I realized something over the past few weeks…. I’m kind of insane. I suppose in some ways all of us self employed entrepreneur types are a little insane. After all we risked everything, threw caution to the wind , gave up the steady paycheck, paid vacation, sick days, healthcare, and 401k matches to follow our dreams; many of us struggling and barely scraping by the first couple of years to build something we passionately and whole-heartedly believe in.
Sure, the surgery wasn’t life-threatening (I had my uterus removed) and it went smoothly and was a huge success. But I had allowed myself 2 weeks off to recover and yet there I was in my hospital bed doped up on Morphine and Percocets just hours after leaving the O.R reading and responding to work emails (and I was surprisingly lucid and effective…). – And I was home the next day at my computer writing blogs, catching up on Fortune Marketing Company Social Media Marketing, brainstorming titles for and writing chapters of my book, and organizing future workshops and webinars. Basically, I was doing anything but actually taking time off.
I am such a hypocrite!
I consult small business owners all the time about the importance of taking time to themselves – and even how an effective marketing strategy can help you do that. What I realized through my own experience is that you have to WANT to take time off – and maybe just like selling or marketing or accounting or networking it’s a learned skill for we crazy entrepreneur-types! So, even after major surgery, I guess I just didn’t know how to want to take time off…
But then on my 10th post-op day something happened…. My morning started with coffee with my friends, and then I decided to go on hike rather than go back to my home office, after the hike I decided to enjoy the beautiful summer day and splurge on a leisurely outdoor lunch at a little country café near the park. While enjoying my turkey, bacon and avocado sandwich and fries, I thought that my dusty tennis-shoed feet could probably use a pedicure. After my pedi I took a meandering midweek Sunday-drive in the country and made a couple of serendipitous stops at local produce stands where I sampled local nectarines and tomatoes and talked to my neighbors. I ended up with bags of ripe fresh produce and went home and cooked myself a nice dinner… before I knew it, I had gone a whole entire day without turning on my laptop or reading a single email. Not a single drop of work – that is unless you count the thinking I did – and that’s what hit me: I realized I was thinking clearly! During my day away from emails, research, blogs, Facebook, and Twitter thoughts and ideas and plans and dreams were flooding my brain like crazy! I felt refreshed and clear-headed and alert and alive!
So, I took the next day off, and then the day after that – and before I knew it, I had strung together 3 work-free days – just in time to “officially” go back to work. I was soon lamenting the fact that I had to go back so soon and was wishing I’d learned to let work go on Day One!
See the problem is as a small business owner, and especially as a small business owner who is still very much in start-up mode, there is always stuff to do. – ALWAYS. My mental to-do list has no end. So doing nothing, or reading a fun book instead of a work book, or lounging by the pool, or taking a hike, or a drive, or just watching Netflix without the heat from my laptop burning the skin of my lap, I feel guilty. I always feel like I should be doing more.
But surgery (finally) taught me that taking time off is crucial to success. When I came back I was refreshed and invigorated with new ideas. I talk a lot about the difference between working on our businesses and in them and that time “off” where I could clear my head and not be bogged down by the tactical details of working “in” my business allowed me the brain-space to strategize and plan the future direction of my business – and my life!
And the Moral is….
Taking time of work is work because it allows our minds to clear of all of the fires and the “stuff” of running a business and allows us to get out from under ourselves so we can see the big picture again; to strategize, to think… to dream, to plan – to actually be business owners and entrepreneurs rather than overworked and underpaid employees of our own companies! (Or is this just some reverse psychology ploy the right side of my brain is using to trick the left side into succumbing to this theory? ). So go ahead – take the day off – and don’t feel guilty, you’re still working!!!
I’d love to hear your story about life lessons you’ve learned as a small business owner. Please feel free to leave your comments!!! Leave your comments here.
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