How many weeks are you taking off this year?
Spoiler alert: If the answer is “I don’t know,” then the real answer is “none”.
How many of us signed up for this “work for yourself” thing because we wanted control over our schedules, only to somehow realize it’s actually harder to take time off now than it was when you were “working for the man”?
What the heck happened?
This is not how it was supposed to go.
Let’s try something crazy.
Right now, ask yourself: how many weeks a year do I want to work?
· 44 weeks? Maybe taking two months off all at once with your kids in the summer?
· 48 weeks? Taking a week off each quarter all year?
· 50 weeks? Taking the last two weeks of the year off to celebrate and reflect?
I’m guessing one part of you saw one of these and thought:
“OMG, THAT WOULD BE AMAZING!” and then another voice immediately said:
“There’s no way you could do that. That’s ridiculous.”
Maybe your thoughts sounded like this:
“My clients won’t let me take that much time off – they’ll fire me and find someone else!”
“How will I make money during that time? It’s just me here! Who is going to do the work?”
“Who takes summers off besides teachers??? People will think I’m lazy. I can’t just skip out on my business. That’s completely irresponsible! ”
“Even if I hired help so I could have time away, how do I know they’ll do a good job? I’ll still be worrying about it while I’m off, so why do it? I’ll just work a little each day while I’m ‘off’.”
But we need to push back against this internal dialogue a little bit. You got into this gig because you wanted flexibility, remember?
And we need to keep this in mind too: Rest, time away, relaxation, joy, and time with loved ones recharges us. Taking time off regularly so you don’t burn out is actually the MOST responsible thing you can do as a business owner. It recharges your creative energy and creates a sustainable working environment.
Still stuck on the “impossible” part? Often, our internal dialogue decides it’s not possible before we even consider the “how.”
That’s what I want to challenge you to do today.
Think of how many weeks per year you want to work and then instead of asking “Is it possible?” ask yourself, “How do I make this possible?”
The answers to that question are limitless, but for starters, here are some possible solutions:
- Set expectations with clients up front about time you’ll take off. Assure them you’ll communicate this ahead of time with lots of notice and the two of you will work out a plan in advance.
- Figure out the rates you need to charge based on the weeks per year you want to work, instead of defaulting to 52. Raise your rates accordingly.
- Get help NOW. Don’t wait until a week before vacation. Start creating working relationships with freelancers or a virtual assistant you can call on when you’re out. Find other solopreneurs in the same area of expertise who you can exchange vacation coverage with you for emergency back up.
I write these out only to illustrate that there are actual, real world solutions to be able to take time off.
Yes, it will likely take planning, maybe some uncomfortable conversations, and there is the possibility that you could lose a client.
Hear this: You’ll find another client. You do fantastic work. Your problem isn’t having too little work; it’s having so much to do and so little focused time that your efforts get diluted.
If you want to have the life you want along with the business you want, these are part of the boundaries that will need to be set.
If not working 52 weeks a year means you lose a client, their loss creates space for a better client – one who is more aligned with the kind of work/life balance you want. So many of us are striving for that, and each time one of us chooses to make it possible, it gives the rest of us permission to do the same.
Last week, when another brilliant coach colleague suggested working 44 weeks a year, my first reaction was “WHAT? HOW?”
But then I started to think about it – to think about how to make it possible. I thought about what I wanted my life to look like, about what kind of schedule would bring me the most joy and help me recharge as an entrepreneur. I also sat down and figured out how much my rates need to be in order for me to take this time off without losing income.
So, I’m committing to working 44 weeks a year. I’m taking off July and December each year. No joke.
For this first year, it’s not completely possible because I didn’t work it into my contracts ahead of time, so I’m taking off only the first two weeks of July, but you best believe December is completely off!
I’ll use the time to relax, reflect, plan for next year, see family, bake cookies, watch Trains, Planes and Automobiles (or Griswold Family Christmas), and generally revel in the joy of having the option to choose what works for me.
It feels good! Yep, a little scary, but good. Let’s build the life we want, dang it! Make this roller coaster of entrepreneurship worth it by figuring out how to do the things others only wish they could do.
Email me and tell me how many weeks per year you want to work! email@example.com (just telling someone else makes it seem more possible).