How To Take Time Out To Recharge Without Feeling Guilty.
As business consultants, we work pretty hard, right? I know that I do. My commitment to my profession is not measured by the amount of time I spend in client-facing engagements. I also take into account the prep time I put in before meeting clients; the post meeting reflection and documenting time; the time spent learning new skills and attending training sessions; the time spent on marketing what I do to potential new clients; the writing of my weekly blogs; the creation of 10 or more educational videos every month.
And this is all before I take account of the time I spend attending networking sessions, reading and assimilating business books, administering my business, or just speaking on the telephone. I am sure this is not much different for most business consultants. I have no complaints about working hard because I enjoy what I do.
The biggest rewards are not necessarily financial ones. I particularly enjoy the fact that I am my own boss and I alone am responsible for my time. There is a sneaky pleasure in taking time off work during the working week, and I find it way more invigorating to do this than to take time out at weekends when everybody else is doing exactly the same thing. I call this special time “Recharging the Batteries”.
Take yesterday for example. I live in Ireland where sunny summer days don’t happen with any regularity. Yesterday, I woke up to a beautiful summer day with temperatures in the mid-20’s Celsius or mid-70’s Fahrenheit. I worked on pressing commitments until lunchtime, then shut down the office, and stole away to the mountains with my wife to take time out to enjoy the sunshine and the fresh air. We walked for about 6 hours, took timeout for a picnic, and arrived home completely rejuvenated at around 10:00pm. And it was still bright outside when we got home.
If I was to wait for the weekend to chill out, I might just be waiting for the rain to arrive. I believe in Carpe Diem – seize the day. One of the great pleasures of walking in the mountains in Ireland mid-week is that there are never many people doing exactly what you are doing – stealing away. In six hours of walking and enjoying the natural beauty, we did not meet even one other person. We saw some wild deer and other animals but no people.
This is not to say that we dislike people, quite the contrary in fact. It is really down to the peace and solitude you get when you truly feel that you are alone in the wilderness. Listening to flowing rivers; watching the water cascading from waterfalls; feeling the warm breeze on your face; smelling the pine trees and the sweet scent of gorse. It is just so far removed from the usual day-to-day activities that it cannot fail to lift one’s spirit.
Many of us get so caught up in the rhythms of our daily lives and in the pursuit of our careers that we can forget what is really important. We need to calm our spirits. We need to work to live and not to live to work. I know that when I worked in Corporate America, that I had so little vacation time that it was taken as a series of long weekends throughout the year. How nuts is that? Now, I work when I want to work and I am not caught up in the financial implications of having a simpler more balanced life. Okay, so I have less money but money is not the driver of my life.
To be honest, I have always enjoyed the mountains but it is only in recent years that I have woken up to the benefits of unscheduled time out. At first, I felt guilty because of all the stuff I left back in the office and I didn’t think I deserved to be out enjoying the sunshine and solitude when few other people could do it. Now, with our kids reared and a different perspective on what is important in life, I not only don’t feel guilty anymore but part of the enjoyment in recharging the batteries mid-week is knowing that so many other people are missing on out on these simple pleasures.
My advice to self-employed people, and business consultants in particular, give yourself the time and space you need to lift your spirit. Remember what is important in your life and pursue the activities that give you pleasure, and don’t wait until you retire to start living. My thing may be walking in the mountains and yours may be sailing or walking on a beach. It does not matter which activity you choose, just so long as you find it uplifting and guilt free. The office will still be there tomorrow.