Starting today, I’ll be going on a three-month sabbatical from my full-time job at Amazon. Everything is fine – my overall health is okay and there are no family emergencies. Rather, I’m using the leave to focus on some personal projects, on my home life, and on improving my diet and exercise.
At this point, I’ve been at Amazon for 2.5 years. While that doesn’t sound like a lot, there’s a saying that’s common among employees that Amazon years are like “dog years” in that every year you work there feels much longer than it actually is. In my experience this is true, but only because of the sheer quantity of material you are able to learn, the responsibility that’s vested in you as an individual employee, and the amount of impact you are able to make. Overall, I’ve gotten a lot out of my time at Amazon and I feel extremely fortunate and privileged to work with such talented people who have been very understanding of my need to take this personal leave.
Beyond all the things I plan to do, it has been a challenge to maintain my job and all of my extracurricular activities. I’m hoping to use the next few months to take a step back and re-prioritize everything I’m working on so that I can return to work with renewed focus. But I’m also hoping it to use it to reconnect with old friends and meet new prospective collaborators (on that note: if we haven’t spoken in awhile, and/or you have a creative project to pitch me, now is the time to get in touch!)
There’s an old blog post I’ve been thinking a lot about recently over at Tim Urban’s Wait But Why, about visually dividing your life up into years/months/weeks.
Seeing life divided up like this can be both invigorating and terrifying. It’s scary because you realize how limited our time is and how each week is an inevitable step towards the bottom of that chart. But it can also be exciting, as Urban writes:
Both the week chart above and the life calendar are a reminder to me that this grid of empty boxes staring me in the face is mine. We tend to feel locked into whatever life we’re living, but this pallet of empty boxes can be absolutely whatever we want it to be. Everyone you know, everyone you admire, every hero in history—they did it all with that same grid of empty boxes.
The boxes can also be a reminder that life is forgiving. No matter what happens each week, you get a new fresh box to work with the next week. It makes me want to skip the New Year’s Resolutions—they never work anyway—and focus on making New Week’s Resolutions every Sunday night. Each blank box is an opportunity to crush the week—a good thing to remember.
“Every blank box is an opportunity to crush the week.” Let’s make the most of them. I’m going to try my best to do so during this leave and beyond.
If you want to follow my adventures over the next 11 weeks, I’d recommend:
- Subscribing to my newsletter
- Subscribing to Culturally Relevant
- Following me on Twitter
- I’ve also started a new Twitter account to share all the articles I’m reading
- Following me on Instagram
- Subscribing to my YouTube channel
A few other links from recent days:
- I did a video review of Cats, a movie that surely broke my brain.
- Over on Culturally Relevant I counted down the top 10 films of the decade with Tasha Robinson and the top 10 TV episodes(!) of the decade with Tara Ariano.
- I did an in-depth interview with the writer/director of Knives Out, Rian Johnson.
- For the /Filmcast, we reviewed Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker and did a post-mortem analysis of the reaction to the film. I’d also recommend:
- Ron Srigley writes for MIT Technology Review about what happens when he asked his students to give up their phones.
- Rebecca Holland writes about what happens when she couldn’t stop renting her apartment out on AirBNB.