It’s late July, and the sun is shining brightly. You look beyond the windows or your small apartment or house and think about what you had been doing at this time last year. Perhaps you had a full-time job and plenty of financial security. You likely also enjoyed the benefits of vacation and –ahem, cough-cough- sick time.
Summer is arguably the most popular time of the year when people take vacations, but this year something’s different for you: you haven’t had a day off since June and aren’t planning any trips to a cabin in the woods, to the beach, or anywhere else. Even the idea of a ‘staycation’ (where you stay home and save money, but don’t have to work) is a joke right now.
You’re an entrepreneur. You’re the boss. It is your business, and while it’s nice to be able to talk to the manager and ask for time off without actually verbalising it, that doesn’t mean he (or she) is going to be all that receptive to the idea.
The Summer Blues
That can certainly lead to feelings of frustration and other emotions you may not fully understand or grasp at the time. Depression, anxiety, ennui … these can all overtake your mind and whisper some fascinating things in your ear.
“Hey, it’s only one day … you can take it off.”
“Don’t worry buddy … your business will still be here in a few days. It ain’t going anywhere.”
“You’ve been working like a dog for months. Just how much more are you supposed to take?”
And my personal favourite:
“Everyone else is out there having fun … why aren’t you?”
Those internal voices can be quite persuasive, too. Even though you know you can’t take any time off, after a while you begin to get worn out. Your one person operation requires somebody at the helm at all times. You wouldn’t try steering an oil tanker into port while leaving the bridge, would you?
Of course not. And you’ve been planning on starting this business for years. It was your adult life’s dream to get this done, and you understood you wouldn’t be able to take time off for a while.
Or maybe you thought you would. If you’re one of those young, naïve entrepreneur wannabes (and I’ll explain that in a minute, so try not to get upset about it) who thought you’d just set up an affiliate account, post a website, and then just be able to kick back and relax while the money rolled in, then you might have thought you’d be basking on the beach this summer hanging with your friends and rolling out those big bills to pay for everyone’s drinks.
When I say entrepreneur wanna-be, I’m referring to the type of people who see those slick marketing ads promising $10,000 a month and even more for just working a few hours a week. In reality, if you don’t put in the time and effort you won’t get the reward. Unless you play and win the lottery.
If you play the lottery, I wish you all the luck. I truly do. But you’re not likely betting your entire life on ever hitting the multi-million dollar jackpot, right? It’s not reasonable to plan for that type of win.
Nor is it sensible to plan on making tens of thousands of dollars without putting much real effort into your business. Even if you hit on the best idea this side of the wheel it takes a time to develop, get attention, and get your business to grow. Once that business reaches a success threshold, things can change quickly, but real entrepreneurs are men and women just like you and me who fully intended from the very beginning to be devoting a significant amount of time and energy to this business venture.
This was no get-rich-quick scheme you had playing in your head. Therefore you were never a wanna-be.
And you knew full well that this summer and maybe next would require your undivided attention to the business.
Now you find yourself looking out the window, watching people walk by in shorts, and remember how difficult the previous winter was to get through and how much you only longed for summer’s arrival. You might have promised yourself you’d take some time to enjoy this summer.
And maybe you have. You certainly need to consider taking time off every week, even if it’s only a few hours one day a week. I don’t work on Sundays. For me it’s religious, but it’s also for personal and emotional health. My family is the best thing in my life, and I love and need to spend time with them. My kids deserve it too.
Sure, we spend evenings together during the week, and there are plenty of times when I’m chasing my kids around the house during the day, but business is often on my mind during those moments as well. So on Sundays, I completely shut it down.
Is that enough?
No. And I doubt it’s enough for you, either.
Which brings me back to these summer doldrums, or the summertime blues. When you don’t get an opportunity to unwind, kick back, and relax during the summer months doing things that you love, then you’re going to begin feeling the pinch of autumn and then winter in your mind.
You’re going to be thinking about the colder air moving in, the first wisps of snow sprinkling the lawn while the leaves change colour, fall from the trees, and everything once again turns grey.
You want to cling to these summer months and beautiful days, but they are only flying by while you’re stuck in your office trying to make this business work. To make it successful.
So how can you shake these summertime blues away?
I’m not talking about taking an entire week off. There are going to be plenty of issues you’d have to overcome if you did that. Even if you’re not getting any emails or hits at the moment with your business, they could happen at any time.
If you make even one person wait for a response, odds are you’re going to lose out on their business.
How can you take some time off? Either relies on someone you trust to take the helm or outsource your email or call centre to another provider. You can hire someone for just a few hours a day for one week if that’s all that’s needed. Allow yourself three days to spend just relaxing, either on a hike, at the beach, or wherever you enjoy spending your summers.
Unplug for that period of time.
When you take time off, you need to unplug. And I mean unplug. This means shutting down the computer and leaving it off! Same goes for your email program on your phone.
Provide your direct emergency contact phone number for whoever is holding down the fort for you, but instruct them only to call if there’s a real serious issue. Otherwise, this is the time for you to disconnect from it.
The brain needs a rest just as much as the body, and this is the chance to get that much-needed break.
Turn your thoughts away from your business.
During these three days, any time you find yourself thinking about the business, whether it’s an idea that came to you or you’re worried about how things are going, stop. Develop techniques that help you steer those thoughts away from your business and back to you and your family (if you have family).
Get involved in fun activities.
Spend time doing what you truly enjoy and also pick something you’ve never done before but might have had a hankering to do for some time. It could be waterskiing, scuba diving, surfing, kayaking, or whatever.
Just do it.
When you tackle something you’ve never done before you’ll be more inclined to be so singularly focused on that thing (trying not to face plant into the water while learning to waterski, for example) that you won’t even have the time or energy to even contemplate what’s going on with your business.
Time truly does fly when you’re having fun.
Time is going to move fast on this quick vacation getaway. You already know how fast it can move when you’re on a full week’s vacation, and now this is going to feel like little more than a long weekend.
However, when you follow my advice, you’re going to come to one immutable conclusion: you feel relaxed, energized, and positive.
You’ll probably get home and want to check and see how everything is going with your business right away, and that’s fine. You got the break you needed and you’re going to see something else begin to happen.
Your passion will be reignited. You may even develop some new and incredible ideas that can help your business even more. Doesn’t that sound incredible?