Some people are able to take a day off from work with ease and grace.
They can chill out at home in their jammies with a cup of tea and a sitcom and allow their mind to relax without guilt, regret, or the “should show.”
Recently, I was faced with what others may see as a delight: a day off. Or rather, a series of days off. After a particularly busy period of work, it seems as if the universe had conspired to force me to unwind and relax.
I caught a springtime cold that left me dragging, my computer crashed and had to be in the shop for a week (sheer torture for an online business owner), the weather was horrific, the house was clean, and my pantry was stocked with food.
I felt lost. What should I do? I couldn’t work… All of my files were on the (broken) computer. I didn’t need to cook, clean, or shop… I was too ill for exercise, and I didn’t want to venture into the veritable monsoon that was taking place outside. I am blessed to be my own boss and my schedule is flexible, so I had every reason to chill out, curl up with a good book, and rest.
Rather, I found myself pacing around the house like a caged animal.
I would read for a few minutes, but then I’d get distracted and check my iPhone for email or Facebook alerts. My mind kept drifting back to work. I found myself browsing the internet on my tiny iPhone screen and bookmarking webinars I “should” take to help grow my business, blog posts I needed to read to catch up on the latest trends in social media marketing, and business podcasts that promised to inspire and inform.
As a solopreneur in the online word, I find it easy to get caught up in a vicious, gripping tailspin of anxiety about not doing “enough.” There’s always one more blog post to write, one more tweet to tweet, one more contact to connect with, one more person to follow (and hope they follow me back).
During this period of forced R&R I spent the majority of my time feeling guilty and fearful. I knew that my mind, body, and spirit truly needed a break, but I couldn’t stop thinking about all of the things that I “should” be doing. The wild concept of stepping back from the constant push of growing my business was terrifying. The feeling of, “I have to keep busy or else I’m going to get behind,” was crowding my heart, tightening my lungs, and making it hard to breathe.
It wasn’t until day three of my unwanted respite that I was able to let go of “day off guilt.” The following process helped me to relax and ease into my time off, and even provided me with some valuable insights into myself and my business as a whole.If you suffer from day off guilt, I hope these simple shifts will help you too.
For many entrepreneurs, simply knowing that you can (and should) take a break isn’t enough. You’ve worked hard to get to where you are, and pushing and striving is ingrained in our collective consciousness as “the way” to get ahead. You may feel guilty and fearful about stepping back, even if only for a day or two. Here’s the thing… It’s natural to feel scared and anxious about taking a break from your passion project. It’s even okay to feel guilty! The key is to stop feeling anxious, scared, and guilty over the fact that you feel anxious, scared, and guilty. Instead, look at the positive side of these personality traits. Say to yourself, “wow! I am such a passionate, driven, and ambitious person and it’s fantastic that I’m excited to get back to work. But since I work so hard, I deserve a rest.” You would tell your best friend the same thing… So be a friend to yourself. Let go of the guilt. Accept that this time off is happening (like it or not), and then move on to step two.
Breathe. As Eckart Tolle states in A New Earth, “being aware of our breathing takes attention away from thinking… One conscious breath (two or three would be even better), taken many times a day, is an excellent way of bringing space into your life.” One of my favorite breathing techniques is core breathing. You can read about it here.3) This one is the most important. If constant pushing and striving has you so jittery and wired that you can’t unwind for one day, then you might need to re-think aspects of your business.
Growing a business that has soul and passion shouldn’t be about constantly struggling and pushing. Yes, you need to give it your all, but if it feels inauthentic or stressful (i.e. keeping up with inordinate social media posts, pins, and tweets) then… In my humble opinion… It’s okay to back off.
Maybe the future of online business lies not in how big we can grow our networks, but how carefully we tend to and care for the networks we already have. If that feels better for you, then SLOW DOWN. It’s okay. It’s often when we stop pushing — and even (gasp!) take a day off — that we see real growth.
Read more from Brianne Grogan on her website, FemFusion Fitness