What Would You Do With A Year Off?

I read this very interesting article sometime ago where one law firm was offering its lawyers the opportunity to take the year off for 1/3 their annual base salary. Now obviously that 1/3 was probably more than most of us make on a full salary, but I still thought the article was very interesting.

Only in a financial world turned upside down would an arrangement like this one make sense. Looking to cut costs like everyone else, but not prepared to lay off employees, Skadden has chosen instead to offer all of its associates — about 1,300 worldwide — the option of accepting a third of their base pay to not show up for work for a year. (So far, the partners have no equivalent arrangement.)

The company is helping associates find pro bono work, and is encouraging them to do so. But the lawyers could also spend the year catching up on every episode of “Top Chef” that they missed during the boom years, or traveling around the world, “all of which is O.K. by us,” said Matthew Mallow, a partner at the firm. Other firms have adopted similar strategies, but Skadden’s program is unusual in that it has no pro bono requirements.

So let’s pretend. If your place of employment offered a similar deal and you could afford to do it with some minor cut backs, would you?

More importantly what would you do if you had one year off work?

Me? I really don’t think I would take the deal. I love what I do too much. I truly feel I get to live out my calling. Now, would I like a little more flexibility? Sure.

I would probably speak less and play with my kids more.

I would lead less and love more.

I would attend fewer meetings and do more international missions.

How about you?

37 Responses to “What Would You Do With A Year Off?”

  1. Ashley Lamb says:

    I would either go work with the homeless on skid row in los Angeles, my passion, or go back to cape town south Africa and work with living hope loving on the broken people of the area.

  2. Seth says:

    I would grow a beard for a year and make a stop motion video and put it on youtube so i would go viral and then i would shave it and i would also watch a lot of netflix.

  3. Art says:

    I would definitely take the deal. Yes, I love what I do, but a year away from vocational ministry to minister to my family, serve without thought of salary, do some things I’ve always wanted to (travel, take pictures, etc.) – no brainer, I’d do it right now.

  4. Susan says:

    Travel/serve overseas.
    Try to write a book.
    Finally go through all of my emails and extra stuff in my room (aka simplify my life).

    But the traveling & serving overseas would be the primary thing (especially since the other two are slowly happening in my life anyway). I have a pretty good idea of which organization(s) I would go with.

  5. Jen says:

    If I had a year off with pay (1/3 of my salary or otherwise), I would probably spend most of that year in China. I spent two weeks there with University students who were learning English back in 2009 and my heart is to go back. I’d probably spend a month in Ireland, too, just to say I did.

    On another note, as someone who’s job is working as a paralegal, I think this is a great idea! I’ve seen how burnt out attorneys can get if they don’t “take care” of themselves. I also think its good that the firm doesn’t require them to work pro bono cases if they choose not to. (Although, they probably should to keep up with the legal field because so much can happen in a year.)

  6. jespeseth says:

    I would not… It is a wonderful offering, but I do not make productive decisions with I scheduled time. I would find myself sitting around the house doing very little. Currently, I go home from work, do an activity of some type with my son, prepare dinner for the family and then spend time with my wife. Without good boundaries, I would have a huge list of things to do without likely accomplishing anything.

  7. In a heart beat – if I were able to make sure all financial bases were covered.

    I would dive straight into school instead of dealing with the brick wall of “how do I pay my bills AND finish my degree AND live to tell the tale?”

    I would go on more international missions as well, or spend a longer period of time in one place if that’s where I felt God calling me to be.

    I would take a road trip that would literally circle the US, visiting family for the first time in years.

    I would read a bazillion books, and when I was done, I’d sleep in the sun. I’d find somewhere outside…bug free-ish…and sleep. And then I’d go horseback riding.

    I would watch every single episode of Criminal Minds and Dexter twice. :-)

  8. Elizabeth says:

    I would definitely take the opportunity! I like my job, but I’d love to be able to travel the world for a whole year.

  9. nic says:

    i would absolutely do it! i would spend more time with my sister. i would read more books. i wouldn’t be such a recluse so often, valuing my time to refuel myself so much over spending time with others.

  10. Ryan says:

    I’m in! Give me 4 one way tickets to Haiti (my passion) and my family would move tomorrow!

  11. britt savage says:

    I love my job (singing) so I’d probably still do some of it, just not on a deadline.

    My 33 year old horse died a few years ago and I haven’t wanted to get another one because of the expense and time it takes to care for one – but if I had a year off, I’d get one because riding is something I’ve done all my life and I miss it.

  12. Jason says:

    Well, in a sense, I’ve had this without the 1/3 pay having been out of work since last March. It’s been a time where God’s worked me over and drawn out a lot of things that needed to be done. It certainly wasn’t the year I expected it to be.

    If I had the ability to choose…I’d wander the country and look for random acts of kindness I could do. Just spend the year visiting small towns across the USA and find ways to help people anonymously.

  13. Sarah says:

    I would spend my days volunteering at Mercy Ministries and helping a fellow friend produce some shows. I love to volunteer!

  14. ginger says:

    I would take the deal. I would pursue the chance to take a short term missions trip to either Africa, the Phillipines or Brazil. Most importantly though, I would take the time to invest daily on those relationships I value most – God, husband, spiritual friends/mentors, and family. I would also set aside a day a week for reading for pleasure. I would serve in my community where ever God opened a door and it fit my gifts.

  15. Amy says:

    In a heartbeat I would say yes. I would love to spend more time with my kids. If we had money saved to travel, I would love to do that with them.

  16. erin says:

    I would sell everything I have and go to bible school!

  17. Anson Sexton says:

    I would take off a yr from my day job (insurance underwriter) in a heartbeat & spend more time w/ my family (we’re expecting our 3rd child this summer) and invest more time into my ‘part-time’ job (associate pastor at our church, CC Pacific Hills). I’d visit my mom & brothers up in Oregon. And my family & I would travel back to South Africa (my wife & I lived there from August 2007 – December 2008) and spend time w/ all the beautiful people we met there & seek to further our efforts to live on mission for Christ.

    And we’d definitely take a trip to Nashville :)

  18. sheila says:

    Without doubt, I would take it. I would spend lots of time with my kids, host a women’s bible study and perhaps downsize. For 6 wks during the summer, my employment is closed on Fridays and we have the flexibility to work a 4-10 hr work wk, or work regular hrs and get pd for less. The 10-hour work wk sounded great to me. So for two yrs that is what I choose to do. However, there were some significant drawbacks and they were felt mostly by my children. So this year, I am cutting back and will sign up to work 28 hrs/wkly. I believe the benefits will out weigh the sacrifice. In God’s Love, sheila

  19. Tatum says:

    Wow! What a great question to ask. It’s a hard one to answer. I would no doubt take the offer as long as all financial commitments were met {especially if my insurance and retirement were still covered}. But the next big question is what would I really do? First off, I’d take my kids out of daycare and keep them home with me spending as much time with them as I could. My heart aches to be home with them full-time. I love what I do and we are financially sound with my income, but there is still that longing to be home with my little ones more. I’d organize, cook delicious meals more often, bake, clean, and make our home a refuge from all the worldly things. I’d volunteer, focus my life more on what God is calling me to do, and spend more time with friends and family – invest in those things that are most important. As I am writing this out I’m asking myself why it would take getting work off for a year to make these things happen? Obviously my priorities are not in order and even with my career I need to get things in check. Wowzer! Thanks for such a heart and eye opening post. I really need to relect on all of this…

  20. Nigel says:

    I’d buy a ’70s Lincoln and drive to all 50 states. Given the reliability issues with using a 40 year old car as a daily driver, it’d probably take me a year to visit all of them.

  21. […] A year off? I’ve gotta find out if this place is […]

  22. dan says:

    I’m with you Pete. I don’t think I would be able to not do what I love for a whole year…I’ve got a hard enough time taking days off already.

    But it would be nice to have less day to day stuff occupying my time & it would be great to be able to do some international missions/travel with my wife again. We’ve not been international in about 5 years now & we both greatly miss it.

  23. Pam says:

    Of course IF I could afford to do this I would spend time playing with my grandchildren and watching them grow and give their parents time to continue their education. What a day dream!

  24. Joe Pote says:

    A one year sabbatical would be pretty cool!

    I would dedicate more time to missions.

    I would do more writing…work on completing another book.

    I would work toward completing many of the unfinished tasks around the house.

    Of course, some of those items would be difficult to do on a reduced income…

  25. Josh says:

    Like many have suggested, I’d read much more, start a writing project, and spend much more time with extended family.

  26. Beth says:

    I don’t know what I would do. Gawsh. If I were a lawyer.

    I imagine my approach to the question you posed is going to be gendered. I would probably not be as incentivized by the pay pro rata as by the opportunity to further my career. Liberty to diversify rather than specialize may be something I would welcome as female professionals have often had more varied work histories in order to accommodate their families etc.. I am generalizing and know nothing about the legal profession or any career which is considered in a serious way by commentators to be bona fide.

    For the record I’ve been unemployed/in ill health for a long time now. I’ve inevitably been stigmatized as a result. It’s difficult to know the future but if I were able to make a rational choice I would probably press towards security in the long term.

    I often look back at my work history and wonder if I should have done something differently. The difficulties I’ve had in getting back into work underline the severe stress I was under in my last job. There’s no easy answer to these problems.

    Some are destined for more wealth than others.

    I’ve become an adept saver and budgeteer. I tell myself these are skills for the future.

  27. Chris Walker says:

    Just started back to work after 20 months of unemployment. I know what it is like. Unfortunately, all of my plans to do great things did not work out the way I had planned. But that is what happens when I plan. God had a different plan and great things were accomplished within myself. I was needed at home, so God turned me into a stay-at-home dad for almost 2 years.

    Here are things that I did with my free time:
    Slept more, read more, blogged more, cleaned more, cooked more, watched more tv, and dreamed more. I learned a lot in the process.

  28. Frank Viola says:

    “I really don’t think I would take the deal. I love what I do too much.” I’m with you on that one . . .

  29. […] What Would You Do With A Year Off? – Pete Wilson asks: If you were paid to take an entire year off work, what would you do? My answer: read, write, and spend time with family. […]

  30. Lewis says:

    I really think I would do some traveling and try to write a book! It almost sounds like a retirement deal…make 1/3 of your income but the nice thing is you could come back to work in a year! Lewis http://www.lightenload.wordpress.com

  31. After living overseas, I’d highly recommend going somewhere and living elsewhere. Get out of your comfort zone and live in another country or even another city. I think it jolts your normal routine. You also come to appreciate your current home when you return.

    I think that you can get a lot out of living somewhere at least a month but if you can do three months, even better. It’s most economical when you rent a furnished apartment. You don’t necessarily have to keep traveling but just pick one destination.

    I highly recommend it.

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