How many vacation days do you think the average business owner takes per year?
Now before you answer, let's define VACATION.
(REALLY- press the button and HEAR the sound of Vacation!!)
[vey-key-shuh n, vuh-]
- a period of suspension of work, study, or other activity, usually used for rest, recreation, or travel; recess or holiday: School children are on vacation now.
- a part of the year, regularly set aside, when normal activities of lawcourts, legislatures, etc., are suspended.
- freedom or release from duty, business, or activity.
MOST business owners NEVER take a real vacation. They might leave the office and pitch a tent somewhere, but the physical act of 'suspending work' or being 'released from duty' is another story entirely. After 19 years in business, I took my very first actual VACATION last week and it was a new experience! No computer, no emails, no conversations on business and no wondering how things were going back at the office. (I DID read a book on Leadership but resisted the urge to immediately map out a plan of action ) Here are the action steps I took BEFORE my vacation that actually helped make this one a lot different than the 'faux' vacations of the past!
- KNOW WHY A REAL VACATION IS CRITICAL TO YOU & YOUR TEAM: When you do not take the time to unplug from your work life, many things can start to have a cumulative and negative effect.
You can become:
- OVER STRESSED
- LESS PRODUCTIVE
- MORE DEMANDING
Your team can become:
- OVER LOOKED
- LESS CREATIVE
- MORE DEPENDENT
Unplugging can rejuvenate you and your team when you understand the WHY and take the time to set everyone up for success during your vacation.
- MAKE A DECISION: Decide that a REAL vacation is something you are committed to taking. If you do not stop to make a conscious decision, you will end up inadvertently working during your time away from the office. Remember- during a REAL vacation, you are not engaged in work and you are giving your brain some much needed time away!
- SET YOUR TEAM UP FOR SUCCESS: Be sure you empower your team to make the necessary decisions that might arise while you are on vacation. Are your policies and procedures clear? Does your team know what you would do? Are they FREE to make the occasional mistake? MISTAKE? Yes- if they make the wrong decision- are you going to freak out or are you going to calmly address the reason a different decision might have had a better end result? If your team knows your Mission & Vision, your polices and they feel FREE to make a decision (right or wrong), you have earned the luxury of taking a real vacation!
- USE YOUR 'OUT OF OFFICE' ASSISTANT: Set your email up to alert others to your absence and provide the necessary contact information if action is needed prior to your return. This enables your team to handle whatever comes up and guess what? When your team KNOWS that you trust them to handle whatever arises- they RISE and they HANDLE things!
- UNPLUG: So this might be the hardest part (it was for me!)- LEAVE YOUR COMPUTER at home! TURN OFF your cell phone! If these magnetic business devices are on- they can PULL you back to work at anytime! Use your power to POWER DOWN and insure that you are truly on vacation. As important as you are as the business owner, there are very few things that only YOU can handle (OUCH!!). A well prepped team can handle everything during your absence- THEY NEED YOU RESTED more than they need to reach you while you are refueling.
- ACCOUNTABILITY: This last little step is SUPER helpful! I actually had emails that said- 'Hey, I know you don't have your phone so when you get back...". or "Glad to know you are on vacation- call me when you get back." Letting your team, your vendors and your associates know you are 'GOING OFF THE GRID' does two things. #1- it sets the proper expectation and #2- it holds you accountable!
80% of business owners take 1 week of vacation per year (or less). My guess is that 'REAL' VACATIONS are rare. It is tough to break away from your passion. TOUGH but necessary! So strengthen your contribution and your team's overall output by doing what it takes to GET AWAY for real!
Now that vacation is over for me, I get to go- BACK TO WORK