I Took A Two Week Vacation And Here Is What Happened
I am a small business owner. I, along with my wife who is my business partner, run a B2B consultancy. We have no other employees or contractors who work for us, which means that in order to keep the business moving, we have to be working, as there is nobody else to “pick up the slack” when we are gone.
Given this reality, one would think that it would be impossible to take a vacation that did not involve some work. How could a small business continue to thrive if the two people who worked in it went off-line? Perhaps one-day would not be much of an impact, but for almost two-weeks? IMPOSSIBLE?
It is important to know that this is not my first small business. In 2005, I co-founded a marketing agency. Over the course of the next 12 years, the business grew and became the center of all things and I allowed it to be all consuming. During this time, rather than taking a true vacation, I was more or less working from another location while my family was left wondering when I would shut off to spend the time they deserved with them. So disconnecting is not something I have always practiced, unfortunately.
However, we did indeed completely disconnect for almost two weeks and there were some things that happened while we were away.
Our Clients Survived
We are blessed to work with some incredible clients and we do not take their trust in us lightly. We work hard for them and have a vested interest in their success. However, leading up to our time away, we notified them of our vacation and what they could expect. At the same time, we worked diligently to ensure that everything they needed would be delivered before we signed off.
Not only did this approach work well, we found that not a single client contacted us while away . . . they survived!
It took some planning and communication for sure, but was worth it and has set a great example for our clients as well as they see the world will keep spinning when it comes time for them to unplug and step away.
Any small business owner will tell you that running your business is simultaneously rewarding and taxing. While I would not want to do anything else work wise, the pressures of running a business are immense and can be very tiring. While many of us would like to think we have an unlimited supply of stamina, the reality is, we need times of refreshment, of rest and time to disconnect.
It is in these times, like our vacation, where we are able to turn some things off, not worry about the business and cultivate things that are life giving and bring true joy (this should be a consistent practice for everyone throughout the year and not just limited to vacation).
Coming back from our time off, I feel a renewed energy and vibrancy that could only have been achieved by truly disconnecting. I know one of the many things that will benefit is my work.
Creativity Got A Boost!
Like many small business owners, professionals and entrepreneurs, my mind is continually moving. Often times I am thinking of ways to solve a problem, a new service to introduce to clients, a new article to write and the list goes on. However, during my time away, I spent less time trying to think through issues and just let my mind wander with no limitation. I spent countless hours in conversations with my wife over our morning coffee overlooking the river, discussions at the night time fire pit with a friend of three decades and additionally engaged in play from kayaking, playing in the lake, four wheeling and a host of other activities.
The result has been a boost to my creative thought process and thinking - this blog is one of the outputs.
When we are intentional of cultivating play and letting our minds uncouple from our work, we actually help ourselves longer term and improve our ability to be creative.
I Did Not Miss My Phone
Knowing that we intended to unplug during our vacation, we had committed to not letting our phones intrude on the time we would have as a family. While it helped that we were in a remote part of the country, I found that as the days went by I grew less concerned with what was happening on social media and other apps that I have on my phone. There were even a few times where I was not certain where my phone was.
We are so addicted to our devices and while they can be useful business tools, they can also serve as a big distraction from what is important.
I found the break from it was refreshing and am intent on making more of a commitment to step away from it during the course of my normal working weeks as there is no need to be continually tethered to it.
We all need a break from time to time. We need rest, we need downtime and we need to do better at taking care of ourselves. I’ve been told that it is not possible to truly take a break from work and my last two weeks would say that is a fallacy. I encourage all to take the time, unplug, disconnect and invest in yourself and your relationships. You and your business will be better for it!