How to Protect Your Greatest Asset
When did you last take a two-week vacation? One where you didn’t check email and could remember who you are as a friend, traveler, lover, wife, mother or whatever other parts of your identity are meaningful to you? Haivng returned from a vacation and expeirenced the innumerable benefits, I want you to have one, too! It’s good for your brain, your health, your family and your business.
If your business is only making money when you are showing up, then I have bad news for you… you don’t have a business, you have a job you created for yourself. And one that probably doesn’t even have good benefits! You have a business when you are lying on a beach reading a novel, and you are still making money.
To further illustrate this point, here’s a poem (may thanks to my son’s school principal, Jessica Bagby, who shared this poem in her back-to-school email) about the importance of the “space in between.”
What makes a fire burn
is space between the logs,
a breathing space.
Too much of a good thing,
too many logs
packed in too tight
can douse the flames
almost as surely
as a pail of water would.
So building fires
to the spaces in between,
as much as to the wood.
simply because the space is there,
in which the flame
that knows just how it wants to burn
can find its way.[i]
Taking a Brain Break
We can get so caught up in the frenzy of building our businesses that we forget to leave “the spaces in between” the logs, and take brain breaks. By a brain break, I don’t mean a weekend without checking email or going to the movies (which I recognize can both feel monumental sometimes).
In the early days of my business, it was really hard to “allow myself” to take time off. I felt guilty and I thought: “I own my own business, so when I don’t work I am losing money?” Right? Wrong.
When you don’t take time off, you are losing money because you risk burning out, you aren’t forcing yourself to create systems and implement delegations best practices that allow you to leave, and most importantly, you are not treating yourself as your company’s greatest asset.
Research has shown that giving your brain a rest allows you to see things differently and leaves you room to dream. Check out this TED Talk on how boredom leads to creativity. Taking time off also sends a message to your staff, investors, and advisors that you know you are the linchpin in your business, and you will take good care of that linchpin so that the company can keep growing and paying their salaries — or building value for investors.
Or you can take it from the Apple technician who helped me at the Genius Bar a couple weeks ago when my iPhone was acting up and freezing each time I opened Contacts. Him: “Every so often you have to power down your iPhone completely.” Me: “Why?” Him: “For optimal performance.”
While I was away, I could practically feel my brain cells regenerating. Before my vacation, I had been working super hard, not getting enough sleep, and multi-tasking to a degree that was perilous. During my two weeks on vacation, I took my email off my phone because I knew I couldn’t trust myself not to check it (I kept social media since I enjoy posting and don’t see it as “work”). I played cards and Boggle with my kids, relaxed on the beach, saw old friends and family, ate amazing food, and showed my boys two European cities. On the plane on the way home, after barely even saying “million” and “women” in one sentence for two full weeks, I had so many new insights about Masterclass, blog posts, and my upcoming book that I spent the entire six-hours flight home writing them up. And I feel totally re-energized and excited for the fall, even though I am heading into some big professional mountains to climb.
A day in London
How can you afford not to?
You don’t need to go as far as France to unwind. If you did already take a real vacation this summer, brava. In that case, please forward this to blog post to a fellow entrepreneur who needs the same and help her make it a reality. If you didn’t, it’s not too late to schedule that yoga retreat or visit to your friends this fall. Make sure to take your email off your phone when you do! If you are not sure if you can afford to take time off, consider asking instead “how can I afford not to?” Going on vacation means you have the right systems in place so that not everything depends on you, and that you are taking care of your most valuable resource. Your sustained energy and ability to execute on your vision depends on it. What could be more important than that?
Check out my free Video Primer series here to learn more about self-care and what Million Dollar Women do.
[i] “Fire” by Judy Brown