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What Would You Do With a Year Off?

What Would You Do With a Year Off?

By Chelsea Roff

Close your eyes. Imagine for a moment that you had a year — 365 days, 8,760 hours, 525,600 minutes — to do anything you please, with $100,000 to cover your expenses. Would you travel? Would you continue working and give the money to charity? Would you take the time to simply do nothing, maybe go on retreat?

Last week, Mallika†encouraged readers to consider what they would do if they had a year off. I have to say, my first inclination was default to the “make-the-world-a-better-place” answer– give it to charity, of course! I mean, I know this may sound crazy, but I love working. Even if I had a year off, I don’t think I could bring myself to drop my job and do nothing. So if my ideal year would include working anyway, why not give it away, especially when we know that†contributing to others’ happiness is a†much greater source of joy and fulfillment than anything money could buy?

But as I thought about it more, I remembered the words of a friend I have who keeps trying to convince me of the important of “leisure” and “pleasure” in my life. I know, foreign concepts for the modern workaholic, right? A few months ago, when I went to visit her in Miami, her assignment for me was to get a pedicure once a month — which has been surprisingly difficult for me to actually follow through on. I have a hard time slowing down, relaxing, engaging in an activity simply for the sake of enjoying it.

I†have always wanted to travel. I’ve never ventured outside the US (not even to Mexico or Canada), and I’ve long wanted to visit other cultures — learn about how they find happiness, purpose, and meaning in their lives. Taking a year off for travel… now that would be cool. But would it be fulfilling? Would I be mentally, physically, and spiritually satisfied with taking a year off to travel?

What if, I thought, I could combine those three things somehow? Create a year-long project that would combine the work I love (writing), giving back (service/charity), and the leisure (travel)? What would that project look like?

Here’s what I came up with. If I had $100,000 to take a year off, this is what I would do:

  • Take a writing tour of charity organizations in four different countries around the world, spending three months deeply immersed in each community
  • Listen and learn about how each organizationís programming is benefiting the community and transforming individualsí daily lives
  • Document the experience through a series of articles that synthesize personal stories, scientific research, historical background, etc
  • Highlight major social issues affecting underserved communities (poverty,†violence against women, water shortage, climate change, HIV/AIDS, etc) and what people are doing to help
  • Record†interviews with staff, volunteers, scientific researchers, and other involved professionals at each nonprofit to shed light on best practices
  • Compile all the articles into a book at the end of the year

So that’s my dream year. Heck, maybe that’s my dream life. I think it’s a good recipe for happiness: find meaningful work, connect with people, give back to your community, and take time to enjoy the ride.†I guess, really, you don’t need $100,000 to do that.

What about you? What would your dream year look like?†What do you think is a recipe for a happy year and fulfilling life?

Gold Peak Tea is giving away $100,000 to one deserving person to do whatever — whether it be travel the world, write a book, start a nonprofit, or simply kick back and enjoy the comforts of†home. To enter, you can fill out the application on their†Facebook.

Related posts at Intent Blog:
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The World’s Largest Yoga Class Will Only Cost $675,000… What Else Could You Do With That Money?
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The Epidemic of Rape in the Military

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Chelsea, selected from provides content and community for who you aspire to be--personally, socially and globally. Follow Intent on Twitter here.


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11:02AM PDT on Aug 28, 2012

I'd travel, spend a few weeks in each major place ive wanted to see. sight see. give to some charities.. get to know everyone I can... sigh. go to museums around the world, and to libraries, and zoos and ... the possibilities are endless

12:21AM PDT on Jul 8, 2012

You have a great idea. Hope you'll win the prize and follow-through with it. For me, having a life partner would make disappearing for one year a bit problematic. If you have the desire, do it!

12:45PM PDT on Jul 6, 2012

As a stay-at-home mom who does pretty much 98% of the work around our house and yard, I have this to say: Year off, hell! I'd kill for a DAY off!

5:08AM PDT on Jul 5, 2012

Thankfully this is the reality for me (minus the 100k budget) ... gap year! I get to do loads of volunteering, have loads of relaxation time and explore the world. Couldn't be better :)

8:40PM PDT on Jul 3, 2012


10:25AM PDT on Jul 3, 2012

hmmmm? need time to think that over. thnx

7:57AM PDT on Jul 3, 2012

sounds wonderful. just to clarify: is the 100k to cover your "fun" plans for the year, or to cover existing bills & expenses such as mtg/rent, etc? :)

7:32AM PDT on Jul 3, 2012

I would definitely stop working and enjoying the benefits of an one-year vacation. Even if I like my work I find it a tremendous opportunity to be able to do what I really want to do for one year: so I would definitely quit my job for one year and no, I would not give the money to a charity/ philanthropy /non-profit but I would start a BOP 2.0 business.
Money from charities only reach in a small proportion to those they are intended to, the rest is used for the management and advertising. While a BOP 2.0 business engages and empowers the poor, giving them a means for a better living.

12:49AM PDT on Jul 3, 2012

Thank you for this article.

9:48PM PDT on Jul 2, 2012

Hmmm...I'd have to think about that for a bit.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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