Stefan Sagmeister‘s TED talk is a fun 20 minutes. He’s a creative designer whose practice of taking one-year sabbaticals every seven years is refreshing and probably pretty practical, if you plan for it.

The key is that his sabbaticals are about two things. First, they’re about professional and personal development. It’s not a one year vacation. Second, they’re a way to stagger retirement over a lifetime.

“Everything we designed in the seven years following the first sabbatical,” he says, “had originated in that [first] year.” Great visions take enormous amounts of time, energy, and iteration to made a reality. What Sagmeister’s touching on, I think, relates to the distinction between a vocation and a career—between a perceived calling in life and straightforward wage-earning.

In the case of The Nittany Valley Society, for instance, it’s certainly true that our vision as a board in the spring of 2012 is large enough that it will take a lifetime to achieve, before the organization needs to shift primarily into stewardship mode.

Executing that vision requires periods of deep work followed by deep breaths. In 2015, we largely took a deep breath, and we’re gearing up for another period of deep work.