By all accounts, Karan Baraj seems like your typical Fortune 500 executive. He lives in Manhattan, has a toddler, buys $14 green juice and has worked hard to climb the ranks of the corporate ladder. Along the way he’s experienced success, including being named “top 40 under 40” executives in marketing by Ad Age.
Pretty standard, right? It may seem that way, but every four years Karan rips his life wide open and takes his family with him on a trip with no plan, purpose, or outcome. He spends time in ashrams across the Himalayas, waking up early to scrub the monastery, and spends hours in meditation. He travels on a whim, writes novels, and stops setting personal goals. He leaves his corporate gig behind with little to no communication along the way.
After a year, he comes back and re-enters society for another four years—until the cycle repeats itself. Calling this the 4–1–4 model, Karan expands during our interview:
In the year that I take off I’m very consciously goal-less. I completely strip myself of the entire idea of becoming. I make both physical and emotional decisions in line with that. For instance, in the last sabbatical, my wife and I had a very clear intention that we didn’t want to plan a single day at all. We wanted to only make decisions that were completely intuitive and natural that came from within.1
Karan is a trailblazer; his novels have been optioned for movies, and he’s one of India’s bestselling authors of all time. Clearly, ...