For many professionals, the challenge of work/life balance is a constant struggle. In today’s digital age, it has become increasingly difficult to turn ourselves “off” or to be completely unavailable during vacations or holidays (for those of us who even try take these days off!). On average, US employees fail to use nearly five vacation days per year according to an article in Fortune. While difficult, it’s important to take the much-needed time away from the office, laptop and, most importantly, iPhone, in order to hit the reset button, both professionally and personally.
Over my years as an entrepreneur, I have come to realize that working on our business can easily cross the line from passion to obsession, especially in this world where we are always connected. It’s far too easy to work for months on end without a day off that doesn’t include email or phone calls. Beyond impacting my overall health, mental or physical, this type of compulsion tends to limit the time I spend with my family and friends. Holidays and vacations are perfect opportunity to slow down and spend time with those I might have neglected; especially those loved ones who often have to sacrifice time with me as I have pursued my goals of building a great company. For me, it’s always been critical to pause and reflect that no amount of success in business can ever replace the lost opportunity to be the best husband, father, son, or friend I can be. As the saying goes, no one on his deathbed ever regrets not spending more time at the office.
Beyond the opportunity to slow down and reconnect with family and friends, taking time away from the pressures of the business allows me a much-needed chance to catch my breath and focus on one of the most important disciplines in the leadership of a company: reflection. Whether you are an executive, a leader, or key player in your company, there are often so many demands on your time that it is challenging to stop and think about not just the day-to-day issues of executing the plan, but to spend time reflecting on how your business is progressing and what needs to be adjusted. Taking time off allows me to reflect and focus on what I call The Four Cs:
- Create: Is there anything that I should start doing that will create additional value?
- Change: Is there anything I am doing that I need to do differently or better?
- Continue: Which things are working well that I should simply continue?
- Crush: Which things are simply not working that I need to stop?
By asking myself and considering these questions, I find that I’m able to think differently about my personal life and my business. When I allow myself time to reflect on these Four Cs, it helps me approach various challenges with a fresh perspective. As I go through this exercise, I sometimes determine it’s important to re-balance other dimensions of my life, including my health, my spiritual growth, or my hobbies. With regard to our company, I am reminded that this type of clarity is what helped us define our market opportunity in the first place. And, taking time to wrestle with these things anew helps me ensure we are all aligned around our strategic plans.
Another benefit of taking time away for myself is that it provides me the opportunity to lead by example. I believe that as a leader, it is a key part of my role to set the tone for the company. An important component of a company culture that works for the long-term is a real commitment to work-life balance for both my team and me. By making sure I am taking time away from the office for reflection and to spend time with friends and family, our employees will be able to feel more comfortable taking the time they need as well. In my experience, this clearly leads to a happier – and more productive – work environment.