Year of Madness

James Taylor publicity photo for The 5ive O'Clock Show.

I wanted to let you into a secret that I've previously only shared with my closest friends and's called my Year of Madness.

You see in March of this year I resigned from a well-paying job, moved my wife and I to a different part of the world, and started living life very differently.

It's all the fault of Chris Guillebeau and Rolf Potts, two authors I admire who write about unconventional living and the art of long-term travel.

It wasn't that my old job as Vice President of a California technology company wasn't interesting; I got to work with some great people, help build education products that customers loved and spent weekends visiting Napa vineyards or hip new San Francisco restaurants. But here comes the rub...

The job was coming into conflict with my three primary values; freedom, learning and excitement.

Ever since I left school I've been an entrepreneur, my own boss, and in control of my day. There have been lean years and very prosperous ones. Thankfully there have been more of the latter than the former.

When my wife and I moved to California three years ago I had to take some risks, not least becoming an employee for the first time in my life. These risks were offset by the opportunity for learning and because it was exciting. Oh and the Californian climate had something to do with my decision.

However what I found out was that freedom, by my definition the ability to do whatever, whenever and with whomever I want, was more important to me than learning and excitement. It certainly ranks higher than making money and acquiring lots of stuff. I needed to be an entrepreneur again and captain my own ship. Which is when the idea of a Year of Madness came up...

On my computer there exists a folder called 'Year of Madness'. In this folder are all the plans, ideas, travel schedules and budgets involved in my wife and I taking a year out. Tim Ferriss calls it taking a 'mini-retirement', but as I'm 36 the word retirement sounds too dull, grown-up and makes me think of terrible golf fashions.

Here is what our 'Year of Madness' entails. It's a full year where we travel the world, learn new skills, live as digital gypsies, reflect, meet new people, have long lunches, investigate new business ideas and generally have a lot of fun and excitement.

Here is what it is not; just sitting on a beach all day (that gets boring after 3hrs for me), doing work for works sake, settling down, being comfortable or generally being conformist.


My wife and I are now into month seven of our 'Year of Madness'. During that time we've spent four months in Canada where my wife got Canadian citizenship, we learned video production and set-up our own studio.

Summer was spent in Italy, eating mind-blowing pasta, reading widely, writings, reflecting and jumping off mountains. We then spent a very enjoyable couple of days driving through Europe meeting business partners and hatching new plans.

We're now at our home in the highlands of Scotland where we are going to concerts, hanging out with friends and family and building another video studio for some new 2014 projects.

Next month we head to Asia for the winter (Scotland and Vancouver are not known for their warm winter nights!). During that time my wife is playing a jazz festival in Penang and then it's on to Chiang Mai in Thailand to write and get to know some of the 40,000 US, British and Canadian entrepreneurs that now call that city home each winter.

Our plan is to then spend the last two months of our 'Year of Madness' making decisions about which country we want to make 'home-base', what kind of businesses we want to build, and importantly for us, what we want to learn, do and see next.

I won't lie. There have been moments when we craved for our old more settled life. However these feelings quickly evaporate when we reflect on the freedom we've been enjoying, the new things we've learned, the new friends we've made, the new cities we've explored, the incredible food we've eaten and the people we've become because of our experiences.

I never planned to tell anyone about our 'Year of Madness'. However at dinner last month in Vancouver a friend suggested I write a book or series of blog posts about it. He felt that some people would be inspired by the idea of taking a year out to refresh, reskill and reconnect with what is important to them.

I'd love to hear your views. Do you want me to write more about how to create your own 'Year of Madness'?

If so please leave comments below indicating what parts you'd like me to write about; the overall idea, how to plan it, the finances or even creating an automated muse business to provide the income to fund it.

Over to you....



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