This one is for my fellow bosses: I know what it’s like to see someone else’s Instagram stories while they are on vacation and feel like I’m not “succeeding” or keeping up.
So I just wanted to remind you: when the comparison game starts to get super real, remember that you’re only seeing part of the picture. You never know what her life looks like behind the screen.
This year, Tim and I were able to take a vacation to Hawaii (and I’m already dreaming of going back! ????). Social media showed the highlights: a relaxing getaway in our own slice of paradise. BUT here’s what you didn’t see: years of hustle to make that trip happen. This trip wasn’t some spontaneous whim—it was a long time in the making. It was one of my big career goals to be able to give Tim a vacation—completely paid for by my business.
With that goal in mind, I worked like crazy to make it happen! I’m so thankful that it did… and we were able to take a much-needed vacation for just the two of us. I believe in striving for balance (even when it’s not always attainable). I think it’s so important to prioritize goal setting of things that are meaningful to each of us; for me, a Hawaii getaway was a huge dream for a long time!
If you feel like you are burning out and comparing yourself to others, believe me you are not alone, and you CAN create a life you love! Today I want to give a few tips on HOW to take a vacation as small business owner… without losing income or your sanity.
Before The Trip
Planning ahead is the key to making your vacation happen! If you really want to relax during your time off, prior planning is the best way to ensure a smooth trip.
- Set a Goal: Where do you want to go?! What’s your dream vacation? How much would it cost to get there? How long do you think it would take for you to bring in that amount of extra income? Set a goal for yourself, and keep it always-visible on your horizon. You CAN do this!
- Clear Your Calendar: When the trip looks financially feasible, look ahead on your calendar and block off those dates. Do NOT schedule anything, no matter how tempting the opportunity might be!
- Let Clients Know: I like to let clients for any major ongoing projects know in advance that I’ll be out of office. Giving them a heads-up several weeks in advance allows them to handle any business before I leave. You can even put your “Out of Office” dates in your email signature, so clients know to expect your absence.
Okay, I’m about to get controversial here. I know everyone says you should completely put work away while on vacation—and I think there’s a time and place for that. But here’s a different perspective: as a small business owner every deadline and every other tiny piece of business falls on our shoulders; so if I have to work a few hours in paradise to take care of my clients that’s happily what I’ll do! ✌????
If answering a few emails every morning is part of the magic balance that makes this vacation actually happen… by all means, do it! Don’t let yourself miss out on an entire vacation experience because you’ve convinced yourself you can’t do any work (and thus can’t take the time off).
I don’t know about you, but flexibility is a huge part of why I do what I do. If I have the flexibility to work from anywhere… why not work from the beaches of Hawaii?!
If you’re willing to embrace my “work a little so you can live a lot” vacation mindset, here are a few tips:
- Set Work Hours: If you’re going to work on vacation, you have to be careful not to let it overtake your relaxation experience. Give yourself a time cap, and set work hours that won’t interfere with your vacation plans. I liked to knock out tasks for an hour or two in the morning, so I could feel good about relaxing for the rest of the day!
- Put Your Phone Away: Turn off notifications. Put your phone away in your bag. Don’t allow yourself to get distracted by emails popping up (or get sucked into social media). You can do all that during your work hours tomorrow! For now, just be present and soak up this vacation time.
- Set a Vacation Responder: I’m always hesitant to put one up, but it definitely helps alleviate the response urgency. Since I’ll still be popping into my inbox occasionally, I usually use a message like the one below. It bides my time and lets clients know I’ll still take care of them, even if it just takes a bit longer:
Thank you so much for reaching out! I wanted to send you a quick note to let you know that I am currently out of town through Thursday July 12! I will reply to your message as soon as possible, and do my very best to respond to all emails within 48 business hours. I look forward to connecting with you!
Thank you again for your patience, and have a wonderful day!
- Set Expectations: Don’t scramble to get big projects done on vacation; instead, use email to bide your time and set delivery expectations with clients. I always feel pressure to deliver right away, but it’s not worth the stress on vacation! And your client will probably be just as happy receiving their beautiful gallery in a few days. Remember, you can respond to a client like this: “Thank you so much for your message! You can expect your (gallery / design proof / edits) by Wednesday of next week. I can’t wait to deliver them to your inbox! Thanks for your patience.”
- Give Yourself Grace: When you return from vacation, catching up might feel a little overwhelming. Try to give yourself a few days free from any new projects—so you can catch up on anything you missed while out-of-office. Take it one day at a time, and pour plenty of coffee (and mentally re-visit your sandy happy place when things get stressful!). You got this!
I want you to know that you absolutely CAN do this! You deserve time to rest and recharge. Make it a priority to take a vacation sometime soon—even if it’s just a weekend getaway or a one-night staycation. Balance and mental health are the BEST things for your business. Invest in time for your mind and heart to recharge, so you can come home refreshed and renewed—and ready to serve your clients even better than before!
Where will your next getaway be?!