Welcome to 2013! Let’s take the year off

It’s the first day of a new year – a time when many of us think about what lies ahead and what we’d like to get from the coming 12 months.

I remember one year I had a go at one of those elaborate exercises to review the previous year, set lots of goals for the new year, and plot a methodical course to get there – but I lost the will to live before I even finished the exercise.

Here’s something more fun and potentially far more effective…

Let’s take the year off.

Imagine this: you just got handed a cheque for a year’s income and you get to take the whole of this coming year off work. You don’t have to do anything to earn money for the next 365 days.

Welcome to freedom

What will you do?

You might break out the champagne. Then perhaps take a month or two to go on holiday, rest, catch up with friends, get all that stuff done off your To Do list that’s been hanging around forever.

But then what?

Will you really sit on a beach sipping cocktails for a year?

What will you do when you’re finally rested and start getting bored? What will you itch to do? Write a book? Throw yourself into your love of photography, art, or design? Do something geeky like building an app? Go learn something you’re fascinated by? Have a go with that business idea you’ve been thinking about?

(Oh and to help remove any other obstacles, imagine you have a blank cheque for anything you need to do these things – to buy that castle you want to renovate, the round the world air ticket, the home studio)

Grab a scrap of paper (or your ‘Playbook’) and start writing.

Share it with us

Leave a comment and share something of what you’d do on your year off.

Next week we’ll look at how to make it happen – even if you don’t win the lottery.

Wishing you a very happy and playful 2013.


Kindle and iBooks editions of Screw Work Let’s Play

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Get Screw Work Let’s Play on Kindle in the UK here

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The bestselling book is has now been translated into 7 languages around the world: Italian, Dutch, Czech, Russian, Thai, Korean, and Marathi.

Screw Work Let's Play

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  • Michael

    Hi John
    Just wanted to say, what an excellent post to start the new year with. I think you totally nailed it.

  • Malgorzata Piatkowska

    I’ve already done the “imagine you have a year off and unlimited funds” exercise when I was going through your book. Obviously, one piece of paper was not enough 😉 Most of my plans were regarding learning: foreign languages, drawing and design, new programming languages, reading specific books etc. Unfortunately, I cannot afford a year off, but I’m trying to incorporate some of these plans into my new year’s resolutions. One of them being finishing your book and spending more time on promoting my jewellery business 🙂 In the meantime, I signed up for Irish language courses. Happy new year, John! Thanks for inspiring all unhappy corporobots 🙂

  • johnsw

    Thanks Michael!

  • johnsw

    Sounds like fun, Malgorzata! Have a good year.
    (PS I love the corporobot word)

  • Stephanie

    hey john, 
    congrats  for the new translations. 
    if I’d have a year-off with funding – i’d stay where i am currently with my teachers and learn and exercise more and continue this adventurous journey of increasing mobility in my own life and for others.
    without an idea for extended funding – I’ll return to my home country in 2,5 months 😉
    all the best for 2013!

  • Dgcadogan

    Umm … Interesting question.

    You know, thinking about it, 1 year simply wouldnt be enough. My dream is to complete a PhD in workforxe development. Did my Masters in the subject a couple of years ago and would like to take my applied academic knowledge to another level.

  • Tim Bourne

    It’s a little over a year since I read the ‘Screw work let’s play’ book while relaxing poolside on vacation in Corfu. The book, others that I read and the passage of time helped  make me realise that lots of those clichés about it not being a rehearsal were true and that sending e-mails from a corporate open plan office  was not what I was here for. I made the decision to find out what I wanted from life and In October 2012 I left a fairly secure job to work out just that. For the last couple of months I have started adjusting to my life and timetable being my own and 2013 will be a time where I hope to help others and improve the way I live my life. 

  • Great, Tim. My tip is always to do projects you’re excited by that produce something tangible. 

  • Ode Andersson

    I have to get deep (deeper) into drawing/painting and music! 🙂

  • David Barker

    I create two studios spaces, one for wood and one for music. 
    I’d continue to work developing and running the ‘Heart Festivals’ I am creating with my festival partner. 
    I’d have a web site built for all that I do. 
    I’d re validate my helicopter licence, and take any friends, or kids who wanted to fly for trips.
    I’d build a beautiful timber house in the countryside. I’d go on cycling and kayaking trips in nature with lovely people.
    It’s been great to write it down here, and see it so clearly. Thanks for the idea John.

  • Lovely stuff – I want a ride in your helicopter, David!

  • Ann

    I would get out more!  Spend more time with friends and getting to know new people.  I’d also focus on the course I’m doing, and, with the help of the bank cheque, get my house built! 

  • Nice. I bet you could do some of that now though?

  • nanceemcp

    I like how concise this post is, John. I’m on a travel nurse assignment in San Diego with 3 wks left until I go back home (Greater Los Angeles). Many of the things I’d do I will be doing this year, just slower.

    I am renting the mother in law apt behind my daughter’s house when I get home and will be 1) putting in a garden 2) starting a blog 3) riding horses again – there’s a small stable with 3 horses about 40ft from my back door 4) systematically working through all the classes and wkshps I bought in the last year and didn’t get to 5) starting 2 funds – one for travel and one for more courses…  🙂   love your book and blog and hope to sign up for one of your 30 day courses this year!

  • Karmaqueen2000

    I would set up the posh campsite that I dreamt about a couple of nights ago and can’t get out of my head. It had those shiny american bullet type vintage caravans. I woke up really excited by the idea of this business.

  • Lisa

    i’d buy the run down house around the corner and do it up creating for myself (and parents) a wonderful spanish home. it’s big enough to then have my own fitness studio in to train clients and run classes and courses….

    oh and i’d go race lots of triathlons…….

  • Gaelle2208

    Hi John,
    I would slow down, take more time to see the sun rise and set every day, meditate even more than I do now, take walks in the country, spend half that year in India, learn tabla and hindi, and qualify as a coach…
    Happy New Year

  • Kevin James McAuley

    Ahh john what a great concept!

  • Ooh I like that idea. Is there any way to scale this down I wonder and start it sooner rather than later?

  • Kenny

    Hello John,


    It’s very interesting and timely to read your post, as I’ve
    done something to kick-start this process; I resigned on New Year’s Eve. I have
    no definitive plan what I will do once I have worked my notice period, yet I know
    I will use my time from here on in to determine the career or enterprise that
    will provide a lasting sense of fulfilment. Look forward to seeing next week’s post!

  • Exciting times, Kenny! Wish you the best with it…

  • Great stuff! Keep March free, Nancee…