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The beginning of a business, much like the beginning of a relationship, is…

The beginning of a business, much like the beginning of a relationship, is all about passion. You’re excited to work on every new project, filled with ideas about pleasing customers, and sure that you’re going to create something meaningful.

As your business grows, you realize the full potential of your passion for changing the lives of others and altering the course of your life and the lives of those closest to you.

All of that passion and fulfillment comes at a cost. The time, effort and money you invest in starting and growing a business are necessary sacrifices. But these are resources you must replenish.

As business-minded folks, most of us realize that investing money back into the business is a requirement for growth. But what too many of us neglect to replenish is our time and effort. Yes, you probably have a superior work ethic, and yes, you likely devote countless hours to developing your dream. But your overtime and overwork may actually prevent you from growing.

Signs You Need a Break to Avoid Burnout

For people who started businesses in part to having more time freedom, we are shockingly attached to our work. Many entrepreneurs have trouble drawing boundaries between their personal and professional lives. As a result, we rarely take time off to stop and smell the roses, much less reap the benefits of all our hard work.

This unwillingness to replenish ourselves results in dangerous states of burnout. Tina Forsyth, author of The Entrepreneur’s Trap: How to Stop Working Too Much, Take Back Your Time and Enjoy Life, shares on her blog the four signs of entrepreneurial burnout:

  1. You are perpetually stressed. You are grumpy, frustrated, impatient, annoyed and overwhelmed for weeks on end and it’s not getting any better.
  2. The people around you are noticing that you are stressed. They might not want to mention it to you, so you may need to ask if you want to know what they are noticing.
  3. You aren’t able to get stuff done anymore. You are dropping the ball, missing stuff that you normally wouldn’t miss or simply aren’t performing at the level you want to be.
  4. You are experiencing health issues. You may be having trouble sleeping, or you’re getting sick, getting hurt or having accidents.

If you fall into one of these categories, it’s time to stop the madness and take a break. Your overall productivity will benefit when you come back refreshed.

How Long to Rest and What to Do

Oddly enough, when you tell an entrepreneur to take a break, one of the first questions they ask is, “What should I do while I’m resting?”

The simple answer is “nothing.” But if you really want to replenish yourself and come back refreshed, here are some tips to getting the most out of your time off:

  1. Set a time to take off and mark it on your calendar. Forsyth recommends a date no more than 90 days out. Be realistic about how much time you can take. If you have other responsibilities that require you to be present during the week, such as kids in school and no one else to care for them, then book a weekend. If you can take a full week, do so.
  2. Book a hotel, a flight, or whatever will make the vacation feel official and real. Start telling people about your time off so they will hold you accountable.
  3. Line up only one activity for the entire vacation. Now, for those of you who love an agenda and only feel relaxed when everything is planned out, this will be hard. The compromise is to only plan one activity per day. Either way, the goal is to not overschedule your time off. Leave most of your day and evening for simply thinking, relaxing and wandering.
  4. Set a goal for the vacation. I’ve found that if I come back and I met even one goal, I feel less guilty about the time away from my massive to-do list. Goals I’ve set in the past include: Write one chapter of a book, take pictures with each of my family members, learn more about the culture where we’re staying, and ride the subway by myself! Spending a few minutes each day on these little goals helps the overachiever in me to relax the rest of the time.
  5. And finally, when you return home, schedule your next trip.

Remember that as the business owner, you are the one responsible not just for keeping the business going but for setting the tone with your clients, team members, and partners. So set the example of self-care, and stop to enjoy the fruits of your labor before it’s too late.   By Amy Anderson 

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