Hump Day: Taking a vacation is a tough task for entrepreneurs

Hump DayHump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial section

I was never great at taking vacations in the first place, but it’s become much worse since I became a full-time entrepreneur in July 2010.

Previous to that, I would take a couple of weeks at Christmas or a week here and there. Perhaps even a long weekend. For the most part, I would stay home and relax, which was just fine with me. Spending thousands of dollars on travelling and coming back from a vacation completely exhausted never made much sense to me.

But last weekend, I just needed a break. I had stuff to do, of course. I could have done some business planning or got ahead on some column writing. And there’s always getting caught up on paperwork. If you own your business, there’s always a ton of paperwork, receipts to organize for the bookkeeper, banking, filing, invoicing and paying bills.

But like I said, I needed a break, so I decided to just not do anything.

In fact, I explored my cable television supplier’s online offerings of free on-demand movies and actually watched a movie. It was mindless drivel, Scary Movie 3, and I loved every minute of it. I laughed and I enjoyed the stupid puns.

I don’t spend all my time work­ing, but it seems that my mind is always on work. I should be planning. I should be organizing meetings. I should be reading personal development books. I should be this. I should be that.

Actually, what I should be doing is just taking some time for myself and relaxing for longer periods than an hour. As a fairly new entrepreneur, though, I know I’m not alone. It’s very difficult to take time off because when you stop working unless you have some passive income and are making money while you sleep you stop making money.

And when you’re an entrepreneur, especially a consultant, you often don’t know when the next contract is going to fall in your lap either by your hard work or by sheer luck. Sometimes it’s one or the other and sometimes it’s a combination of both.

I know vacations are important, though. I know my fair share of business owners and I’ve seen them struggling with vacations. What will happen with their clients? What happens if they’re asked to submit a bid on a huge proposal that would make their year and they’re not around to do it? What happens if a client falls into crisis? If they use another consultant because you weren’t around, did your vacation end up doing more harm than good?

I already know what the answer to all this is. Plan for your vacation and take it no matter what. Vacations are a time for renewal and rejuvenation. They’re a time to disconnect and relax. Have some fun or just do nothing at all.

I’ve always had an aversion to coming back from a vacation exhausted (been there, done that), so I think I may associate vacations with actually becoming more tired. The idea of a vacation to me is not to hike up some uncharted mountain for two weeks while having to kill and eat local wildlife for sustenance. My idea of a vacation is to lounge about and relax. Read. Watch movies. Watch the ocean. Ahhhh.

Now that, I can handle. Perhaps I should ease myself into this, though. I can’t take two weeks off in a row. Just the thought of it gives me hives. I’m itchy already! But maybe a weekend here or a weekend there. Even an overnighter to start.

Oh I don’t know. I just hate spending money on vacations. They seem like such a waste of time. I prefer the idea of a ‘staycation’ where I can stick around these parts. But then there’s the allure of the computer, including e-mail, Facebook and Twitter. I will literally die if can’t get on to Facebook for more than 24 hours. No, seriously, my heart will stop beating and I’ll die. I’m getting palpitations already. Anyone know where I can buy a home defibrillator?

I know it’s unhealthy not to take a vacation. It’s pretty much impossible to find any concrete evidence that vacations are bad for you, because they’re not. Truth be told, the last vacation I remember taking where I actually pretty much just relaxed was over Christmas in 2009. Yup, that’s not good, is it? I could lie to you and tell you I’m planning on taking vacation this year but that would not be true. It’s a nice idea, mind you, but I’m not there yet where I can just pick up and go. I’d be so stressed out worrying about business that I wouldn’t enjoy myself very much.

I know I’m not the only entrepreneur having a hard time with vacations now that there’s no employer around to pay for them. I just searched online for the subject of entrepreneurs not taking vacations and a bunch of articles showed up in the results, including: ‘Entrepreneur rookies need time off for mental vacations,’ ’10 reasons entrepreneurs should take more vacations’ and ‘How to take a vacation you think you can’t afford.’ In the end, I’ll end up taking a vacation at some point. I won’t have a choice. A person can’t be ‘on’ all the time. Eventually, you run out of gas and you’re not good to anyone.

There’s an oceanfront out there ready to be stared at. I just know there is.

2 Responses to Hump Day: Taking a vacation is a tough task for entrepreneurs

  1. This is so true, it hurts!
    Georges wants to take 2 weeks off this summer and go down home (guess y’all impressed him ;-), but that’s just not going to be possible.

    Ah, the joys of solopreneurship.
    Good to know I’m not alone.

    Scream 3, really?

  2. Glad to hear I’m not alone, too! Actually, it wasn’t Scream 3 — but another chef d’oeuvre of modern cinema: Scary Movie 3. :P