The Business Transition Blog

Set a Goal to Take a Sabbatical

New Mexico

We took a trip around North America in a small RV

In 2007, my wife Dawna and I decided to plan for and take a sabbatical of six months traveling around North America in a recreational vehicle. I had a few goals that were important to me.

  1. I wanted to rekindle my relationship with Dawna. We had been married for over 30 years and we weren’t as close as I wished. We knew we could do better, and living together for six months in such tight quarters would either strengthen our relationship or kill it. We figured it was better to know now, while we were both still relatively young, which way it was going to go.
  2. I wanted to give the employees at my two main companies some space and a chance to run things without me overseeing them. While I had taken some of the actions I’ve discussed in my book, I knew I wasn’t completely there yet, so this would be an excellent test to expose any cracks and determine what was still required to expand my freedom from my historically hard-driving pace at work. There’s nothing like jumping into ice-cold water to find out where the holes in your wetsuit  are.
  3. I wanted some time to research and begin writing a book on business transition and succession planning. I wanted to meet and interview entrepreneurs in many locations who had sold their businesses whether successfully or unsuccessfully, triumphantly or with regrets. I knew that their personal experiences and what they learned through the process could benefit other business owners who were, as you are now, looking at their options.
  4. With some sense of urgency, I wanted to travel and do things that I could still do which would become progressively more difficult the longer I put them off. Driving long distances was becoming painful. Simply getting in and out of our RV was hard work and any serious hiking was out of the question. Yet even with the understanding that I already had limitations, there were countless places to see and things to do that had to be undertaken and enjoyed, now or never.

We began planning our trip about a year in advance. We set a date and began to work backwards. I soon realized that there was very little literature or written advice that I could find to help us prepare for a sabbatical. We had to figure out much of this on our own. One book that was helpful is Six Months Off by Dlugozima, Scott, and Sharp. In a current search, I see that there are another half dozen books written more recently so the topic is becoming more popular.

In my next blog, I’ll be giving an example of a goal strategy that worked and provided us both with 6 months off.