When I started my business in 2001 I worked 7 days a week for 3 years straight. I was in my mid-20s and focused on building as quickly as possible. Eventually, it became clear to me that wasn’t sustainable and I needed to have some time off. The problem was the business never seemed to cycle down enough for me to take the time. Somewhere in my early 30s, I realized the business wasn’t going to grant me any time off – I had to be purposeful about inserting it into my schedule. But then the vacation time block would come and I was busy and would justify not taking the time off and kept on working.
Finally, I realized, I needed more accountability to take the time and so I started doing what I still do today is block 3 segments of time off per year, one year in advance, and book and pay for 2 entire vacations in advance. Non-refundable.
That finally locked things into place because when the time came I didn’t want to lose the money and so I made it work.
People see my life now and our amazing trips abroad three times a year, but they don’t see more than 10 years of trying to figure out how to grow my business and income sufficiently and manage my time effectively. 3 quick principals to live by.
- If you’re starting a business, you need to stay focused on it. I do not recommend you take more than a couple weeks off the entire year at first. You must stay incredibly focused and dedicated those first 2-3 years. You don’t yet know how to manage your momentum and your pipeline, you’ll learn this over time though you must put in the time.
- Once you have calibrated things come year 3+ start to figure out what kind of time off works for you. For example, long weekends don’t work for me. I don’t feel rested and I’m annoyed at the rush. 10 days minimum is what I need to feel a full cycle of re-charge.
- Don’t play victim to your business. It’s your business. Don’t be mad at your clients for interrupting your vacation, take that as a lesson learned you need to build a team around you.
With purposefulness, you can build a great business AND take time off. Though manage your expectations, it could take a few years to get that rhythm right.