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working vacation

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The Value of a Working Vacation

"Working vacation? You have to be kidding!" That was the reaction from most people when I used the term. I had planned a two night getaway to Duluth. Craving the sight of water, zen and a need to "buckle down" when it came to planning my future. I've heard from quite a few business owners who struggle with this: hammering so hard on the day-to-day operations/making rent, that thinking about the future seems like something always just barely out of reach. 


I had big plans for what I was going to accomplish. Tactical solutions for a hurdle I've been encountering, planning and process to make sure I don't drop the ball on projects, planning my 1-year Puke Rainbows Party (you're invited!), and a list of approximately 7-8 other things. 

It was ambitious.
It was aggressive. 
It was...not at all what I needed. 

You see, my job has been this HUGE source of joy for me this year. It's more than a job, actually - it's inspiration, daily - both from the clients I work with (yup, kissing ass here), and the other production folks I learn from (yup, another round of ass kissing). But, that joy has been laced with some anxiety. Always this little feeling in my stomach that I'm not doing "enough." That I could be refining a process. That I could be quicker with an invoice. That I could just be...better. 

But, as I sat down to write my business plan for year two, I thought about goals. "Just TYPE, Erica..." I told myself. Because writing is always something that simply flows. So, I did. And this, is what came out: 


Then, I chuckled and stretched my hands above my head. Cheering to myself a bit. Laughing, knowing it wasn't that simple. But, nonetheless - it just felt....good, to see that statement in writing. 

Just a few moments after I posted the above photo, there was my buddy Blois Olson - on the phone. Offering great advice. What followed was a quick 15 minute conversation about where I'm at, what I enjoy, and where I want things to be. Really valuable stuff (Thanks, Blois). 

And as I hung up the phone, I felt a sense of calm and reassurance. I already KNEW what I wanted. But, hearing the words come out of my mouth - and tossing around ideas/thoughts with a colleague, was what I NEEDED. Not some fancy 10 step plan. Not a complex strategy. Just...articulation. 

I closed my laptop. 
And looked outside. 


The water was blue. Choppy. The perfect metaphor, honestly. Just like being a business owner.

Because when you're in the middle of things, there are times you quickly go from swimming and playing in the water, to a feeling of drowning. But really, all you need - is to step out of the water for a minute (or perhaps a day or two) to remind yourself you've really been swimming hard, and that it was worth it - because you made it to the other side of the shore. 

This is probably the part of the story where you expect me to say I kept my laptop closed for the remainder of the trip. 

I didn't. 

But, focus DID change. Instead, I spent a little bit more time looking back, than I had expected. Re-hashing the highlights of the year, crunching numbers, mapping out rough goals to keep in mind - and possible ways to accomplish them, instead of a rigid plan full of tools I don't understand quite yet. More focus on balance. 

One other thing also change. I turned on my TV.   Because, I never do that. Ever. In fact, I don't have a TV anymore - because, well...the internet. Tuning out - brought a sense of escape and balance to the process. Commercials would come, and I'd continue to hammer away at things in between before/afters on HGTV (don't you dare judge me!). Also, indulging in the guilty pleasure of an hour of reality TV (couldn't stomach more than that) brought perspective - because damn, I am SO GLAD I don't have the same life as a "Real Housewife" in New Jersey. ha! 

So, as I pack up my things and gear up to head home - I've learned a few valuable lessons: 

1. Sometimes you already know what you want to do, you just need to jump out of the water to see it. 
2. Don't let the lack of a 20 part plan stop you in your tracks. There is more than one RIGHT way to do something. If you know the goal, keep moving toward it - be agile, eyes open,  and allow things to have breathing room/flexibility. 
3. Talk it out. Bouncing ideas around with someone is a great way to get out of your head. 
4. Never underestimate the stress relieving power of driving for 2 hours with the radio on full blast.
5. A little reality TV never hurt anyone. And, it can make you feel way better about your life. ;-)

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