Over the past six years since I’ve been running our business, time out has been elusive to say the least. We have taken vacations but we also lugged laptops, iPhones and checked hotels for reliable Wi-Fi before making a booking.
In hindsight, I can see that we changed the location of our office for a little while, but we didn’t really take a holiday. We never completely switched off. A tour of the Louvre was followed by email checks and responses. A day at the beach began at silly o’clock so I could be online and working at the same time as the office team. Like many small business owners, I was always working until just a few months ago.
So, what happened?
I went to New York, one of my favourite cities in the world (if you haven’t been there I highly recommend you add it to your bucket list!). I went for a neuro leadership conference and an awards event where I was fortunate enough to receive an international award for my work with women. But I digress…
In the ten days between both events, I went upstate and met a friend. We headed off on a road trip with my camera and journal. It was amazing and filled with lots of adventures.
It was also work and Wi-Fi free.
There were days where I was so focused on what I was doing that I didn’t even think of the office. I knew if there was any major drama, I could be contacted. I spent my days enjoying the scenery, the company, the culture, and the food. It was bliss!
Towards the end of my trip, I felt completely recharged. And the interesting thing was that work came back to the forefront of my mind in the most positive way. I suddenly experienced real insights about which aspects of our business I was truly passionate about. I knew what lit my fire from what tasks and activities I found to be a real chore. I also had out of left field thoughts about things I really wanted to achieve in our business, both for me and for the rest of my team.
I journaled these insights and shared them with the team when I returned. I also added them to our strategic plan. I now KNEW what I was truly passionate about and what we had to include in our business for me to spring into the office each day with a bounce in my step. The administrative side of the business is still very important and will always have a place on the schedule, but so will the passionate fire-in-your-belly items.
Strategic planning is very important to our business. We do spend quite a bit of time planning. To that end, I thoroughly enjoyed the HerBusiness planning day at the beginning of the year. In my plan, I gave myself a good few weeks, twice in the year, to go off and just enjoy myself. I also chose something once a month that I was doing purely for fun (usually a photography workshop).
It’s now nearly six months since I returned from that trip. Those lightbulb moments and thoughts have now taken on a life of their own. We have regrouped as a team, I’ve delegated where I needed to, and I’ve taken steps to develop and grow the side of my business that really makes me light up.
I’ve also booked my next trip which will happen in just a few weeks’ time. The camera and journal are ready to go. The laptop will be with me but it will be used more on my terms. I am looking forward to switching off and signing out for a few weeks.
Nobody was as surprised by this as I was. I now see the real value in taking time out. I don’t think I’ll ever be the type of person who will close the office at 5pm and not think about it until it opens again. I don’t think any business owner does that. What I will do is increase the time I give myself to switch off, opt out, unplug and take the time out. I hope you are giving yourself that time too.