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I just finished a nice, long weekend get-away, canoeing and hiking in the bush. Caught a few fish each day and enjoyed them with a nice glass or two of wine each night. Now, you may or may not like my verson of time away from the job, but as a solopreneur you do need a break. However, for many solopreneurs, although one of our objectives is have greater control of our time – vacations and time away from work are what we never plan. Therefore, pay attention to the “Tarzan Rule” of vacation planning!
I first heard about the “Tarzan Rule” from my wife (a family doctor) who went to a conference in which the main speaker talked about how stressed out doctors were and how bad they were at giving themselves a break. The result? High levels of stress, people leaving their careers early, increasing shortage of doctors in areas that badly needed them. The statistics were pretty alarming and despite the fact that most of the people in the room could recognize stress in others – they were lousy at recognizing it in themselves (perhaps they should have asked their spouses and family members!).
So, what is the “tarzan rule?” Pretty simple actually. Never leave one vacation before you have scheduled and planned the next. Picture tarzan swinging from vine to vine. If he only thought about the next vine after he let go of the previous one, tarzan would have ended up being hyena food pretty quickly! And then, who would have taken care of Jane?
Seems a little ridiculous at first sight but give it some thought. How often have you felt yourself stressed out, feeling tired with no “get up and go” or simply being a “pain in the ass” to everyone around you? Finally, someone says to you that you should take a break or go on vacation? Then it takes you weeks or even months to schedule something in and actually organize it up. The result? One stressed-out solopreneur!
The “tarzan rule” doesn’t say how long the vacation or break has to be, nor what you should do on it. It simply says that you should schedule it before you leave your other break/vacation. My suggestion? On the last night of your break (be it 2 days or 2 weeks), sit down and figure out something for the next one. Even if you can’t decide what to do, schedule the time off and when you get back to work put it in your agenda. Tell people you will be away that period and work around those dates.
Now, I’ve personally never had a problem with taking breaks as they are one of the reasons I run my own businesses. When I take a break, I am quite happy if it is somewhere where email, phones and anything else electronic doesn’t work. My break is being where others can’t get hold of me (ergo canoeing and camping in the bush). You might have different ideas of course but the tarzan rule of mental health still applies: Plan your next break/vacation before you are finished with your current one! Staying sane and happy with yourself is an important part of being a solopreneur. Do it!