If you’re an entrepreneur/freelancer, you’re a unique breed.
This is where you insert one of those “what people think I do” memes here (please feel free to share your own in the comments)
Truth is, unless you’re one of us, you just don’t understand. And that’s ok. The world takes all types, but what I want to put out there is about how HARD entrepreneurs work and, just tell me if this identifies with you:
- I can’t take a vacation because I’ll have to cancel clients/work and lose money
- If I take a vacation I”ll let people down, they need me
- People need me, therefore my schedule is completely dependent on my clients
If you identified with any of these, you’re not alone. Bu to go with the meme, lots of people think being an entrepreneur means you have infinite flexibility, yet, in reality, you are, to a degree, at the mercy of your client’s schedule. When you trade time for money, it’s not that simple, is it?
Yet I want to tell you this:
YOU DESERVE A VACATION LIKE ANYONE ELSE
Not just deserve, you freaking NEED to plan it into your schedule. You owe so much of your time to your clients, you can’t let them run your life, you’ll be of no use.
Do it, right now, Stop and look at your schedule. Because, if you’re an ENFJ (or close to it, especially the J part) like me, you live by your schedule. But there comes a time in life you have to plan your schedule instead of letting it plan you. Be INTENTIONAL about it.
So look at your schedule, what do you see? What I see is that life for me fills up about a week out, so, even though I have weekly clients, I can reschedule/cancel them and plan my own vaca, just like they do to me and it’s all good.
Here’s what I say:
PLAN AT LEAST A WEEK OFF FOR YOURSELF AT LEAST TWICE A YEAR.
Doesn’t just saying that make you feel lighter inside? Like there’s hope?
If you can do more than that great, but that should be the minimum. Look at your calendar and figure out what time works best for you and say “this is when I’ll take vacation”. You don’t have to know where you’re going, and you don’t have to go anywhere, but block out some time, now, a year in advance, and if it’s on your schedule like that you just have to say “oh, I’m out of town that time” and your clients/ students will understand, no problem.
Here’s the thing: if you give your schedule control, you’ll let it control you. You will become a workaholic, a slave to your schedule, unable to reschedule or alter anything for fear of letting your clients down. Listen here. You let them down when you DON’T take a break because you are not modeling balance. They will end up taking advantage of you because you encourage that all in the name of the mighty dollar.
This is not ok.
All of you who say “I haven’t taken a vacation since 1994” or whatever, listen up.
You are doing yourself and your clients a DEEP disservice by not creating balance in your own life. People, no matter how driven, were not made to go 100% hard all the time. Don’t you espouse the benefits of rest and sleep to your clients/students? Think about it, all those things that create balance in your life, you know they’re important, why are YOU different?
You’re not different.
Here’s the beauty of it though, you have to schedule it to make it so, and then it just becomes another part of your schedule. I took my first week long vacation last year on a whim because I was so incredibly burned out, I just couldn’t think for other people anymore, I didn’t know what I wanted in life, be it personal, relational, business, etc. I was BURNED OUT. And so I had a gracious friend who offered me a place to stay in the mountains, and as much as I love her, I just wanted time to myself, and it was LIFE CHANGING. I spent a week doing whatever I wanted on my own time frame. I went where I wanted, when I wanted. I ate and drank what I wanted. I read, I slept, I hiked, I reveled in the joy of nature, I sat AND DID NOTHING and it was marvelous.
Why do we think vacations should end when we are children? They are not luxuries they are necessities. What I learned through that week was that I needed to plan for this on a regular basis, or else, it wouldn’t happen. There are ways to keep your expenses minimal while still resting and enjoying life.
Here’s how I did it:
- Decide on a time frame. PLEASE, give yourself A SOLID WEEK IF AT ALL POSSIBLE, INCLUDING WEEKENDS (because you need a day before to prepare or travel, and a day afterwards to reacclimate, do laundry, etc.)
- Be open to what’s close to you. Where haven’t you gone? It doesn’t have to be grand, but what do you need? Do you need time for your soul to rest, recharge, relax? Do you need mountains, beach? Sun? Do you need exercise or no exercise? ALL IS OK. If you’re in the fitness world, your vacations DO NOT HAVE TO BE ACTIVE. Did you read that? Let it sink in. You need time to REST. If you go 100% on all the time, you’re not giving your brain time to process, you’re not giving your body, your endocrine system, your limbic system, your muscles, etc. time to relax. You HAVE to have this time. Heck, God SPOKE things into being and after 6 days of it needed to rest…..take a cue, man. You’re not better or more superhuman than God.
- Go by yourself. When I took my vacation last year, I knew I needed to unplug from civilization. I took a vaca with a friend and ended up exhausted from it, feeling like I had to lead her around and make decisions. I needed a destination by myself so I could do what I wanted whenever. And you know what I did? I slept in. I read a lot of good books. I reconnected with who I was, and WHY I was doing what I was doing and had the time to ask and answer the hard questions: why am I doing this? Is this what I really want? Am I on the right path? What do I really want my life to look like going forward?
- Make excuses you can’t back out of. Do you need an excuse? Sign up for a race, a ride, an event out of town, now you HAVE to go because you’ve spent money. 🙂
This year was different, I didn’t need the introspection. This year, I just needed a break and I took a little under 5 days and I can tell you, it’s not enough. I had a friend join me and while it was fun, I needed solid days of peace, of no agenda, of putting my ear down close to my soul and really listening to what I really needed and what I’ve found is, this was a breather, but it was over so fast….I’m not ready to go back. So….I’m planning a longer one just before school starts…and one at Christmas break….and….plan for it.
So, IF YOU DON’T MAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF, IT WON’T HAPPEN.
You’re the boss, you can make it happen. Tell your clients, you’re gone for x amount of time and more than likely they’ll be excited for you, give you recommendations and ask for pictures! We all need breaks. It’s not a luxury, it’s mandatory. Sometimes you need to take the time to do continuing education, I get that, build some extra days into that. Sometimes you need a complete recharge, DO THAT.
So that was long term. Let’s talk short term, as in daily planning.
If you’re like me and you show your schedule to your non self-employed friends, they laugh uneasily and then look at you funny. They don’t get it, and they won’t, but that’s ok, because it’s what you were born to do.
You were not born to work.
You have to have times during your week you say “I stop training/teaching here”. Because otherwise you’ll be at the mercy of everyone else’s schedule. It’s not completely cut and dried and everyone has to come up with their own model, but let’s be real, we work because we LOVE what we do and if we don’t plan for ourselves, we won’t have that time. You won’t have time to plan for yourself to pursue a relationship, to enjoy having down time (making time for yourself, is just as valuable as trading time for money sometimes….think about that) If you don’t have time to devote to friends, a loved one, family, a date now….you won’t ever. The schedule won’t change, YOU have to change your priorities. Are you afraid of committing to a date/relationship/family/fun, etc.? Afraid things will take away from your money-making potential? I can almost guarantee they won’t. Because when you make time for balance: personal:spiritual:business, things are just that, in balance. But being self-employed, no one can set priorities for you.
It took me a long time to realize this and now I’m at the point where I realize just how necessary it is to rest, travel, relax, experience and do things outside of work. I come back more inspired, more excited and more ready to go than before.
So if you’re self employed and you’ve implemented this, leave a comment and share what happend, how you make it work, etc. In the meantime, I’m going to finish planning my next vaca 🙂