Entrepreneurs and business owners are the hardest working, most dedicated and committed people I know. With a vision in mind, and a goal ahead, they do whatever it takes to achieve success, often sacrificing their own personal well being along the way and never taking a break or a vacation to recharge, refuel, re-energize, reinvigorate.
I used to be that business owner. In the first few years of my business, I worked 14-16+ hours a day, at least 6 days a week, and I NEVER took a vacation — because I didn’t think I could.
Eventually I began to take vacations, but the weeks leading up to the vacations, and the week after returning were so awful, that I often wondered if it was worth it. Plus I often pulled multiple all-nighters to finish everything before leaving, so I was exhausted and cranky the first few days of the trips! And, if I am really going to be honest, my vacations weren’t really vacations, as I took my computer with me to check email and work if I needed to (which I always did).
All Of That Has Since Changed For The Better
Now I am able to detach from my business to vacation with no phone, no computer, and absolutely no working — and the weeks leading up to and after vacation are pleasant and stress free. In fact, we recently took our annual tech-free camping trip. This year we spent it along the Santa Cruz, CA coast and the peace that came with pure detachment was wonderful.
But, in speaking with other business owners, peers, and friends about our vacations, I realized just how many business owners are just I like I was — handcuffed to their business, unable to truly take a vacation and detach.
In my conversations, I heard things like:
- I could never do that
- I recently took a vacation too, but I brought my computer and worked a few of the days
- My wife and I went away last weekend, but I worked on Sunday
- We took a trip last month, but my spouse was on his/her phone working the whole time
- I can’t detach like that. We go on vacation, but I always check my email and do a little work every morning
Yikes! That doesn’t sound good — but I get it. I used to be that person! But I for the good of my family, my business, my clients, and myself, I knew I had to make changes and shifts in my mindset.
Here’s what I learned and changed to allow me to take a vacation that is really a vacation and truly detach from my business:
BELIEF: If I am not working, I am not getting paid.
- PROBLEM: Billing was done upon project completion, which resulted in a feast or famine rollercoaster.
- CHANGE: Shift the billing approach. Accept all major credit cards and implement automatic payment plans that begin at the start of each project.
- RESULT: Money is coming in constantly and consistently and cashflow is not based on projects starting or stopping.
BELIEF: I have to touch everything and do everything myself.
- PROBLEM: If I didn’t do it, it didn’t get done.
- CHANGE: Create a system and process for everything we do to streamline and automate all repetitive tasks and actions.
- RESULT: Tasks and activities happen automatically or are able to be delegated to and completed by other team members, and client projects/communications move forward no matter what.
BELIEF: If I am unavailable, my clients may go somewhere else.
- PROBLEM: Fear that clients will get angry if I am unavailable due to unclear client expectations.
- CHANGE: Better communication and earlier preparation with clients about when we will be unavailable and for how long, as well as setting clear expectations for how it will affect any current projects.
- RESULT: Clients feel prepared and cared for, and know exactly what to expect, so they happily honor our time away to recharge and reignite our creativity.
BELIEF: I have to have my computer in case of an emergency.
- PROBLEM: I never truly detach and am mentally “on call” and not wholeheartedly present.
- CHANGE: Leave the computer at home and build solid relationships.
- RESULT: I can’t work no matter what. If an emergency arises with a client, a team member can handle it or we can refer them to another expert we have a relationship with.
BELIEF: Only the minimum amount of time off is needed.
- PROBLEM: Stress, exhaustion, and crankiness affect the vacation. Upon return, the need to “get back into the groove” creates unproductive, frustrating work days.
- CHANGE: Pad the beginning of the vacation with extra days to decompress, relax, and prepare for the trip. Pad the end of the vacation with extra days to ease back into a normal workflow.
- RESULT: Relaxed, stress-free vacation and true detachment from business. Easy assimilation back into the normal workflow after vacation.
I used to only take one extra day before and after vacations — and it worked. For some short trips, I still only pad one day on each end of the trip. But now I take one admin day to wrap up the last few details and one prep day to relax, let go, and pack. I also take two downtime days after the trip to ease back into my normal routine and one admin day to check email and create a plan for the first real day back in the office.
One Last Mindset Shift
BELIEF: Every entrepreneur and business owner needs to take vacations and completely detach from their business.
- PROBLEM: Seems impossible, unable to let go, afraid, no support system.
- CHANGE: Take baby steps to position yourself, your business, and your team to support you in taking vacations. Start small with a two-day trip and then slowly make it longer and longer.
- RESULT: Avoid burnout and exhaustion. Refuel your creativity, passion, motivation, and excitement about what you do. Enjoy the rewards of owning your business and truly creating success on your own terms.
What do you think?
Have you been able to detach from your business and go on a true vacation? What have you done to be able to confidently take a vacation and leave your business behind? Do you find detaching from your business almost impossible? Share below!