January 14th, 2020

“David, I was wondering what is the number of vacations that a successful entrepreneur should take in a YEAR in order to maintain a healthy body, mind, and spirit (i.e., ideal self-care)?”

I recently received this question from a business coaching client, and I wanted to share the answer with my readers.

It’s More Than You Are Taking Now

An article in the Harvard Business Review reported on an international study by the Center for Creative Leadership which shows that professionals, executives, and business owners in the U.S. and 36 other countries now work a whopping 72-hour week. The study says this group only averages about three hours a day for “discretionary” time during workdays for things like exercise, eating, and errands.

So, if the average business owner is working 72 hours a week, chances are their vacation time is minimal to non-existent. Many business owners give themselves a standard week of vacation (similar to what they give their employees) and never give much thought to whether or not they need more based on their position or workload.

This lack of time away leads to a variety of anxiety symptoms and can hinder your ability to think clearly and grow your business.

The Magic Number Is…

So, is a week enough? Not at all. As a business owner, you should take at minimum four weeks of vacation time. With at least a week each quarter to recoup and regroup. This enables you to:

1. Reboot Your Mind. 

Taking a vacation once every three months is an excellent way to reboot and relax. As a business owner, you are always thinking of ways to grow your business and take it to the next level, and that kind of higher-level thinking can begin to wear on you if you don’t take regular breaks. I like to schedule my vacations shortly after my team completes their quarterly action plans. They all have a clear vision of where the business is going for the quarter, which will free my time up for a mental reboot before digging into my own quarter goals.

2. Rest Your Body.

Working 72 hours a week will take its toll on you physically as well. Early mornings and late nights will soon begin to catch up with you and lead to a myriad of health problems down the road. Scheduling time away every quarter will allow you the ability to reset your biological clock (and sleep in!).

3. Plan for the Future and Enjoy the Present. 

Time away from the office is a great time to reflect and appreciate all that you have in your life. Being able to get away with my kids and my wife reminds me of why I work so hard and what our plans are for the future. This is difficult to do in the middle of a 72-hour workweek, when you are putting out office fires all day.

4. Give Your Staff and Business Room to Shine

At least four times a year, let other people on your team own functional areas of responsibility in the business. The best way to show that you trust your team, systems, and culture is to regularly step away from the business for a week stretch or longer. This will help you identify areas that need improvement as well as areas where you have strategic depth.

If you are looking for the ideal balance for self-care, schedule yourself four weeks of vacation a year and watch your business grow.