Keeping a reality check on what is actually achievable at any given time is SO important. Whether it’s life, work or parenting it’s important for everyone… but it’s absolutely vital for business owners if you’re going to survive beyond the initial adrenalin of the start-up phase and not burn out when you start to level-up.
I am very tough on myself when it comes to getting stuff done and making the absolute most of every single waking and working moment I have. It started out this way when I began working in recruitment. It was the late 90s and everyone I knew was working hard so they could play hard. Being seen at the right bar, drinking the right drink, wearing the right gear was high on the list of ‘success markers’. No-one wanted to leave the office first for fear of being seen as a ‘slacker’ and everyone aimed to arrive in the morning before the boss, hangover or not, so they could already be on the phone getting deals done. There were targets to meet and leaderboards to climb so everyone made the absolute most of every moment. It was a culture that self-perpetuated and I was right on board.
When I started running my own business, I felt a pressure of a different sort.
There was no-one watching over me to see what time I arrived, nor were there sales targets to meet, but there was a little thing called parenting that added a whole new level of get-it-done-fast to my work day. My actual work hours were very limited given my children were small, we lived interstate from all family and friends, and I had little help in terms of childcare. I learned to cram a LOT into a small amount of time and make the absolute most of every minute. I also worked a lot in the evenings when the kids were asleep, which was a necessary but unhealthy habit.
As my business has progressed and the children have grown (though are still not both at school), I have maintained the fast pace of work even though my hours have increased. I ensure I waste as little time as possible on tasks that don’t serve me or move me forward at all. I have to tell you though that I am by no means perfect at this. By NO means. I get lost down the Facebook rabbit hole, and wander off on the Google trail, just like many others. I am no saint or robot, but the good work habits that were ingrained into my life out of necessity have managed to hang around during times of less pressure. For which I’m very grateful.
So let me tell then you how disappointed I’ve been about the lack of output in the last 5 weeks whilst on holidays.
I know I know, it’s a holiday – and by the very nature of that word I’m supposed to not be working. However, as most of you know, when you own your own business, you never really ever have a holiday again! Unless you have the systems and people in place to make it run entirely without your input, it is likely you will always have to check in at some point whilst holidaying. My plan was to definitely have a break from client work, but to get a lot of my own writing and creation done. I thought I’d have the headspace for that whilst relaxing, and given my ability to make the most out of every waking moment, I thought I’d have the time.
Well. I’ve had to let go a bit (ok, a lot!) of my drive to make the most out of every moment and achieve everything I’d planned whilst travelling.
I thought I’d get so much writing done, thought I’d breeze through the final check of my book, thought I’d write a while new offering for you…
Instead, I’ve spent a lot more time refereeing children, wrangling GPS’s, watching people, eating and drinking everything in sight (and doing other wonderful things), than I’d expected. And apart from the first on the list, I’m pretty pleased with that!
I just don’t really know where the time has gone and what has sucked my creative energy every day, but here I am, sitting at Charles de Gaulle in Paris, waiting to board my flight home without any of my work plans achieved. But you know what? It’s all good. I’ve done and seen so much whilst away. I’ve learnt a lot about the world, about others and myself. I’ve learnt new French vocab, read umpteen guide books, maps and brochures, met wonderful people and learnt a lot about my parenting skills. I’ve experienced wild adventures, felt uncomfortable and nervous, had massive highs and a couple lows. I’ve also had a reality check about work and the machinations of my mind. I realised about a week ago that I had to let go of the tension surrounding the achievement of my to-do list and just be grateful for the time out with my family. The 24/7 nature of the kids was tricky, but I was incredibly lucky to be where I was, experiencing what I was, so I should just suck it up and enjoy it. The reality check for me was clear: you can plan as much as you like, but you can only achieve what is possible in any given circumstance. And THAT, my friends, is ok.
I think I needed the time out more than I realised.
I hope you manage to find your time out when the time is right too.