work.
Aside from confirming I am shit at maths, my number was 30. Yes, 15 years in and still had double of that left to go. The point of getting this perspective is contextual, to give the perspective that fuck, there is still a loooong way to go through the best years of your physical life before you call time on routine.
It should give you motivation and comfort that its ok to take time out and take a different path, assuming you don’t have a mortgage in Auckland or aren’t supporting a hooker/gambling/cat-fetish habit. Besides, there are lots of upsides to unplugging from the Matrix:
1. Know before you go…
This is not something to do lightly… Depending on your career path and profession, this may seem like a damn weird decisions, as such, there are a few things you need to consider or work on before punching out:
- Your network is key – This is both your professional network and also the network of people you will interact with or hang with on your year out. Just because you’ve punched out, doesn’t mean everyone else has, so to avoid carbonite freezing isolation, work out who you are going to roll with and how that’s going to work. On the work network front, this is key for both short term work (assuming you need the cash flow), but also for eventual re-entry into the Matrix, assuming you want to come back
- Mission clarity – You need to work out what you’re actually going to do… It has to have a point to it. Perhaps its to play Call of Duty for 12 months (nothing wrong with that), climb X mountains, ride in X countries, become a Scottish Porn star, doesn’t matter what, as long as there is some sort of framework and overarching mission or goal. I wouldn’t recommend a year out to watch daytime TV (which is super shit FYI)… Super awkward to explain to people what you are doing when you’e asked. You also need something to keep your brain ticking over, whether it be starting a blog (highly recommend if you’re a narcissist) or working in a consulting capacity for the NSA, its best to have something to challenge the mind
- This is not for everyone – If you’re a drone (chances are you’re not if you’re reading this), then you need to consider if doing something like this is really for you. If you’re prone to anxiety, need security or have an OCD for a daily routine, then leaving that all behind could result in you coming apart at the seams faster than a 1930’s Zepplin. Make sure that your personality type can cope. Then again, also consider it may be the best thing for you, cue cheesedick poster about living outside your comfort zone etc (again, posted by people who never actually do).
2. Planning fever
Got past the initial pre-req tests? Still keen to kick it for a year or so? Well, its planning time. Planning is key to making sure you maximise funds and have shit lined up in advance. I didn’t plan at all and it was pretty much random, so can’t really stand on a soap box here, and while spontaneity is important, having a plan is also useful to make sure you can hook up the best times. Sit down, work out what you want to do, when and plan it out.
If you’re into outdoors stuff, you need to factor seasons and locations and then structure trips around that usually. This includes taking into account events that may be happening (which is pretty easy in the cycling world) and go from there. Planning properly also leads to lower costs, something that I found out the hard way through my random activities… Which leads me beautifully to my next point…
3. A word on costs
Everyone has a different set up here, you may have saved up, you may have interim work contracting or as a bad Barista, perhaps you’ve received some corporate ‘sponsorship’ or you may have inherited some cash. Whatever your flava, some points worth considering:
- Cut costs and save now – Don’t wait, if you’re 3 months out from leaving work, adjust your habits now! Go through all your costs and start to ruthlessly assassinate that frivolous spend now, such as the weekly lap dance, as well as upping your savings proactively.
- Shit is going to change – You need to accept that most likely, how you rolled when working won’t carry over into your year out. But, there is something liberating in not flushing cash on shit you don’t need. Whilst I am no hippy, you will soon realise that you can actually operate on a lot less money than you originally thought you could. Turns out I didn’t need 9 pairs of Diesel shoes or 5 cycling mags that I didn’t read each month… List down your penchants for wasting money on and then pop a cap in them one by one. Controlling your regular spend will result in more investment in trips or the passion you’re pursuing. Also put those big ticket items on hold, like buying downhill bikes… hmmmm…
- You vs You – Success in the cost space will ultimately come down to your ability to control you. Accept you won’t be able to roll like you used to and that you may not be able to buy that latest new product being jammed into your grill and you can probably have an awesome year out. Don’t adapt and you may find you’e back at your desk listening to Chad tell you about the latest upgrades he’s made to his Subaru much quicker than you’d like.
4. Now for the good news…
I have probably made it all sound a bit grim, the downsides of being a realist. BUT, there are massive upsides to this caper and I probably need to do a better job of promoting them.
The freedom aspect can’t be highlighted enough. You’re in charge… No dumb fuck giving you poor instructions or asking for a PowerPoint you both know isn’t needed, no coming back from a trip to 250 e-mails and zombies trying to suck your life force with stuff that doesn’t really matter (but they consider to be the most important thing ever), no commuting in that horrendous daily pattern, a break from the routine that will still be there for the next 20 or 30 years.
You get to make it about what ever you want it to be, its a rare chance to live life how you want and not structured around how you’ve been conditioned to live as it’s drilled into people by the Matrix. Whether its moving to the beach to surf for a year or riding your bike in the best locations in the world, doing what you’re passionate about for a year is an irreplaceable experience that can become addictive.
If you look at your 45 year career/working life as a whole, taking a year out should almost be mandatory. I know a lot of people wouldn’t actually be able to fill it up with cool stuff to do, but with the right planning and focus it could (and should) become one of the best things you ever do. It will have tough moments and times when you think “What the fuck am I doing?”, but if you have the right plan and can hook up with the right people who share your enthusiasm for doing things a little differently, then you will have a golden time. Not everyone will get it, but then again, they don’t have to – Only you need to.
Plus, the biggest upside is you get to fuck everyone off massively with your Instagram pics, assuming you’re not taking a year out to play golf or grow veges.