Anti-Vacation Sentiments Are Naive
I have no idea at what point you needed to be enticed to go on your already-free-days vacation. I also have no idea where it is said that, as an “entrepreneur”, you have to find a way to make time for vacation.
Here are two things that need to be removed from our mentality:
- Whatever it is you are working on is (almost certainly) not going to kill someone if you stop doing it. Unless you are literally saving someone’s life on a daily basis, you have no reason not to stop for a bit.
- There is no honor in working 60, 80, or 100 hour weeks in the name of “starting/running your business”. You should be doing quality work that accomplishes your goals, not a certain volume of work.
I know I’m not the first person to think this. But at some point in the last two years or so, it suddenly became in vogue to work all day, every day on your project. “I can’t go on vacation this year… I don’t have the time.” I find that to just be the most professionally irresponsible thing you can do. Aside from the fact it’s just flat out a lie.
I commonly get a follow-up comment of “well I work for myself so I don’t get paid time off”. Yes, but when you work for yourself it’s your responsibility to pay for your own time off. That’s how it works: you work it into your own rate. If you don’t do that, again, professionally irresponsible.
The best thing you can is take time to go on a vacation.
I’m working on my new business venture called Simmer, an idea collaboration app. I’m also going on a 9 day vacation to Cape Cod. I’ll likely go on another long weekend trip sometime in October. This is not irresponsible. You cannot possibly do your best work 80 hours a week. It’s not possible.
Studies have even proven that you will do better work and be more rested when you return from a vacation. The study even mentions that it’s better to take a two week vacation, the optimal amount of time to relax and refresh. You have to actually go on vacation as well: turn your email refresh off, don’t take work meetings, and actually do things you don’t get to do on a regular basis.
And, to be clear, I’m not anti-hustle. I know you have to put your nose to the grindstone and get things done. Sometimes you have no choice but to stay up all night and work on your project. Moments of extra work should be emergencies only. There is no reason to stay up all night, work all day, work the next night to get something done. You are burning yourself out, it’s simple.
I know that solo-founders still have to answer support messages and never truly get an entire vacation. I would recommend though that you find a great cofounder or co-entrepreneur that would maybe be interested in exchanging vacation coverage services. I’ve done that in the past and it works out rather well.
The most valuable thing that I have learned in the past year is the most important part of whatever you are working on is your own well-being. For me, that was getting healthy and getting my vacations in. If you find yourself using a phrase like “I don’t have time to (go on vacation|run|eat well|cook my own food) because I’m (an entrepreneur|small business owner|in a startup)” you need to stop, take a look, and make some changes. Maybe do it all while you’re on vacation.
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