Every day, I feel blessed to meet inspiring business owners through my work at RSVP. Each of them started their business with some passion, end goal or dream in mind. Each story shares that uniquely American can-do spirit & independence. I hear things like:
- “I was tired of the corporate rat race.”
- “Why work for someone else when I can work for myself?”
- “I want to create a legacy.”
But their reasons run even deeper than that. At the heart of their decision to strike out on their own is the desire for a sense of control over their lives and futures. They year for independence, yet they find themselves working harder, burning the candle at both ends, no end to the workday, perpetually tethered to the business they created & nurtured. Instead of resting easy they lay awake thinking about hiring new employees or tackling the next big project, answering emails in the wee hours of the morning or at their kid’s soccer practice.
“OK, we do monkey bars until 3:15, then the slide from 3:30-3:40, and that should give us enough time to have juice & crackers before our 4:00 meeting with Mom regarding your most recent finger-painting performance.”
That original laser-focused dream that started it all becomes a little cloudy in the weary mind of that business owner. Now she may be totally in charge of her own destiny now, but she’s somehow a little more out of control. And yet she still has the same spark of passion and energy that inspires her to get up every day and do it all again, living the madness to create her dream for herself. Despite the unique challenges and struggles that come along with being an entrepreneur, most are proud and wouldn’t trade the freedom that comes along with it for the world.
Our conversations often turn to the real reason they’re working so hard: the freedom to do what they want with their downtime. The desire to be able to take a vacation without requesting time off from someone else, relying on another person’s approval. Common escapes include foreign travels, a beach, a lake, camping. Living a life of pleasure & relaxation in a place of peace & serenity. A place to reboot & recharge. I have to smile when I hear that their escapes are often jam-packed with activity, from adventure sports, boating, or other adrenaline-pumping, white-knuckle, edge-of-the-seat activity. It isn’t surprising that the same business owners who pour their passion into creating & sustaining a business during working hours tend to approach their downtime with the same fervor.
For example, this is how I relax.
But it takes time, dedication, and delegation – and delegation seems to be the hardest part! For business owners whose ventures are in their infancy or growing years, these escapes must be postponed. Sometimes it may be for personal reasons – “We’re waiting until the kids are a little older before we buy a cabin on the lake.” – but often it’s for professional reasons. They have to wait until such-and-such employee is able to handle the workload – or even have to wait until their business grows enough to hire employees! Other business owners have grown their company & begun to hand the reins over to capable individuals. These owners are enjoying their time, living in the moment…and looking back, they wish they would’ve done it sooner. They wish they would’ve spent more time with their children and escaped from the daily grind even if that grind is one they created for themselves. If you’re nervous about delegating business responsibilities to others so that you can enjoy the life you’ve created for yourself, let Entrepreneur magazine help you out with their 4-step guide!
In his book The 4-Hour Workweek, author Tim Ferriss recommends to readers to not to work until retirement, but rather to live your retirement a little each week. Build those little escapes into your life so you can enjoy them now, rather than waiting for some undetermined future date – when you hire more people, open another location, add another service. I know it’s hard to believe, but work can wait. What may seems like an urgent problem requiring your attention RIGHT NOW, TODAY may simply work itself out in the hands of capable & trusted employees if only you would make like Elsa & let it go.
And now the song is in your head. No need to thank us.
So as my family & I pack up and head to the lake this Fourth of July season, I’ll be counting my blessings: not just my own personal or professional success, but also our nation’s independence, and our country’s long history of encouraging men & women to make their own way by doing things their own way, freeing us to create the life of our dreams. I like to think that the fantastic fireworks displays with all their awe-inspiring moments of “Ooh!”s and “Ahh!”s are symbolic of these blessings, and a reminder to keep your head up, dream big, be grateful, and be present.
I hope these business owners see it the same way, and that they continue to work to fulfill their dreams, but remember to get away and savor the here & now.
Contributed by Heather Craaybeek.
Image sources: 1, 2 and 3. Frozen copyright Disney 2013.