Many business owners wear their lack of vacation time as a badge of honor. Others take time off only to spend half their vacations feeling guilty for being away from their businesses.
Either way, the relationship between entrepreneurs and vacations is often a fraught one.
Take Y Combinator alum and founder of Amicus Seth Bannon, for example. On his blog recently, he confessed to making excuses for a short beach break he was planning to nearly everyone he talked to.
"Every time I talked to anyone about the trip, I included the disclaimer 'it's only my third break since Amicus was founded'. Every time," he writes. "It was only once I was lying on a beach that I realized what I was doing: I was making excuses for taking a break because I felt guilty." But, relaxing in the sun, Bannon had some time to reflect and come up with a new and healthier model for thinking about vacations -- one other guilt-ridden business owners might benefit from.
You're a Long-Distance Athlete
Rather than think of vacations as time away from responsibilities, think of them as an essential for long-term success. Bannon suggests you use professional athletes as your template. They all take an off-season, he reminds entrepreneurs.
"Professional runners take long breaks between marathons. They make no excuses for this, and no one judges them for it, because everyone knows that rest and recuperation is an essential part of being a pro athlete. The same is true for entrepreneurs (and everyone, really). Preventing burnout is part of your job. Staying well rested is part of your job," he insists.
Recharging isn't an indulgence or extra, in other words, it's an essential -- just like customer service, proper leadership and tidy bookkeeping. Stop making excuses. Stop feeling weak.
And Bannon isn't the only member of the start-up scene looking to athletes for inspiration. VC Chris Yeh has also explained how he borrows the principles of cross-training and interval training from fitness pros to prevent burning out despite his jam-packed schedule.
Putting the Principle Into Practice
If you agree with Bannon and Yeh that going full on all the time isn't just unhealthy but also bad business, there is still the less than minor matter of actually banishing the guilt you feel when you switch off. Tips are available to help you rethink vacations as a benefit for your business in other ways as well, including as a laboratory for delegating, a way to examine priorities, and a chance to experiment with remote work tools if you need to connect while away.
Are you guilty of no-vacation chauvinism?