by Julia Pimsleur, author, speaker and coach, and the founder of Little Pim
When did you last take a proper one or two-week vacation? One where you didn’t check email and created space to remember who you are as a friend, traveler, lover, wife, mother or whatever other parts of your identity are meaningful to you? I just came back from a two-week vacation with my boys in Europe, and I want you to have one too. It’s good for your health, your family and yes, 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 created a job for yourself. You have a business when you are lying on a beach reading a novel, and your business is still making money. I recently read this 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 requires attention to the spaces in between, as much as to the wood.
A fire grows simply because the space is there, with openings in which the flame that knows just how it wants to burn can find its way.
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, 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 lose money?” Right? Wrong. When you don’t take time off, you lose money because you risk burning out, you aren’t forcing yourself to put in systems and delegations best practices that allow you to leave, and 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. 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 possibly 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 three European cities. On the plane on the way home, after barely even saying “Million Dollar” and “Women” in one sentence for two full weeks, I had so many new insights about my branding, Masterclass, blog posts, and upcoming book that I spent the entire six-hours writing them up. And I feel great.
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. Please forward this to blog post to fella entrepreneur how to do the same and help her make it a reality. If you didn’t, it’s not too late to schedule that yoga retreat or week-long visit to your friends this fall. If you are not sure if you can afford to go, 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 energy and ability to execute on your vision depends on it.
Julia Pimsleur is on a mission to help one million women entrepreneurs get to $1M in revenues by 2020. Julia is an author, speaker and coach and the founder of Little Pim, one of the few women-run businesses backed by venture capital in the country. Little Pim is the leading system for introducing young children to a second language and has won 25 awards for its proprietary Entertainment Immersion Method®. Its products are sold in 22 countries. Julia has raised a combined $26 million in non-profit and for-profit dollars. She wrote “Million Dollar Women: The Essential Guide for Female Entrepreneurs Who Want to Go Big” to help women learn to raise capital and take their businesses further, faster.
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