Holidays are good, for an entrepreneur too

A few years ago, I took a day trip with my husband and son to Bheemeshwari which is about an hour off Bangalore’s Kanakapura Road. We did nothing much beyond swaying from the rustic swings and taking the famed coracle ride. Towards late afternoon, relaxing under the shade of a tree with no movement or sound other than the soothing gurgle of river Kaveri flowing nearby, we found our minds relax as well. This was a new experience – a day entirely to ourselves, a welcome break from the phones ringing non-stop, people yelling and the constant rushing to meet deadlines.

Let me explain. I work full time, our son is in primary school and my husband is an entrepreneur. This last fact means he, and by consequence we, are almost always in a state of near emergency. This means we have neither the time nor the inclination to plan for a long dream vacation. But that visit to Bheemeshwari was such a refreshing change that it managed to register as a must-repeat activity in my husband’s brain, which is otherwise quite impervious to things beyond his enterprise.This experience was an eye opener of sorts on the need to take holidays when you are an entrepreneur.

holidaying

You must take short breaks

It’s exciting when you first launch your startup and quite the norm to be totally consumed in planning and executing things, wearing multiple hats and fixing loose ends. The adrenaline coursing through your system means you don’t even dream of wanting a holiday. But working non-stop can be a draining experience which can prove to be counterproductive.

Equally important, if you’re constantly stressed and find yourself projecting it on people around, it can get quite frustrating for them, too. So, do them and yourself a huge favour – slip in a break into your busy schedule and take time out to unwind.

Of late, I’ve noticed that many of our impromptu breaks happen when my husband gets the feeling that he’s just running around in circles, trying to work his way round a hurdle, but finds no new ideas forthcoming. He’s realized that spending time away from the business actually helps him see things from a fresh perspective that wouldn’t have come by grinding away at the job.Which brings me to another important point…..

Where you go is not important, what you do is

A break need not be an elaborately planned holiday to an exotic place. And if you’re bootstrapping like a cautious newbie entrepreneur, you should probably not even look at those glossy brochures that promise you the ultimate luxury experience. There are lots of other things you can do.

Catch a movie. It can draw you into an altogether different realm and may prove to be a wonderful refreshing experience, provided you choose the right movie, of course.

Hanging out with some of his old friends is something that works very well for my husband. They reminisce about events from the past, laugh over their follies, pull each other’s leg and generally bond and steer clear of talking about his business. It works wonders for his spirit.

One of my entrepreneur friends makes it a point to have an Ayurvedic massage at least once a month. She says there’s something about the aroma of the medicated oils and the soothing environment that conspires with the soft, kneading movements of the massage to give her a total relaxation. And she’s advised to have a day of complete rest, with no physical or mental exertion after the massage; so it takes away the guilt about sitting or lying still when there is so much to be done.

There’s one more thing I’ve learned about going on a holiday with an entrepreneur.

Out of sight is not necessarily out of mind; you need to make a conscious attempt to relax
We were on a trip to Murudeshwar and the imposing Shiva statue towering over the exquisite beach made for an enthralling view – that is, to everyone except my husband who had eyes only for the messages and calls on his cellphone. You can take an entrepreneur out of the office, but you can’t take him away from work that he deems to be important. If you make an issue out of it, it spoils the holiday experience for everyone; if you don’t, he’ll probably continue in the same vein and not have any of that rest he badly needs.

We’ve now adopted a middle path. He leaves instructions on who handles what at the office in his absence and sets out a specific hour during which he can be contacted for queries. The rest of the time, his phone is switched off and he manages to join in the fun without petty things disturbing his precious time with the family.

There’s nothing very glamorous about the initial stages of entrepreneurship. And for every person who decides to go it alone, there can be periods of immense stress as you struggle with the question of what you’ve actually achieved. When you find yourself trying too hard is when you actually need to take a small break. So, don’t shelve all holiday plans for “when the business becomes successful;” just go ahead and do something that helps you reboot.

About the guest author

Anusuya Suresh is Asst. Professor with a college in Bangalore. She is also a youth counsellor and volunteer with a non-profit called DISHA that conducts self-improvement workshops for college students in Bangalore. Besides those roles, she is also an entrepreneurial spouse with ample insight into the mental makeup of an entrepreneur.