I celebrated last summer with a four-day work week. Taking every Friday off was a great summer plan, but one day a week simply wasn’t enough time to rejuvenate, reflect, read, write and shift the pace of my work and travel.
This summer, I decided to try a month-long sabbatical. When I made the decision, my schedule was clear and I saw the perfect opportunity to hit pause, relax and actually do some meaningful work on the business (instead of working in it).
I also anticipated what might happen next.
The offers to work that month started coming in: great opportunities, big clients, huge events. We said no. We said no again. I hesitated. My great summer plan was quickly turning into the most expensive vacation of my life. I started to wonder: Should I do this after all? So much for my great summer plan.
I was ready to back off those 30 days.
One Thursday night, I was home in Minneapolis and went to the gym. While I was working out, I heard the sound of a basketball on the gym floor below. I looked down at the court and saw a group of guys playing their weekly game.
I miss that game.
I was actually in the very same men’s league a year ago. I was home for one game over the course of our twelve-week season. One.
My schedule forced me into retirement from men’s league basketball. I considered what else I might be missing. I had spent six years building a business I used to dream about — rocketing around the country to exciting, interesting events with companies I admire and learn from. Building a dream often comes with some trade-offs. There are tough choices and plenty of sacrifices. It’s certainly been worth it! But I also know this pace might not be sustainable for the long term. I want to run my business — I don’t want it to run me.
So with a clear head, I’m happily taking “the most expensive vacation of my life.”
You don’t have to be a professional speaker or entrepreneur to benefit from a lengthy break. In the new world of work, we’re tracking at a ferocious pace. We’re connected 24-7, and down time only comes in short bursts. I completely relate to this article in Fast Company about the future of work that begins:
“Work is increasingly both everywhere and nowhere—more deeply embedded in our lives than ever before, but disappearing as a discrete activity.”
We are becoming our work, and it’s taking a toll. Taking breaks is extremely important. I love my work, but the always-on pace leaves me feeling drained. As this New York Times article highlights, our new world of work isn’t working:
“The way we’re working isn’t working. Even if you’re lucky enough to have a job, you’re probably not very excited to get to the office in the morning, you don’t feel much appreciated while you’re there, you find it difficult to get your most important work accomplished, amid all the distractions, and you don’t believe that what you’re doing makes much of a difference anyway. By the time you get home, you’re pretty much running on empty, and yet still answering emails until you fall asleep. Demand for our time is increasingly exceeding our capacity — draining us of the energy we need to bring our skill and talent fully to life.”
I have spent the last six years building my dream business. I’m investing 30 days this summer to design what I want the next six years to look like. I know that if I’m not intentional about what I create, nothing will change or I’ll leave the future completely to chance. Maybe you can’t take 30 days. Maybe you could and should? Either way, it’s probably worth a moment of pause this summer to check in and consider: Are you working toward the destination of your dreams?