Make Yourself Take Vacation
This is what my face looks like on vacation.
It isn’t just the culture, nature, and sunshine giving me that glow. It’s that I’m not at work.
Don’t get me wrong. I often send tweets with #ILoveMyJob because all of my work is deeply fulfilling.
But it’s also exhausting.
Caring deeply about something (anything) often means we put in extra time. We get up early and steal time from the weekend to create its infrastructure. It takes up part of our brain space even when we’re playing with our kids.
There’s a reason clergy and academics take sabbaticals.
Their traditions recognize that we need deep rest from mental work.
Yet Hustle Culture makes it seem like if you rest for just an afternoon, you’ll miss your chance at making a million.
Maybe this is just me (but I don’t think so): Even when I’m on vacation, my business has still set up shop in my head, the shop just shrinks temporarily. My empire is still a part of the low key background noise.
When I take a step away from being IN THE WORK, the background processes are still kicking and I end up hearing my own insights loud and clear.
That’s how, on a hike through the rainforest, I got the best idea for a newsletter article.
On a weekend trip to Chicago, I realized I don’t want to take on any more design projects.
I don’t know about you but by Summer 2021 I was in a streak of burnout so bad that I knew I was going to self destruct if I didn’t get a little break.
So my partner and I found a location within driving distance (so we could stay isolated and also because we had teenagers), and rented an AirBNB (again, no contact with others), right on Lake Erie. We hiked and kayaked.
On Day 4 I woke up at 3am with the idea for Evergreen Empire.
The AirBNB was set up as a vacation home for a family with small children. Perfect. I cracked open the art supply tub and pulled out fluorescent note cards.
Me, my coffee, and my new note cards stared out at the dark lake and sketched out the architecture of this new adventure.
When my partner shuffled into the living room at 5am, I said “Babe, I just started a new business.”
I can guarantee that you wouldn’t be reading this newsletter right now had I ignored my signs of burnout and continued to push through. It’s almost like I have to get away in order to do my best work.
It took me 9 years of running my business before I set up an actual out-of-office reply. In my head, I thought, I’ll lose a client if I don’t write back to them immediately.
The pandemic helped me remember that the world needs a little less pressure and a little more grace. Nothing would fall apart if I didn’t respond within 24 hours.
When you build your own empire, you get to be your own boss. So be the best boss in the world. The best boss in the world would make you take vacation.
Now for your moment of truth. Write to me with the last time you took a proper vacation.
Where did you go? The answer could just be “I went to my couch, not computer, for a whole week.” Vacations, especially in a pandemic, don’t have to involve travel. My dear friend Kate commits to a week off per quarter and most of the time, she spends it just hanging around her house, petting her pup, not thinking about work.
Do you recall getting any clarity or insights when you stepped away from the grind for a moment?