Moving to Paris Without Quitting Your Day Job: One Guy’s Sabbatical Secret

September 3, 2009

I’ve often thought that the real trick to life is simply to know when to stop and when to start.

Sometimes, for example, you need to quit a terrible job (Stop) in order to create the motivation and head space to move forward. Other times, you need to try a new business or hobby on the side (Start) to realize the possibilities that a career change might provide without the pressure of quitting. When I talk with people about sabbaticals and lifestyle design, their decision often ends up boiling down to just that: starting or stopping. Eventually both happen, but there’s a critical first step that provides the catalyst for everything, and that step is either forward or backward – a step back from an old life, or a step forward to a new one.

Over at the Art of Non-Conformity, Chris Guillebeau posts an article by Allan Bacon about how he moved his family to Paris for a short sabbatical without quitting his day job. It’s a great example of the start versus stop philosophy from someone who’s done both to create a new life.

I love the opening, when Allan wakes up in Paris:

“When I wake up I can look through the opening in the heavy drapes and see that I am still here. Cool, it wasn’t a dream.”

That’s exactly how I’ve felt on waking up the first day for every sabbatical we’ve ever taken. A strange, slightly scary awareness of, “Whoa. We’re really here. We really did it.”

Allan, who runs a blog called The Avocationist, managed to wrangle a short sabbatical in Paris through a combination of finding the benefit for his company, and using some creative financial tricks like a home swap.

“…instead of taking my kids on a crazy, bleary-eyed tour across Europe, I decided that we should find a way to actually live there long enough to get a taste for what the experience would be like. (Would we kill each other in a city apartment? Would we get bored? Would we go crazy from having to learn how to navigate in a place where we didn’t speak the language?) Of course, none of those things happened.”

This is well worth a read. It’s a great explanation of how to make change in your life, set against one guy’s experience.

Moving to Paris without Quitting My Day Job

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