I just got back from an 8-day sabbatical, stepping away from day-to-day business to do some planning and tune in to my creativity.
I often go to see my sister, her family and our parents in the Charlotte NC area right after school starts up again in January. It gets me through some of the dullest days of winter in Minneapolis and provides a good shot of Vitamin F (family) as the year begins. There’s no doubt: It’s very generous of my husband and boys to give me the space to do this, as it requires a fair bit of shuffling at home. This hasn’t always been a possibility for me, and I’m very grateful.
Typically I spend my time away vascillating between trying to keep up with client work–as if I wasn’t even out of town–and squeezing in family visiting time around it.
This year was different.
First, because I voiced a specific intention for the first two weeks of January: To set aside client work and focus on all of the creative ideas and business planning I don’t get to explore on a regular basis.
Second, because I called it a sabbatical.
Third, because I communicated my planned lack of availability to clients and I told the family members I’d be visiting that I would need a block of 3-4 hours for working each day while in Charlotte. The other 14 hours of awake time would be spent hanging out, going places and catching up.
And finally, because I actually proceeded as planned and (mostly) stayed with it. I identified a theme for each weekday, and articulated a few goals for each:
Tax documents and financials for 2013, setting up appointments with our financial planner and our tax accountant for late January, tracking client projects and cash flow projections for the first quarter of 2014, starting to evaluate expenses and package pricing for 2014. Resource of the day: “How to be a Finance Rock Star” by Nicole Fende.
The Honeygirl Customer Attraction Method coursework by Helen Hunter Mackenzie that I hadn’t dug into in the fall when the e-course was going on, Writing an e-newsletter implementing some of her copywriting recommendations, designing several FB ads for Let’s Get Social! classes, and sponsoring one of my business page posts to see what might happen in terms of new likes.
I reviewed the content from Amanda Genther‘s PowerPlay e-course–re-read the entire thing–and made a list of notes for follow up from that content, set procedural intentions for 2014, and contacted a potential assistant/ project manager to schedule an interview. Go, me!
I articulated a new flow for my work + home schedules, inspired by some examples offered by Amanda Genther and Danielle LaPorte. I will provide more details on that in a future blog post.
And then I rotated through them again, with a half day spent on each the second time around.
Here’s why this whole sabbatical thing worked:
- I left my own home turf and didn’t have to tend to laundry, household chores or cooking for nearly the entire time.
- I guarded my boundaries and I kept my focus in writing, right in front of me, the whole time.
- I adjusted my expectations when I saw that I wasn’t going to get everything finished that I had planned, i.e. that I wasn’t going to read every book I brought with me.
- My family was very supportive and flexible in helping me to preserve my work time.
Result: I’m committed to doing something like this again in the spring. Yes…at least twice a year.
And now that I’ve shared why this experiment went so well, I know you want to know how it changed me and the way I’ll do business this year.
9 WAYS MY 8-DAY SABBATICAL WILL TRANSFORM THE WAY I DO BUSINESS IN 2014
1. I came up with a fresh new vision for a schedule & rhythm for my work week overall and for each day individually. As an entrepreneur who loves her work, I have a hard time transitioning from work to personal life to work to…well you know how challenging it can be. I’ve made some new commitments to my family for 2014 and I’m going to carve out my days and priorities differently so that I’m more efficient with the dedicated office time I do have. And I am working on having fresh eyes about what level of responsiveness to my clients is necessary versus what I do that is verging on the obsessive.
2. I found a super awesome + then some wall calendar to help me plan and visualize my 2014 big picture. It’s big and pretty and has a dry erase surface to accommodate my ever-changing project list and features a continuous flow from month-to-month for a seamless view of the year. Check it out. If you like it, you can SAVE 10% if you use this link to order: http://neuyearnet.refr.cc/X8V2DP6
3. After years in search of a project management platform I could implement successfully and maintain effortlessly, I tried and LOVED Basecamp. I’m SO excited to incorporate this into my record-keeping and day-to-day operations. Take a look for yourself!
4. Below is the bag I’ve been looking for. A gift from my sister-in-law Kate for Christmas, who knew that I was a fan of Stella & Dot. Not only does this fab bag look great and fit my immensely huge MacPro laptop, it also snaps down into a lightweight, super cute handbag. It was the perfect companion for my trip.
5. Honeygirl Supreme–Helen Hunter McKenzie–taught me something that I can use to help my clients every day: The true purpose of a business is to create a customer so that transformation can take place. This means that if you are in business, you are at your core a marketer. No matter what your particular specialty is, you are in business to create customers so that you can transform your clients’ lives.
In other words, the work you do to communicate what your business has to offer IS your work. Resenting the time you spend learning to attract and preparing to serve customers is at cross purposes to what you are trying to achieve. The process of effective marketing is integral to your product and/or service. It’s not something to get out of the way so that you can move on to your “real” work. A subtle yet powerful truth, Danielle LaPorte echoed the same this morning in her Daily Truth Bomb: “Love the necessary hard work.” Mind shift taking place…
6. I am going to work with fewer clients overall. I will also work with each client in a more comprehensive and focused way. This means that I’ll be raising my prices so that I can fulfill my deepest desires to serve my clients’ needs. I’ll be providing even more full-service, start to finish, relentlessly attentive support to my ideal clients on their uniquely beautiful journeys.
7. I feel empowered and confident in a completely fresh way. I made brand new progress as a business owner, which is motivating me to continue building on the momentum I’ve created. I’ve been in business for myself 10 years this month, and it’s profoundly exciting that there is still so much to discover. I see now that this reality doesn’t have to be overwhelming, if I prioritize my vision and focus completely on the gifts I deeply desire to offer the world.
8. Which brings me to Danielle LaPorte’s The Stop Doing List, which gave me the opportunity to identify that I am ready to let go of Love Usborne Books. This pocket change-generating hobby has really only been a holiday season distraction for my personal enjoyment–not a way to make significant income–however, keeping up the various fees for my website and occasionally sharing products and gift ideas on Facebook is no longer a good use of my time, money and limited mental real estate. I’m letting it go, and I’ll be adding more to the Stop Doing List during the next month. Freedom!
9. At her invitation, I had fun styling my sister and helping her purge her closet of everything that didn’t flatter her talk-drink-of-water figure. This stretched and energized me creatively. Along the way, I spent some time on Pinterest, where I stumbled upon the image at left: “I just want to drink coffee, create stuff, and sleep.” Immediately feeling validated, I rejoiced that apparently there are people out there who think and feel as I do. Enough people to buy mugs, t-shirts and plaques with this particular quote on it. Amazing. I let go of just a smidge more of my propensity for self-judgment. Yep…I’m ok.
I’ll be sharing more detail in upcoming posts, so you should definitely subscribe to this blog so that you don’t miss out on any of the good stuff coming your way!