Sliding into my sabbatical

My sabbatical officially starts tomorrow but truth be told I’ve barely worked for the last three weeks due to a combination of leave and stress. I’ve been lurking on Slack and keeping an eye on my emails – popping in with the occasional comment or contribution but it hasn’t been much and now it won’t be anything.

Basically I have the next 20 weeks off with no responsibilities (apart from my jury duty) and currently very little in the way of plans. Actually that isn’t quite true – by week 16 I need to have decided whether I am returning to work at Foundry4 or resign. At the moment I really couldn’t tell you which way that will go…and that feels really weird.

I made some money from selling my shares in our Group – not life changing money but for the first time in my life it is breathing space money. I know this is a real privilege and I don’t want to waste it.

My priority is to recover both physically and mentally – I am already starting to feel like I am starting to make a little progress there – but there is also this big question about how I ensure I never get to this point again…because this isn’t the first time I’ve crashed like this but it was the worst by a long way and I doubt I’ve got another recovery in me.

There are a lot of strands to prevent that but one of them is certainly professional. My preferred ways of working include a deep connection to the kind of work I do, and who I do it for, as well as my commitment to operating in the open. Increasingly that has been difficult to balance with a growing jadedness with the lack of wider progress in that work – how many times can you have the same conversations, see the same mistakes, rage about the same decisions – combined with the cognitive dissonance of primarily making a living working for a Government that often disgusts me.

I’m not a resilient guy and any reserves I might have built up have long since crumbled. 

So what does this mean practically? At the moment I suspect the healthiest thing for me would be a complete break from the digital (central) government world but that is a big deal as (1) I have more friends in that community than anywhere these days and (2) honestly will I be of any use anywhere else? 

I really don’t know – so much of my professional identity is wrapped up with the rise of the post-Alphagov version of digital government now (it wasn’t always) and so much of my (professional) value is my ability to navigate its network.

Who knows? Honestly this post is just to get this out of my head as my intention isn’t really to try and figure this out for a while…but it does need figuring out.

In the meantime my plans are to avoid becoming a hermit so if anyone fancies meeting up for lunch or early evening drinks/grub give me a shout.

I’m mainly in Bristol but happy to pop over to Cardiff, Newport or Bath at any point (apart from the first couple of weeks of September – aforementioned jury duty.)

I’ll be in London w/c 20th September for the whole week.

I’ll probably be in Brighton for a few days after that.

I’ll be in and around Leeds w/c 8th November (before Thoughtbubble).

At some point I’ll be in Swansea and Glasgow.

I’m also open to other suggestions for places to visit.

3 comments

  1. Maybe catch up in Bristol some time when it’s quieter and safer? Hoping you are able to get a revitalising break. J

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