Coming back from a sabbatical
Emma's Notes #46
It feels like I’m coming back from a sabbatical. In fact, I am.
For the past 8 months, I barely worked on the things that kept me busy before. Instead, I studied. At an amazing university.
Now, I’m coming back to a different office. Literally, because I recently moved to Barcelona. But also with a different mind. A better-trained mind, with more intellectual capacity. And a heart full of memories and new friends.
I am fascinated by how inspiration ebbs and flows. Creativity is a matter of discipline, yes. But there are phases of life in which you have to fight for every idea and phases in which you feel like you might choke in them if you don’t get to work. I’m feeling like the latter today.
Soon I’ll share more about:
What it was like to live in Seoul
And how living there compared to San Francisco
The importance of community and how to build it
Reflections on learning at university vs. learning ‘in the real world’
My thoughts on being a digital nomad/ex-pat/or like my friend Joseangel said ‘living like a pirate’
And many many more.
Today, however: what is it like to come back to work after eight months? And why should do the same/pretend like you are sometimes?
Ideas are persistent and iterative
On my first days back, I did a professional spring cleaning. I went through all old notebooks, cleaned my Notion, read my own newsletters and blogs, and evaluated my own portfolio as if it was someone else’s. This process taught me a few things.
First of all, my memory is worse than I think. More than once I thought ‘wow, I completely forgot about that’. Which, turned out to be a nice feeling because it gave me confidence.
Secondly, it made me realize that many ideas are persistent. Interesting thoughts can feel so fleeting. If you don’t write them down the second you have them, they will evaporate. After reading my old work I concluded, however: that thoughts might be fleeting but good ideas are not.
An idea is like clay that you mold every time you think about it. To gain perspective on what you’re trying to mold, it pays off to look back on your thoughts of the past weeks, months, and years. Chances are you’ll realize you’re more repetitive than you thought - but you’ll also figure out what truly keeps you busy.
You are probably reinventing your own wheel
If you’re anything like me, everything that’s new feels exciting. Much more exciting than going back through your old work and repeating yourself. And although this leads to an adventurous life and career, it can also be inefficient. Going through my previous work made me realize that there are skills that I’ve already built, tools that I’ve already practiced using, and research that I already gathered. Everything is ready for me to use. The only thing I need to do is get over myself and let my old self help me.
Things go faster than you think
If you pursue any kind of innovation in your work like I am. Chances are you sometimes think that nothing changes. When you focus on something every day, this very thing seems to freeze in your focus. Stagnant. Still. Insufferable.
However, this perception probably has more to do with your perception than with reality. I feel like I’m reentering the ‘professional world’ and all of a sudden everyone has discovered that there are many ways to earn money and being employed is just one of them. Also, remote working seems to stick - hooray! Zooming out wins you time because you can choose where to zoom in again.