Company Culture · Wisdom

How do you manage the guilty feeling you get when you go on vacation?

Shaker Rawan Chief Problem Solver & Strategist

February 7th, 2016

Am always struggling to keep myself from feeling like I need to constantly work on my companies or projects. I like the opportunity vacations provide to recharge and learn new things but sometimes feel guilty that perhaps I am not sacrificing enough or doing enough to keep my ventures growing. I feel this may be the only forum this sentiment can be understood. :)
A-level teams with B-level ideas succeed. B-level teams with A-level ideas fail. This course provides a comprehensive roadmap for building a standout team, teaching everything from hiring to structure, compensation, and culture.

Phillip Cohen President, Cohen Architectural Woodworking

February 7th, 2016

I'm writing while in the middle of a two week vacation in southern Mexico. I used to struggle with that, but here's how I see it:
I have daily disciplines, such as quiet time, reading, journaling, and exercise that keep me charged. When I get to a place where my batteries won't hold a charge, it's time for a prolonged time off. 
If I've given myself honestly to my business, I have no reason to feel guilty. Guilt is draining. I can't recharge while guilt is draining me. If I'm drained, I can't give my best to my business. 
I had a close business owner friend who let himself get so drained it ended in his suicide. Drained people make bad decisions and destroy their health, sanity, and family. They set a bad model for their employees.
I usually need two weeks for vacation. It takes the first week for all my fears, stresses, and guilt to wind down. I just let them play out. 
Most of my best inspiration for my business and life happens when I take time off and get away. It also gives my employees opportunities to step up, which gradually makes the team stronger. 
I don't know if you're a Christian. If so, the Bible tells us to enjoy our sabbaths. 
I could write more, but I'm sure others have some great insights too. 


David Still Founder of Start-ups, Entrepreneur, Financier and Advisor

February 8th, 2016

I lost my wife of 30 years and family to a start-up. I did not spend enough time with them. Creating a startup is like running a business but ten (10) times more difficult and stressful. Existing businesses have history and resources in every aspect of their business. Startups do not. Founders do not experience their business, personal and spiritual lives as separate worlds - their worlds become enduringly holistically intertwined, and the coalescing is inexorable and has no clear end point. Founders are continually being asked to know more, do more, be more, and be mentally and emotionally prepared in all aspects of their holistic life. Take a vacation and more. Or you will lose what is important to you after it is too late to not.

Zohar Hirshfeld Sr. Director Business Operations, Product Globalization and Chief of Staff for Central Engineering

February 7th, 2016

You should change your point of view on guilty... if you don't take vacation, over time you become less productive and less innovative. You should always take your mind off of work in order to allow yourself to later view your work with a fresh breath. Many times when you get back to work you come up with new ideas how to be more efficient or how to accomplish better things. Taking vacation is not only good for you, but good for your employer. 

Jim Bowes Promoting and producing sustainable natural-media techniques

February 8th, 2016

We all like to work hard and if you are passionate about your company you will find yourself working 24/7. This is a trap. Be careful. I know because I didn't take a vacation for 10 years and worked with pleasure basically 7 days a week 12 - 14 hours per day.
It hurt me, my family and the business.
Here's my take on entrepreneurship. It is a drug and like any drug, you can get addicted to it. You need to be careful and protect yourself from this addiction. It starts with getting so excited you don't sleep much and don't want to either. You will stop seeing your friends and if you have family they will rarely see you. You will get your first investment from family friends and fools. Much like a real junkie you may over state your claims, barrow more than you need and use this money to feed your habit. You will work like a dog, you won't eat well, you won't go to the gym or exercise, your health will take a turn for the worse. If you do not keep yourself aware of this, before you know it you will be a junkie with the same pitfalls as any substance abusing junkie.
It is critical that you take care of yourself. I know it is hard to do because you get high from your new venture or your company. You are young now but you will not always be. Pretty soon you will lift your head up 10 years later, see that you are overweight, out of shape, your relationships which you have not worked on are in bad shape. If you are not succeeding, the money you had your friends, family and fools invest will weigh heavily on your shoulders and if you push it too far your body at some time will MAKE you slow down usually right at the time you need the most energy.
You should not feel guilty for taking care of your body and mind. In fact,  a vacation should be mandatory as well as a cap on the hours per day and days per week. It is very hard to see this when you are in the middle of it.
My business failed and to be honest, though it broke my heart and cast me into deep despair for a while, the fact is that its failing may have saved my life. You just can not keep up the pace you will want to keep. 
Success means that you actually can have a nice lifestyle. It's not all about the money! Take the vacation and see it as part of your job to take care of the most important tool you have - yourself! Without you there is no company.

Mamie Stewart Founder & CEO at Meeteor, Speaker, Change-maker

February 8th, 2016

There is some great advice above about reframing vacation from 'time that could have been spend building' to 'time that is necessary for recharging'. A few things I want to add on the practical side...

1. I think its totally natural to feel guilty even when 'logic' says you shouldn't. I often have moments of guilt when I think I should be with my kids instead of working or vice versa. This is just part of being human and wanting to do more than is humanly possible with our time and energy. So for me, part one is to own your feelings and recognize them for what they are - your feelings.

2. What helps me is to create systems or (for lake of a better term) rules that I am comfortable with and that I can rely on to help me make choices and not feel guilty. I was recently on vacation for 5 days an I spent 2 hours every morning working and took the rest of the day off. I checked email once more before dinner but only to address anything urgent - not to 'do' any work. For me, this created boundaries by which I was then able to relax knowing that my inbox wasn't piling up and I wasn't missing any important messages from my team or customers and I could keep my few projects that I'm excited to work on in motion.

3. I also make a list of all the things I wish I had time to do but dont and use vacation to do some of those. It feels good to check things off my to-do list at work and I get the same satisfaction of checking things off my 'life's' to-do list. So while on vacation, I read novels (not business books), make a digital photo album of the prior years pictures, send emails to friends who I've been meaning to get in touch with. The feelings of accomplishment from those personal activities help me feel productive while also having fun and taking a mental break from my work. 


KAREN EGAN CFO / CoFounder GETFUNDED

February 7th, 2016

There's a mom saying that "if mama ain't happy, nobody is" and I think that also applies to business owners.  The same rule applies with the airlines; in an emergency parents must put their oxygen masks on first before they can help their kids.  Business owners live, eat and breathe their companies every day and they too need oxygen before they can help their team.

David Albert Founder & Principal at GreyGoo

February 7th, 2016

Shaker, you're not alone. If it makes you feel any better, I was coding while glancing up at the Super Bowl tonight.

Despite tonight's Monday deadline, I've been an entrepreneur for the last 20 years and I've consistently found when I allowed myself to bring balance in my life, allowed myself to disengage during that vacation, to live "in the moment" when spending time with family and friends, I not only prospered but was happy as well. I look at business as a series of sprints--run hard, slow down, take a break. Run hard again. If you run hard constantly you're not going to be effective for anyone, most of all yourself. Hustle, hustle, hustle, but also realize when you're just not being effective and acknowledge you need a well-deserved break.

Judy Parrish Professor Emerita at University of Idaho

February 8th, 2016

No one ever had this on their gravestone:  "I wish I'd spent more time working."  Sometimes we need to step back and see the big picture of our lives.  Work is just a part (says the woman who works, on average, a couple of hours/day despite being retired).  

To some extent, it depends on the level of work, for lack of a better word.  Before I retired, I never stopped working, in one sense of the word, in that the problems I was working on as a scientist were never far from my mind.  I really would get some of my best inspirations in the shower or driving or during any of the other myriad day-to-day activities.  But that was the fun part and never felt like work.  I suspect the same is true for some of the folks here.  But if I ever went away with my husband (no kids), I could at least forget about the office stuff.

David Still Founder of Start-ups, Entrepreneur, Financier and Advisor

February 7th, 2016

Never feel guilty for taking a vacation and never work on a vacation. A working vacation is an oxymoron.  If you feel guilty for taking a vacation, then you need to seek psychiatric help. Your life is more important than your job. Believe me, I know.

Anonymous

February 7th, 2016

There's a thought that intellectuals don't take vacations, they take sabbaticals where they think about things they are unable to think about in the grind of the day-to-day. I have a a pile of books that would improve my long-term outlook that I am unable to get to in the day to day struggle to see another day. I'd bring one of those along. Vacations in their ordinary sense are for postal workers.