Why Entrepreneurs Need to Stop Fearing Vacations
Your workaholic ways drive you to succeed. But if you don't give yourself time to recharge, you could do more harm than good.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Entrepreneurs are some of the hardest-working individuals on the planet, and we have powerful reasons to stay motivated. When we start a business, we're responsible for our own livelihood as well as that of our employees. It can be a heavy burden to bear.
The added weight on the shoulders might be why a large percentage of entrepreneurs find it difficult to break away from work for even a short period of time. For some, full-blown vacations seem impossible.
I'm guilty myself. In the past, I've treated vacations like the plague and made every excuse to avoid taking them. That way of thinking finally changed, though. As I write this, I'm battling a serious case of jet lag. My fiancée and I just returned from a quick holiday trip to Hawaii. And while the island destination is better suited for a longer stay, the four-day break was a big step for me.
It's also the best thing I could've done for myself and my business. Here are a few reasons why I'm already planning our next vacation.
Travel inspires fresh ideas.
I think about my business all the time, and I'm sure most entrepreneurs do the same. There isn't anything wrong with that -- the best ideas and visions might come to us while we're in a relaxing setting, away from the office.
My Hawaii trip sparked so many new ideas and opportunities. In fact, a new business venture was born after a few emails -- en route to dinner via an Uber ride. I knew I wouldn't be able to completely unplug from work, but I did promise myself I'd try to relax as much as possible. That relaxation inspired new ideas. I set some of them in motion before we landed from our 13-hour flight home.
Related: How to Vacation Like a Boss
Travel tests automated systems.
Most businesses with an online presence use some form of automation, be it lead generation or lead/sales nurturing. Just before we left for Hawaii, I'd set up a few new, automated funnels to market new courses and consulting programs. I was excited to see how they would perform while I was on vacation.
Automating a large percentage of your business enables it to run on its own while you are away. It's a beautiful thing. During my trip, I learned some components of my automation worked very well, but others needed tweaking. Sometimes the only way to truly test your systems is to give them a real-world run-through.
Travel brings great personal rewards.
I knew I deserved to get away, but I'd always made excuses why the timing wasn't right. Now that I've finally taken a proper vacation (and had an amazing experience), I'm already planning my next trip. To keep myself on track, I established a target goal to hit before I step away from my business again.
This is a great way to help push yourself and your business toward achieving landmark milestones. Entrepreneurs are very stubborn people. We expect nothing but excellence from ourselves, and we don't give ourselves enough credit when we succeed. It's not selfish to reward yourself. Once you get a taste of how a real vacation benefits you and your business, you can establish a vacation-based reward system that works for you.
Travel recharges your mind and body.
Being an entrepreneur is hard. It's mentally and physically tiring.
When you get away and allow yourself to truly relax, you can focus on recharging your mind and body. Constantly running yourself into the ground leads to exhaustion, and your work inevitably suffers.
I made this mistake for years. I never took time off, and I worked ridiculous hours. I was beat mentally and physically -- and it showed in my productivity.
In Hawaii, I soaked up the sun on the beach, treated myself to massages and unplugged as much as possible. I came back fully recharged and ready to crush it at work.
Related: How Millennials May Be Ruining Vacations for All of Us
Travel helps you refocus.
While I didn't want to leave paradise, I did want to dive headfirst back into my work. I was excited about multiple opportunities and new ideas. After a half-day to readjust to my home time zone, I was ultra-focused.
I'd always feared going away on vacation would have the opposite impact. I worried I'd lose momentum. I couldn't have been more wrong (and I hate admitting when I've misjudged a situation).
Related: Let's Stop Fetishizing Entrepreneurs' Hours
Don't make the same mistake I made for several years. Embrace your time away and take full advantage of the many benefits a vacation offers for your body, spirit and business.