Running a business means making a sacrifice or two, both professional and personal. With summer officially over, fewer personal sacrifices need to be made: festivals are winding down, vacations are recent memories, and everyone has their minds back to work or school.
Not so for the small business owner and operator. They never stop. At least I didn't this past summer.
There were many events, parties, and get togethers I couldn't attend. It got so depressing, I avoided using Facebook since everyone was talking and posting pictures of the fun they were having. It wears down the spirit knowing you missed out on so much with the people you love. But when you're in charge, that's one of the sacrifices you have to make; putting work before your personal life.
In early May, I took a weekend job to make ends meet financially. Studio work was slow and I had my eye on landing an office space. I gave up the prime hours of my weekends to make extra cash to afford renting the office. It was the best move I made professionally this year (so far) and I don't regret working to make this dream a reality. But it came with a cost, a personal one. One that I've had to repeat to friends all summer, "I can't go. I'm working."
I put work first because I wanted it to succeed, and I knew the price I would pay for that effort. Even now, I make those choices everyday. It's impossible to cram everything into every free moment with no regard to burn out. I can't sacrifice my well being just for a few hours of fun. It will drag down the most valuable thing I have: my health.
While business has slowly picked up, it's important to take care of the one in charge. Sacrificing all the time will make work a terrible place to be and ruin the point of going solo. I did take a few small trips over the summer to alleviate my itch for traveling. I have one more trip planned in the next few weeks which will have to hold me over till next year.
On the smaller scale, taking a half day from the office to just catch up with house-hold chores is sometimes relaxing. Even one day off a week to do nothing is enjoyable, until I get bored and end up back at the office later. It's a curse wanting to work so much. As long as I can find enjoyment in small things, I don't feel quite as bad when I miss the bigger things due to work.
There's no reason not to make plans for bigger vacations next year. It's just a matter of keeping clients in the know of when you won't be available. Everyone is entitled to some time off, and your clients will completely understand. And it's all about balancing work and personal life.
I've pushed my personal life aside for a while but I know it's only temporary. If I earn enough to not need my weekend job, maybe I'll bid them farewell or take a month off during their slower season. Being in charge means I have to make all the big decisions. I have to pick what is best for myself in tandem with what's best for my business. It's only just started, so I'm sure I have lots of time to learn.
Vacation abound! Well, for many people anyway. It's July 4th and is the last day for a long weekend for many people. Those of us that work for ourselves, this weekend might have been nothing more than a time to play catch up on projects. But where is the fun in that? We are entitled to time off as well.
You're the boss of a company and it's your job to make sure: invoices get sent out, emails get followed up, bills are paid, and vacation time is assigned. That's right; assign vacation time. I only use the term "assign" to emphasis how important it is to give yourself a break every once in a while. You'll have to plan your project schedules around your time off anyway. Why not make vacation another project? The problem with viewing vacation as a break from work means you have to uncouple your thoughts from work mode. Which is the point but it has always been a problem for me, personally. But when I treated time off like another project, I was able to flow out and back into work mode without as much strain on my brain. Time off is just as important as getting work done.
Coming home from a vacation seems to take a long time to adjust to. Getting back into work mode is a struggle as your mind is still on that beach you left just days ago. You're back in the office but you aren't mentally caught up. That's why I treat time off as an assignment. I'm aware of the start date and end date, which keeps my brain in a work flow mode. There's a deadline to be mindful of. You can still enjoy your time away from work, but freelancing demands you to jump back in immediately. Unless you delegate projects to other people, it's on you to pick up where you left off. That can be stressful and might undo all that relaxing in the woods by the lake you just accomplished.
No matter where you go on your vacation, enjoy it. No matter how much time off you are able to give yourself, enjoy it. You are allowed to relax and take a day or two to breathe with out emails and projects nagging you. Whether you stay at home or fly to the other side of the globe, take a moment to yourself and relax. You've earned it.