How to take a break from work and not stress

I sent this to my list today while I’m out of the country at a conference in Mexico. I’m probably standing in a pool right now attending a talk when this publishes. Three years ago I wouldn’t have done that, or would’ve been in my room working on my computer instead of present. So I hope this advice helps, and if you want more like it join my email list in the sidebar or at the bottom of this page.


Hey there.

Well, I didn’t send a newsletter this past week because honestly I didn’t have much to say.

If you know me, then you know that’s pretty unlike me.

The reason I didn’t send one is because I have been super “heads down” getting things in place.

You see, when you’re reading this right now I am in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico at a conference/retreat/mastermind with about 30 other entrepreneurs. Yes, really.

I wrote this email Saturday morning while watching mountain biking recaps. Because work/life balance right?

I’m not here to brag (well, a little bit, because Cabo). The reason I’m writing all this is because I believe it is imperative that we all figure out how to have balance in our life and step back from our day-to-day to think bigger about where we want our businesses and careers to go.

I am convinced that too many of us (myself included!) get stuck in our businesses/careers and would be happier if we’d step back and allow ourselves to dream.

It’ll be uncomfortable.

It’ll be scary.

And if you bill your clients hourly, it’ll be expensive.

But the insights you might/will likely gain are invaluable.

“So how do you do it?”, you’re maybe asking.

You can’t do it without planning. So here’s how I do it.

Block off the week on your calendar

First, I block off that week completely on my calendar. If you’re one of these people who doesn’t manage their work and life with their calendar, that stops now. If you want to be able to take a few days to a week away, you must plan it.

Disengage from the day to day completely

Second, manage expectations with your clients and your boss (if you have one, even just yourself). Don’t try to also do your day-to-day while you’re taking a step back, because this will throw you out of your big-picture groove.

View it as an opportunity to learn

Third, treat it as an opportunity to learn the areas in your business that are not automated and keep you in the weeds. Things like invoicing are often the first ones that come to mind, and guess what? Those can be easily outsourced, and you should already be doing that. The way to do this is to write down everything that you are stressed about not happening while you are out of the office, and then prioritize that list right when you return (not while you’re out).

Build in fun and relaxation

Fourth, build in fun and relaxation to your break. I’m always amazed how our creativity comes out and clarity happens when we’re doing something unrelated to business/career/problems. I usually get clarity on a hike or a bike ride, or something away from my phone/computer. One of my favorite times in Cabo last year was hanging out in the pool one afternoon, all afternoon, with a few guys talking about business and life. That made the trip for me.

Write down the “what ifs” and deal with them ahead of time

And finally, if you’re super stressed about going offline (like your site going down or something) then you need to prepare ahead of time for those “what if” moments. Find a technical contact for your site who has access to everything who can get your site back online if it goes down, get content written and scheduled ahead of time (ahem!), and similar.

Final questions I get often

A few questions you may still be asking that I want to answer in advance:

How do you find events like the one in Cabo? Honestly, I was invited by a mentor. But that doesn’t matter. You’ll be amazed by the opportunities that open up when you just go. I was in Barcelona last year for a few weeks, and by connecting with others online was able to meet up multiple times for beers with Spanish SEOs! Be open.

Where do you outsource tasks to? Start by reading The Four Hour Work Week to get your mindset straight about outsourcing. For my most recent VAs, I used OnlineJobs.ph and it’s been great. It’s pretty cool what you can outsource, everything from cold outreach to bookkeeping and the more manual tasks you do daily.

But I can’t take time away from my computer, what if X happens? There are two approaches to this question. First, if it is something within your control that you haven’t accounted for, treat it as a lesson. You may have to check in once or twice, and that’s ok. But before your next break, get this taken care of. Letting go is a process and you won’t get it right the first time. Second, think honestly about if what you’re worrying about is something within your control, and if it’s not then let go. It’s easy to get caught worrying about things that are not in our control, but holding onto those will only take you down a road of anxiety. Let go.

I hope this is helpful if you’re dealing with burnout, unhappiness in your current position, or even just working hard and wanting to take your career/business to the next level!

Until next week,

John

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