Was your summer as great as you hoped? Were you hoping for more?
My life and business are built around needing a fair amount of time off to be with my three kids over Christmas, spring break and during the summer. As an entrepreneur, taking any amount of time off requires planning.
What does it take to take time off as an entrepreneur
In the summer I take 4-5 weeks off and some summers have been great, but others (especially in the earlier years) have been stressful because I didn't have the right plans in place. It’s one thing to say you’re going to take a few weeks off from your business but in order to take time off successfully you need to plan so that your social media doesn’t drop off, people still know who you are, and so that you still have money coming in during that time or make more money previously so you are covered during your time off.
In the past I had missing systems, which got better as the years went by, but last summer despite the right systems in place, I was stressed out for a whole other reason - I had a hard time stepping away from my work. I also had a hard time being present with my kids. This made me realize that I needed to do a summer post-mortem to see what worked and didn't and that I should share it with everyone else so they could do it too.
Realizing you need to make a change
It turns out, the summer model I thought I wanted is not the model I really want for my life or my business. I am okay with this – it’s okay that I changed my mind. I realized that I do not want 4-5 weeks off in a row during the summer. I realized I would be much happier with smaller blocks of time off.
I realized that the more downtime I have, the more ideas about my business I have; however if I have all this time off to spend with my kids I don’t have the time to actually implement these ideas… and these ideas are forgotten by the time I am back to work because I have other things that need to be done.
By being off for numerous weeks in a row I also miss out on many opportunities. I couldn’t take action on them because I was off and that made me nervous.
Lastly, I love my job. I love my kids, but they are busy and can be very intense, so I need my work as a break from the chaos of kids life. I don’t do well with constantly being surrounded by noise and chaos; my ADHD brain needs quiet (which is why working from home works so well for me). I also find myself resenting the fact that I can’t be working, taking advantage of new opportunities and implementing my new ideas instead of enjoying time with my kids.
I took what I learned last summer and put it into place this summer. I was off and on from work a lot (I think some people thought I took the entire summer off ;) and it was FAR less stressful for me and I was more present when I was working and more present when I was with my kids. WIN WIN!
Knowing you’re not alone
Last summer as I got back to my regular calls with clients I heard from business owner after business owner that they had struggled with summer as well.
Summer, for entrepreneurs, isn’t always as fabulous as we think it is going to be. We make plans for fun activities and time to enjoy the warm weather, and yet it can be disappointing when you reflect back at how the summer actually went.
I want to acknowledge that you are not alone if summer is hard for you – as a parent or as an entrepreneur.
I want to challenge you to think through how your summer went - do a post mortem so you can decide what to keep the same and what to change for next year.
Summer Post Mortem Quiz
Take the following questions and answer them in your favourite notebook or a word document. The reflection and answers will help you figure out what your summer plans should look like NEXT summer.
What was your plan for this summer? Describe in as much detail as possible how you thought it would go. For example, days or weeks off, extra help hired to make that happen, planned content, etc.
- What did your summer actually look like?
- How much did you work, how much did you not work?
- How stressed or not stressed were you?
- What went as expected and what didn't?
- How did it feel compared to what you planned?
- Was there any disconnect between what you wanted it to look like and what it actually did look like? Share where and how things did or didn't line up.
Were your expectations off? Did you make last minute changes? Was it amazing? etc.
- What did you enjoy about your summer? For example, specific activities. Getting to travel. Doing nothing. Binging Netflix. Quality time with your spouse. Taking an hour a day to enjoy the outdoors.
- What did you not enjoy about your summer? For example, not enough time off. Too much time off. Felt too scattered. Seemed too organized. Not enough time outside.
- Did you make enough money?
- Based on all of your answers - What do you want to keep in mind for next summer? Remember that by next summer your memories of this summer will be dimmer, so make some statements here that will help you know what needs to be a priority and what doesn't. For example: I won't book any meetings my first day back. I won't have more than X weeks off at a time. I need to hire someone to help manage ____. I need more time off next year. I would rather take long weekends than full weeks off.
- What needs to happen to make this a reality?
Spend a few minutes seeing what comes out for you. Answering these questions is the first step in making these plans that will help you effectively plan for next summer over the next ten months.
I hope you had a great summer and had a lot of great moments! But if you didn’t – let’s make a plan to make next summer a great one!
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