We’re constantly told to work as hard as we can, as long as we can, in our chosen field, and there’s obviously a lot of merit to that—luck favors the prepared; repetition produces results; working hard will get you ahead of the competition, etc. But there’s also much to be said in taking a step back—and doing something completely different for a bit.
At the beginning of the summer I was given the opportunity to take on a weeklong project that had nothing to do with my business. (I had completely reformatted my business about six months before that, and, not surprisingly, felt the need to work extra hard to get myself established.) Taking time to do something else seemed completely crazy, if not downright detrimental. Who takes a week away when they’re trying to get what’s essentially a new business going?!
Um, I did.
And granted, it’s not always possible. But the timing of this just happened to work out, it was an interesting opportunity, and the idea of a fresh perspective was enticing. I decided to do it.
So I spent a week on a project unrelated to my business (checking in on it via the wonders of email) but not actually doing any programs related to it for a whole week.
The first day away I felt panicked and lost. Why wasn’t I working on my business? Was I crazy? What was I doing? What on earth had I been thinking? Who did this? After a few hours, though, I had started to relax into the new project and put the business as much as I could out of my mind to focus on the task at hand.
As the week went on, I realized that because I’d planned ahead, I could do what I needed to for the business, and nothing would fall apart. And as I started to relax, I began to enjoy the experience of doing something out of the ordinary (for me). I also began using a notebook to jot down ideas so I wouldn’t forget them. Being in a different place with a different focus allowed me to, well, focus differently. I wasn’t spending every second trying to get a million things done for the business, and thus was more open to being creative. In free moments and in the evening, I jotted down tons of ideas, wrote up a lot of “what ifs,” and came back having really enjoyed what I worked on. I was completely ready to get back to my business—with some fresh ideas, to boot.
The week away turned out to be great, on many levels. It showed me that I could do something different–but also that I was also eager to get back. It was a bit of a luxury–but it also turned out to be even more of a necessity. When I looked at some of what I’d been doing, business-wise, with a (relatively) fresh perspective, I came at it it without the frenzied, slightly panicked way I sometimes approached it. I came up with some ideas that I ended up implementing–and that probably wouldn’t have occurred to me without some of the experiences I had while I was away.
I also realized that a break doesn’t have to be a week–it can even be a day (any shorter and we’re not taking a break–we’re talking lunch). It’s good to know you can do other things, and it’s good to let yourself relax and approach things differently. Win win. Both you and your business will be the better for it.