Back in my “corporate days” it was so easy to take a vacation – I was getting paid to take time away and recharge. But as an entrepreneur, its easy to let months slide by without taking time away from your business.
Not too long ago my client Sharie shared how burned out she felt! When I asked her the last time she had a vacation she laughed and said, “I haven’t taken more than a day in over five years!” This is a pretty common reaction from high-achievers who associate achieving more with success. Taking time away from their business often makes them feel guilty or that they can’t afford to be away.
What is not taking time off costing you?
When you don’t take time away to recharge its easy to lose your focus, spin in circles and make horrible decisions that affect your long term success. Without a mental break, your creativity gets blocked because the juices aren’t flowing. Or worse yet, the entrepreneur’s worst nightmare kicks — fatigue — (five cups of coffee later and you still can’t get in gear.) Before your motivation is zapped and your mental power is zilch, schedule time for a vacation to give yourself a break.When you take mini-vacations from your #smallbusiness, you make better decisions and sharpen focus Click To Tweet
For those of you who have great self-care and balance, you can stop reading now. You have probably already mastered this area and have your vacations scheduled out for the next 18 months. For those of you who rarely take time for yourself, let alone a vacation from the business, take good notes as this could save your future success.
For an entrepreneur, the most important and valuable asset we have is creativity. Creativity flourishes when we are rested – and dries up when we are exhausted. Have you ever noticed that our best ideas come at times like when we are sleeping or in the shower? Maybe you are like me and they drop in when you are driving? Well, to tap into that cherished creativity more often, we need to have downtime. Let me introduce the idea of the “entrepreneur’s mini recharge vacation.” You may not have the time or financial ability to take a two-week holiday away so here are 10 ways to give yourself a “mini-vacation” without losing momentum from your business. (And all ten are doable no matter what you say about your schedule.)
1. Hit the hammock with a book. Find a spot you enjoy (for me its the beach or our back yard hammock) with a good book and give yourself a good two to three hours to dig in. No not another marketing or leadership book. Be really audacious – read a fiction book. Grab Pillars of The Earth by Ken Follet. Maybe you are more of a Harry Potter fan. Or be real decadent and just read a trashy novel. Anything that will let your imagination run free and the creativity flow.
2. Hang out in a coffee shop. Or a favorite restaurant will do. The idea is to get out of your normal zone of work effort so you can tap into a new environment. Grab your laptop and some good ear buds and “plug in” with your favorite beverage. Often I’ll head down to Malibu Beach to watch the waves at Paradise Cove while I do some writing. I always feel more inspired afterwords.
3. Go local. Pick a place you haven’t been before that’s within a two hour drive and go exploring for a day. Just getting out of your normal environment can increase your energy immediately. Our homes (or work locations) hold the energy of our problems and current situations. Go on a day long exploration to change your thinking. You may also pick up some new ideas and uncover a burst of inspiration while you are away.
4. Have lunch with a friend. You know, at one of those fancy, chi-chi restaurants with the great view. I highly recommend Shutters in Santa Monica if you are in the neighborhood. Spending time with a friend is one of the best ways to boost your motivation. A little conversation, a lot of great food, and you’ll be recharged in now time.
5. Go to a mid-day matinee. Playing hookie at the movies can be a simple way to claim some much needed down-time. Be really adventurous and make it a 2:00 pm showing and book a seat at one of the luxury cinemas. If you live in a really hot area like we do this is a great way to escape the summer heat waves.
6. Enjoy a hobby. Don’t be one of those entrepreneurs who make their business their EVERYTHING. Cultivate a hobby that gives you energy back. My good friend Jim Palmer loved rowing every morning. Now he lives AND works on a boat. For me, I love tending to my garden, finding new Paleo recipes, or spending a few hours stringing together beads for a new necklace. Whatever it is for you, find something that is NOT about making money or running your business to spend an hour or two a week doing. Internet surfing and chat rooms don’t count! (But planting a few house plants does!)
7. Play games. Not Solitaire or Angry Birds on your smart phone but a real board game that requires two or more people. At least once a week we pull out a game with the family (often its Canasta or Phase 10.) Games are an amazing way to let off steam but studies show that it can also stimulate your brain and help you boost your mental performance too.
8. Cultivate some culture. When you infuse culture into your life, you can’t help but activate a spark of creativity. Most towns have outdoor concerts for the summer that are free. Visit a museum or head to a community theater (often they have very reasonable ticket fees.) Be a tourist in your own town. The day we took the Hollywood Tour Bus not only made us laugh non-stop but it created a family memory we’ll keep forever.
9. Spend the afternoon with a child. If you don’t have any of your own, borrow one from a friend. Do something you would never do unless you were with a five year old! Make a fort in the living room couch or play hair salon. When my niece was little, I’d take her on an Auntie Date and ended up feeling alive and inspired again. Whether we were shopping, drawing or playing dress up, a young person can inspire you to play again. Don’t ruin it by being hooked to your device though!
10. Treat yourself to a spa day. My personal favorite – massage. It is something that is good for EVERYONE! If you are really looking to decompress, head out to a spa and book a delightful treatment. A few of my favorites are: Palm Desert Marriott Hot Springs, The Bacara in Santa Barbara or the Four Seasons. If that feels to extravagant, find a local Foot Massage Spa (often its $20 for a one hour foot and shoulder massage.)
When my clients get stressed out, I give them an assignment to take time off. It always works like a charm! The pay off for taking breaks can be significant. Writers who suffer from writers block often say that the best thing to do is disengage for a while and do something else.
When you can’t find your creative spark, are frustrated for no good reason and barking orders at your assistant, its probably time to take take a mini-vacation! Have fun with it and just enjoy yourself for a few hours. I promise, nothing horrible will happen and you will be much more creative when you return.
Plan to do at least one of these 10 recommendations over the next 60 days and watch what happens. Notice how your energy is rejuvenated. Observe how much more productive you become when you take time for fun. Open your mind to the flow of creativity and new ideas. Pretty soon you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how nice an “entrepreneurs vacation” can be.