I’m just coming back to the online world after a full month off. I had a couple of minor but very needed procedures on one of my eyes in early June, and I feel so blessed that I was able to carve out that time needed to fully heal, to rest, to be present with myself, and to integrate some inner explorations that I’ve been working through since late last year.
Taking a swath of time off in this way is not something that comes easily to me. I love the work that I do and I can find it difficult to step away. I know that a part of this is from a true joy in my craft - my whole being lights up playing with design, teaching, and Tarot.
But I also know that some of this is internalized from my past, my family, my lineage, and society.
Both as a self-employed individual and as someone who held multiple jobs, I’ve gone months and months without a full day off.
My family members who have held multiple jobs and worked upwards of 70 hours a week have instilled in me that over-work is something of which to be proud. Many of my ancestors come from an area in Italy known as “Terra di Lavoro,” which translates to “Land of Work.” While the word here “Lavoro” is actually in reference to the name of ancient peoples who once inhabited this land, the energetics of labor is present nevertheless.
Here in the States, there is this essence of wearing a badge of honor for hours worked. In corporations, people take pride in arriving first or leaving last - or perhaps they feel pressured to do so on account of societal expectations. Just yesterday while I was on a walk to get some tea, I overheard two programmers talking about how soul-crushing their strenuous 60-hour work week was, but yet, they felt pressured to participate in that system.
I fully honor that, as a fault of our society, sometimes it is necessary for an individual to work multiple jobs and many hours in order to secure housing and food or to pay to medical bills. It makes me sick to my stomach to think about how health insurance is tied to certain kinds of jobs, and then to think about what happens when one becomes ill and loses that job.
I realize that sometimes, we need to do certain things in order for our own wellbeing or for the wellbeing of our loved ones.
But I notice within myself and within other entrepreneurs a certain addiction to work. We feel that we need to do it all. We feel like it’s expected of us to answer an email straight away, no matter the hour. It’s expected that we will respond to a comment on social media, or we feel obligated to bend our boundaries in order to feel like we are doing good work for our clients.
With this programming, it can be especially difficult to take time off - whether on vacation, as a sabbatical, to go on a spiritual pilgrimage, or to nourish one’s body, mind, or heart. There’s also taking time off on the weekends, holidays, or on planned days to just enjoy life outside of the work that you do. Your work may be your passion (I’m so lucky that mine is!) but a scheduled break is necessary for creative flow and energy.
I knew that one of my pieces of inner exploration during this time off would be to really allow myself to fully lean into a feeling of surrender.To trust that my clients would be okay, that my systems would run smoothly, and that people wouldn’t forget about my upcoming offerings. To know that my business manager would be there if anything came up. I may have been forced into that a bit with the fact that I couldn’t see very well and reading small print was difficult - but this space was so crucial for my own healing.
During this time off, I was also able to be more present for my fur-child when he wasn’t feeling well, and to have more connection time with my husband. When his family came to visit, even with my eyes healing, I was able to spend more time with them than in past years.
At first, I felt guilty for taking this time off. I know this space for healing isn’t something that everyone has access too. I feel very fortunate and grateful that it worked out in this way. I witness that this is a privilege.
I also believe that everyone has a right to boundaries and rest within their work day. I wish that was accessible to everyone.
If you are an entrepreneur thinking of taking some time off ...
...maybe a scheduled Friday Fun Day for yourself (I try to take at least half a day off from doing client work on Fridays, usually a full day)
...a weekend of not checking your email
...a week of being off the grid
...or a full month of luscious self care and play
I've got some ways to support everything in falling into place so that you can really rest + restore and be present for your time-off adventures or healing.
1. SET UP AN AUTO-RESPONDER.
This is something that I feel both sets my mind at ease and sets energetic boundaries between myself and anyone who may be saying hello in my inbox. In fact, I used to have an auto-responder set up for the weekends in order to let people know that I would be looking forward to replying to their email on Monday, but after a while I felt like I didn't need it any more.
I set up an auto-responder for my month off. It included:
+ a little bit about what was going on
+ when I would be back
+ information about my business manager, who may respond for me (more about this in a minute!)
+ details about what I'd be offering once I was back
If you're wanting help with creating a clear + helpful auto-responder, check out this set of templates from Alexandra Franzen.
2. FIND SUPPORT.
If you're able to...I highly recommend hiring a Virtual Assistant or Online Business Manager, even if just for the time that you have carved out to be away if it's for an extended period in time. In this way, your VA or OBM can respond to any inquiries or important messages in your inbox + social media for you while you're away.
If you don't have a VA at this time, one way to support yourself is to take Alexandra's suggestion above for auto-responders and provide answers to any questions that are general but that you would deem important. For example, I may share details on my upcoming design schedule, or direct people to an intake form to get started in the process for my mentoring work.
3. RESIST THE TEMPTATION TO SNEAK BACK INTO WORK-MODE.
Have you heard of the notion of "work creep"? It's what happens when it's 8pm you are settling in to watch Queer Eye on Netflix and then you notice that your gmail tab shows an unread message. "What exciting news could that be?" you ask yourself, clicking over to that tab. Then before you know it, you're diving into a project that probably could have waited until tomorrow.
If you're able, really give yourself that time off. Whether it's an afternoon or a weekend, a week or a month - know that the space you create for yourself is supporting you in fully showing up when you are scheduled to return.
4. SHARE YOUR PLAN WITH AS MANY OF YOUR CLIENTS AS POSSIBLE.
While the need for unexpected time off can't be helped, if you know that you'll be taking time off, share that with your clients. For example, if you desire to take every Monday off, bring that up in on-boarding conversations and write it into contracts. If you have a week-long vacation coming up, share what you'll be up to with clients who will be working with you during that time frame. For my month off, I tried to let my design retainer clients know as far in advance as possible, and I did some re-scheduling in advance for my 1:1 mentoring clients and my group offerings.
I felt *so* supported by my community when I shared my plans and everyone knew what to expect.
5. BLOCK OUT YOUR CALENDAR AS FAR IN ADVANCE AS POSSIBLE.
Again, sometimes things just come up and you aren't able to block off time in your calendar. But, if you are planning something in advance, blocking off time on your calendar supports you in multiple ways. For examples, for my Fun Fridays, in order to ensure that I dion't have any 1:1 calls or Tarot Readings on that day, I have it blocked off in my calendar as "Busy." But also, when I see that notification coming up on my phone or calendar that it's Fun Friday - my whole energetic system remembers that it's a day for me to play!
SO YOU MIGHT BE WONDERING:: WHAT AM I UP TO, NOW THAT I'M BACK?
During this time off, I haven't been able to see well and I've been *itching* to do some design and coding. I'll be starting off my time back in Drawing Within by doing some personal creative projects with logos and coding, and plan on carving out "play" time blocks within my work week.
I'm also gearing up for the upcoming round of Squarespace Sovereignty, which starts in August! There are just 2 spots available for those who would like full logo design, and 3 spots for those who already have their own logo. If you're interested, click on the link above and we can set up a time to connect on a call to talk more about your website vision!