I'm about to take a month off, and I'm so nervous! I feel sheepish admitting this because I’m a life coach who specializes in helping people take extended breaks of a month or even a year. By now I should know that the fears I’ve been experiencing are normal for someone getting ready to take time off.
This will be my first month-long break since I took a life-changing year off in 2013. Maybe preparing for this break has been especially nerve-wracking because it's my first time as a business owner. (Yikes! Am I really allowed to do this?)
It wasn’t until this last week that I realized I could use some of my own advice as I get ready to turn on my out-of-office and go have some fun. So here goes. Here are my tips for how to face down your fears as you get ready to take time off.
1) Take a good look at your fears
Get to know your fears, without reacting to them – yet. Write them down, if that’s handy. The importance of this step is to acknowledge your fears without letting them control your decision-making. Don’t let them talk you out of time off before you’ve given it a fair chance.
Here are just some of the thoughts whirling through my head the last several months: What will my clients say when I tell them I’m taking a month off? Who do I think I am, taking a month off right when I’m in the start-up year of a new business? Can I afford this? I can’t take all this time off, it’s taking away from my business. I’m going to lose momentum.
You are in good company if your fears are about what people will think of you, what you think of you, whether you can afford it, and/or whether you can handle it.
These fears are not insurmountable. Hang on, and ...
2) Go deep into WHY you want to take time off
Clarify for yourself: Why is this time off so important? What will it give you that you don’t have now? What values are you attempting to honor with this decision to take time off?
Write this down, or even better, say it aloud to someone – a trusted friend, a coach. Say it more than once. Say it with such truth and conviction that it takes courage for you to say it.
Here’s why I want to take a month off… First the backstory: during my year-off break in 2013, I fell in love. I was traveling in Spain and I met the most amazing man. Manel is a Catalan farmer, and I’m a city girl from Oregon, and yet, wow, what a connection! We got engaged last summer, I moved to the farm in Catalunya, and we really wanted to celebrate our marriage with our families and friends from both continents. In the end, to make it happen, we decided to have two weddings: one in Catalunya and one in Oregon. (By the way, two weddings is seriously crazy, I don’t recommend it!!! ;))
So if I were to courageously tell you why taking this month off is so important, here’s why:
- I always told myself that when I got married, no matter what, I wanted to make that commitment in front of my dearest friends and family, and with their support. And I wanted to celebrate it with the party of a lifetime.
- When starting my business, I made a commitment that I would walk my talk and take a month off every year, and take a sabbatical every 7th year. (At a minimum!)
- I only have one wild and precious life. I want to live it to the fullest. For me, taking time off is a direct affirmation of that. It’s a chance for me to just be me, apart from my work – and to return refreshed.
3) Craft your simple story – and start saying it aloud.
Now you’re going to craft a simple story of why you’re taking time off so it speaks directly to #1, your fears, and uses #2, your most important whys, as your source material.
This story is first and foremost for you. You are the only person who really needs convincing of this idea. Then later, you can use this story to speak to everyone else.
I’ve found that the stories that work the best are simple, easy to say, and positive.
Here's the story I wrote for myself as I got ready to talk with my clients about my time off:
A month is a long break and yet I’m making this decision to take it, because this is really about me walking my talk about the importance of taking time off to do the things that are most important in life. I know that taking this time to celebrate my marriage with my friends and family will be the experience of a lifetime.
One last big step
If there is one more step beyond getting clear on your fears, your whys, and crafting your simple story – it’s simply having faith. Trust that when you fully live your deepest values, everything else will fall into place. People will notice what you’re doing and they will respect it. In fact, they will want to support you. You will feel strong. You will feel open and present and experience great joy.
Today I find myself at this leap of faith. Here I go!
In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you. Leave me a note in the comments below. What here has been helpful or resonated with you? What would you add?
Is there anything you are ready to do today to get started on your own adventure of taking time just for you?
As for me, this post was the last thing I wanted to do before I got going. I’ll be back in June! If you want to follow our journey, you can find me on Instagram.