On my recent birthday weekend, I decided to go away to beautiful Sedona, Arizona and spend some time in quiet contemplation. As a mother, wife, owner of two businesses, and working on a startup, getting away, even for 2 days, isn’t easy however in order to effectively live into all of the roles I play, it is necessary. Taking time in solitude is the key to entrepreneurial success and although it can be daunting when we have so much to get done the bottom line is this – it’s tough but it is worth it.
Many people start a business in hopes of the elusive notion of time freedom. The reality is that most entrepreneurs are not working a standard 40 hour work week. A survey published in The Alternative Board found the weekly hours per week breakdown to be the following:
19% work 60+ hours per week
30% work 50-59 hours per week
33% work 40-49 hours per week
14% work 30-39 hours per week
5% work less than 30 hours per week
For those working a start-up, I would guess that there are even more hours going into the business. On top of this, when you consider kids, a partner, getting a workout in, and even making sure there are groceries in the fridge, the push and pull of life and business can be a whirlwind leaving little time to even think. Unfortunately, that thinking time is critical to the success of a business; there is absolutely no way to maintain any form of productivity if the decision maker a.k.a. you, is always running around attempting to get things done and losing clarity of the vision, plan, and purpose of the business.
The key to entrepreneurial success is carving out the time to unplug every 90 days in order to take stock of what is working, what is not working, recharge, gain fresh ideas, and continue to innovate. When we fail to do this the business stagnates, we can become bitter, it can affect our mood, and even our health. No, it isn’t easy to get away however in the rapid paced world of business, it is necessary.
I have a friend, we will call John. John has two retail locations and is expanding his business. He hasn’t been away in years and it is not only showing on his face, it is showing on his growing waistline. John owns a health related business and he is anything but healthy. When I asked him when he was going to carve out a couple of days to get away, he replied that he wasn’t sure. From this place of ill health and exhaustion, I doubt that John is making the best decisions possible for his growing empire and may end up so ill that he is unable to enjoy everything he has accomplished.
Getting away and taking time to contemplate is essential for anyone who owns a business. This goes beyond corporate retreats and a booze filled trip to Cabo; this is about deep solitude where we can ask ourselves key questions that will spur on our results for the months and years to come.
While I was away, I asked myself:
- What in my life is working?
- What isn’t working?
- What in my business life is working?
- Where in my business am I falling short?
- Am I clear about where I am going?
- Am I on track to achieve my goals?
- How can I improve?
- Where can I become more efficient?
- Where are the growth opportunities?
I also took time to ask some deeper questions:
- Who do I need to truly forgive?
- Where I can I choose to be grateful for this person?
- Where am I self-sabotaging?
- What aspect of my personality needs to be at the forefront to achieve what I want?
As an NLP coach, I used some deep healing techniques on myself which admittedly brought me to tears. The next day, I felt tremendously clear. I was focused, lighter, and energized. After this brief time away to re-focus, new clients are coming into my businesses, I am sleeping more deeply, and my attitude is aligned with my purpose. All of these aforementioned items are critical to the future success of my companies.
The bottom line is this – regardless of what you have going on, create time to unplug, journal, and reflect. Ask yourself the questions that truly matter. Be willing to get real with yourself and observe how your results begin to shift.