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.