An Entrepreneur’s Guide For Knowing When To Take A Vacation


Most of us suffer from something called overconfidence bias, meaning that there's a significant gap between our belief in what we can accomplish, and the reality. I would imagine that the gap gets even wider for most entrepreneurs. I don't have any research to back this up, other than proof that if you can quit your job and step into an unknown world, create something new, and expect people to actually buy it, well, you must be pretty damned confident.

Most of us suffer from something called overconfidence bias, meaning that there's a significant gap between our belief in what we can accomplish, and the reality. I would imagine that the gap gets even wider for most entrepreneurs. I don't have any research to back this up, other than proof that if you can quit your job and step into an unknown world, create something new, and expect people to actually buy it, well, you must be pretty damned confident.

Where overconfidence bias tricks us up is when the rubber meets the road. It's the end of the day, your list of to do's is still long, and you make the decision to forego personal time and just keep grinding.

This seems like a great idea at the time, but it's only short-term thinking. I propose that entrepreneurs take a long-term thinking approach to their productivity, much like we should be doing with our business strategy, finances, and everything else. In fact, when it comes to your personal health, it feels like that should be priority number one, simply by reasoning that if you fall ill or drop dead, the rest of the planning really doesn't matter. With this in mind, here are 5 ways to know that it's time for you to take a break. Whether it's a formal vacation, or simply a meditative walk, the goal is to clear your mind so that you can perform to your best, over the long-term.

1: You're exhausted, but forcing yourself to keep going.

Jeff Bezos recently said that sleeping 8 hours per night is key to him, and his shareholders, in making good decisions. A host of other entrepreneurs, including Arianna Huffington, are declaring lack of sleep, and burnout, a multi-billion dollar crisis. Regardless of how much you want to keep going, when you're feeling lethargic you have to stop. You decision-making skills, logic and reasoning are not in the right place for you to work. And the risk of burning out is simply too high. Make good micro-decisions, for long-term greater productivity. Follow the example of the greatest entrepreneurs today and be sure to get 8 hours per night, catch up on any hours you lose, and take mental, and physical, breaks throughout the year. Your overconfidence biased brain may not believe it's necessary, but all research points the to the opposite.

2: You're stressed.

I do a lot of work in corporate culture design with emphasis on workforce wellness. Researchers have found that the costs of high-stress environments will kill a business. It's only recently that many businesses are willing to break free of the high-stress leadership styles and adapt to more long-term thinking. This applies to entrepreneurs as well. Imposing high levels of stress on yourself and your work will speed up short-term productivity, but at a great cost. Organizations with high-stress show 40% more absenteeism, make 70% more accidents, and have 50% higher healthcare costs[1]. Why are the numbers so high? Depleting your cortisol levels is bad for your mental state and bad for business. It leads to health issues, less precision, and burnout.

Take a daily assessment of your stress levels. If you're feeling out of balance, the answer isn't to work harder, it's to stop work altogether. Think about how many times you've made yourself sick from stress. All of us high-performers do it naturally, so the need is urgent to stop ourselves. A week out of work because you're not well is a greater cost than taking an hour of mental vacation to do something you enjoy.

If some people didn't tell you, you'd never know they'd been on vacation." -Kin Hubbard, American Cartoonist

3: You feel weak.

Your mind is still whirring away at your entrepreneurial venture, but your limbs just don't seem to keep up. In the fitness world we call this “dead arms" or “dead legs". It's the byproduct of over-fatigue. This can happen to you from typing on a laptop too much, just as easily as it can from lifting weights. Dead arms or dead legs means that your body is fatigued. To get your limbs back to operating at their best, its time to increase blood flow. Get a massage, or even better, get a workout in. I know it seems counter-intuitive, but when you're fatigued, a workout will increase your blood flow, which reduces the fatigued feeling you're getting. Force yourself outdoors for a run, on the treadmill, or take a fitness class. If you aren't the fitness type, I am a huge proponent of cryotherapy for body recovery. Find a cryo spa near you and give it a try. Most offer a discounted first time rate. It only takes stripping off your clothes and three minutes to get your body feeling brand new again.

4: You Feel Depressed

Depression is incredibly common among entrepreneurs for a laundry list of reasons. If you're feeling down, a great way to overcome your blues is to get out and attend a networking event or social gathering. When you're depressed this is exactly the opposite thing of what you want to do, and absolutely what you need to do. Connection is the opposite of depression. Neural networks are shown to improve in mid to moderately depressed people who attend social events. Get out and re-wire yourself, ASAP.

An often-overlooked aspect of entrepreneurial management is emotional self-management. We have to focus on our mental and emotional game as a priority if we're meant to perform at our very best. As an entrepreneur, you don't have a boss to tell you to keep going, or to take a break. Take on the role of your own boss. Keep your body and mind feeling great. Your business is counting on it.

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2020 is Around the Corner: Here's How To Design Your Next Decade

Personally, I am over the top excited that we are on the cusp of turning the page on not only a new year but also on a new 10-year window of opportunities and possibilities!

You may be thinking, whoa…I am just embracing the fall season…yikes… it is tough to think about a new decade!

Yet it is this groundwork, this forward thought that you put in place TODAY that will propel you and lead you into greatness in 2020 and beyond. Designing a new decade rests in your ability to vision, in your willingness to be curious, in your awareness of where you are now and what you most want to curate. Essentially, curating what's next is about tapping into today with confidence, conviction, and decision. Leading YOU starts now. This is your new next. It is your choice.

Sometimes to get to that 'next', you need to take a step back to reflect. Please pardon my asking you to spend time in yesterday. Those who know me personally, know that I created and continue to grow my business based on enabling the present moment as a springboard for living your legacy. So, indulge me here! True, I am asking you to peek into the past, yet it is only in order for you to bring the essence of that past forward into this moment called NOW.

One of the best ways to tap into what's next is to clarify what drives you. To design a new decade, ask yourself this question about the past ten years:

What worked? What were my successes?

Make a list of your achievements big and small. Don't type them, but rather use ink and paper and sit with and savor them. Move your thoughts and your successes from your head, to your heart, to your pen, to the paper. Remember that on the flip side of goals not attained and New Year's resolutions abandoned, there was more than likely some traction and action that moved you forward, even if the end result was not what you expected. Once you have a full list of a decade's worth of personal and professional accomplishments, think about how this makes you feel. Do you remember celebrating all of them? My guess is no. So, celebrate them now. Give them new life by validating them. Circle the successes that resonate with you most right now. Where can you lean into those accomplishments as you power into the decade ahead?

Now comes a tougher question, one that I used myself in my own mid-life reinvention and a question I adore because in a moment's time it provides you with a quick reconnect to your unique inner voice.

If it were 10 years ago and nothing were standing in your way, no fear or excuses to contend with…what would you do?

Don't overthink it. The brilliance of this question is that it refocuses purpose. Whatever first came to mind when you answered this for yourself is at its core a powerful insight into defining and redefining the FUTURE decade. Bring your answer into the light of today and what small piece of it is actionable NOW? Where is this resonating and aligning with a 2019 version of yourself?

Then, based on your success list and your answer to the above question, what is your 2020 vision for your business and for the business of YOU?

Designing a new decade begins as a collection of 3,650 opportunities. 3,650 blank slates of new days ahead in which to pivot and propel yourself forward. Every single one of those days is a window into your legacy. An invitation to be, create, explore, and chip away at this thing we call life. One 24-hour segment at a time.

While you have a decade ahead to work on design improvements, you have the ability to begin manifesting this project of YOU Version 2020 right NOW. Based on exploring the exercises in this post, begin executing your vision. Ask questions. Be present. Let go of 2019 and the past 10 years so that you can embrace the next 10. Position acceptance and self-trust at the forefront of how you lead you. One choice at a time.

Don't get bogged down in the concept of the next 10 years. Instead position clarity and intention into each new day, starting today. Then chase every one of those intentions with an in-the-moment commitment and solution toward living a legendary life!