In August 2015 I set on a vacation of shorts that ended up lasting 14 months. How you ask was I able to be on a vacation for 14 months?!? Well it wasn’t your standard vacation, in fact at times I even called it running away for awhile. I had owned and operated an IT Management company full time for the last 3 and a half years, February 2012 through July 2015, after spending two years building it up as a side business. At times running my own business was grand, other times it was the most terrifying thing I have ever done.
Usually when someone takes a vacation they go through stages:
- On edge as they depart — Did everything at work get done before I left for a week off?
- Force yourself to take mind off of things — I’m on vacation, stop checking email!
- Start to relax — You get checked into your hotel and you start to focus on the fun you’ll have now that you’re at your vacation destination
- Totally check out — You start enjoying your vacation activities, or lack there of and completely forget you’re even employed!
- Get a little sad thinking of going back — You get close to the end of your vacation and that little thought creeps into your mind, “Vacation is almost over, you have to go back into work in a couple of days”.
- Catchup and regret — You get back to work and suddenly feel some regret of ever going on vacation because of all the work you have to catchup on since you were out a week.
I believe that’s it very important for people to get away ever once in awhile from the work they do and recharge, even if it’s just staying home for a few days and not doing anything work related (take off Thursday and Friday to enjoy a four day weekend!). Burnout is a very real risk for EVERYONE, and you have to take care of yourself and your mental health.
For myself August 2015 was the start of my much needed vacation to get away from burnout, resentment, and out of control anxiety. I had spent the year leading up to this point starting an MBA program to learn to run my business better, but little did I know it’d lead to me realizing it was time for me to do something else. As I went through classes I’d take what I was learning and apply all the equations and formulas to my business. By all accounts we rocked at collecting quickly from clients, we just needed a bigger base of clients to make everything work. We had made the decision to bring on extra employees early in the process to build the foundation of the business and then grow on top of the solid rock foundation we had built, we just had to get more clients. In the end it’s still frustrating to look back and internally fight with myself on if I did enough at times, did I make too many excuses, and should we have pivoted to continue our growth.
I was always afraid to take vacations while I had my business, what if someone needed me while I was away? What if a big spike in client issues happened while I was gone? In the end I was so afraid to make any mistakes in my business that I achieved total burnout and felt the need to move away from the city we did business in to get my mind right.
I couldn’t stand the thought of having to face my clients after the sale, feeling that I was a failure, that they wouldn’t understand why I had to sell my baby, why I wasn’t there to help them with their business needs. I didn’t want to face any triggers from my business past and relive flashbacks to the past feelings I had. So I did what I had earned, I took a 14 month vacation from owning a business. I sold my business, moved an hour south, and started a new job, all within a couple of weeks.
Here is a summary of the vacation steps I felt during my vacation:
- On edge as they depart — I let down all my employees (even though they all got raises with the company who bought ours), my clients will hate me (they were worried about me), and I’m a failure (no I wasn’t, I made the right decision for myself and my family).
- Force yourself to take mind off of things — Luckily I lost all my business email access after the sale. I got a few personal emails and phone calls from clients which was nice, but some of the impatient clients who always tried to call my cell phone instead of the business line kept calling me for help months after the sale! I changed my cell phone number to stop that so I wouldn’t have to listen to voicemails from old clients who can’t call a business phone number instead of wanting to talk to the owner all the time.
- Start to relax — About a month after selling the business and being settled into a new city and job I was able to start sitting back, had much less todo everyday, and started enjoying the calmness of life.
- Totally check out — About two months into my “vacation” I felt like I had never owned a business. Life was great and I was glad to just be away from all that past stuff.
- Get a little sad thinking of going back — I have been getting sad every couple of weeks for about the past two months, missing certain aspects of the business that was fun. This causes me to want to create another business, which reminds me of the heartburn I experienced at times running one.
- Catchup and regret — I have a lot of catching up to do, as I’ve been out of the game for about 14 months now. I am getting my mind back in entrepreneur shape (which is what makes me happy), working on a business plan, getting over anxiety of the unknowns, and starting to tune out the negative vibes/forces in my life that only drag me down.
It took most of the 14 months I had away, but I’ve realized that I shouldn’t call what I did running away. I experienced major burnout and needed a fresh start. A fresh start financially, career wise, and mentally. I’m happy to say we’ve moved back to the city where my family was from and have started to reengage in the community, without any anxiety or flashbacks to the bad times when I owned a business. It’s been a humbling journey, and it was worth it, but I must say I never want to take another 14 month vacation again!