Being an entrepreneur is addictive. I first realized this about six months into starting Reformation, one night when I was sitting on my sofa at 1AM stuffing media kit envelopes for a new client. I had already worked a 12-hour day and here I was, sacrificing sleep for work, riding the high of bringing in new business and making it on my own.
There’s nothing wrong with working hard to achieve your goals, but that kind of schedule has a shelf life. I hit the wall after about 14 months of regularly working 12+ hour days and getting progressively more tired, stressed, and irritable (to say the least). And that’s when I learned a VERY important lesson.
As an entrepreneur, you NEED to take a break.
Two months after realizing I was digging myself an early grave, I booked a last-minute trip to Hawaii with a girlfriend. The decision to leave was incredibly stressful. Would my clients understand? What would blow up when I was away? Would my business fail if I went on vacation?
Looking back, it seems irrational – but in the moment, these were all VERY real concerns.
The reality? That five-day trip to Hawaii SAVED my sanity, and in turn, my business. Without that vacation, I am almost certain I would have burned out and closed up shop before the end of the year. Instead, I came home rested and rejuvenated, with the ideas and energy I had been struggling so badly to find when I was running myself ragged.
And that’s when I made a major realization. Working HARD doesn’t always mean it has to be hard.
Think about it. Here I was, grinding away, working 80+ hour weeks, until I had absolutely nothing left to give. I thought that the solution to finding the ideas and energy I so sorely needed was to work harder. And I was WRONG. I found what I was looking for as soon as I stepped away.
That’s why, right then and there, I made myself a promise. Every year, at least once a year, I take a COMPLETE break from my business, and get away from home, for at LEAST one week. This break has three conditions.
- No laptop
- No email – in fact, I remove the Gmail app from my phone altogether
- No calls from clients, colleagues, partners, vendors, anyone associated with my business, or ANY numbers I don’t recognize (unless they are power-dialing me and I think something has gone majorly haywire)
You’re probably reading this right now and thinking, “This chick is nuts.” Maybe, “Well, maybe she can do it, but I can’t.” Or my favourite: “If I did this, my business would fail.”
Instead of thinking you can’t afford to take a break, ask yourself if you can afford not to. Trust me when I say:
- Your customers will understand (and if they don’t, they’re not a client you want anyways)
- Nothing will blow up – and if something DOES go wrong, you can be reached
- Taking a vacation does NOT equal failure
All three of these things are true, and I promise that you can do it without forfeiting everything you’ve worked so hard to create. The health of your business depends on it.
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