3 Vacation Success Strategies for Independent ConsultantsJul 13, 2022
Has taking vacation as an Independent Consultant ever you caused more stress than relaxation?
We’ve all been there.
You take vacation as an independent consultant, but instead of fully unplugging, you find yourself consumed by feelings of overwhelm, and the work in your independent consulting business is piling up.
On top of it, you're worried that you're leaving money on the table by taking "unpaid" time off.
Not being able to take a fully unplugged vacation leads to more stress instead of the rejuvenated feeling we hope vacation would accomplish.
After all, emails, Slack messages, and phone calls are still coming in.
You find yourself staying in your hotel room while your family or friends spend time doing all the vacation-related activities that you WANT to be doing.
So how exactly can you turn off the noise so you can take an actual vacation as an independent consultant?
If you want to be able to fully unplug and take vacation as an independent consultant, here are a few questions I want you to consider that will help you alleviate the overwhelm and stress that is associated with being away from your independent consulting business.
- What can you be doing before you take a vacation?
- What can you be doing during the vacation to be present?
- How can you make re-entry from vacation as seamless as possible?
Strategy #1: Pre-vacation planning as an independent consulting business owner is about more than just the location you're going to.
As with any vacation, there is always going to be some planning that needs to take place ahead of time. Of course, you’re going to plan where you're going on your vacation. But you also need to pre-plan for your business to set you up for success upon your return.
Here are some questions that you need to ask yourself as a business owner, and as an employee.
- What is the purpose of my vacation?
- What do I want to get out of the time I’m investing?
- What is the return on my time that I want to accomplish?
- How do I want to leave my vacation feeling?
- What does success look like at the end of my vacation?
It’s very easy to let the thoughts of money lost or work that needs to be done creep in during your time away. Answering these questions ahead of time allows you to keep your time off from your independent consulting business in perspective. It allows you to remind yourself that taking vacation as an independent consultant is an investment in yourself and your consulting business.
Of course, everyone’s answers to these questions are going to be different. For some, your purpose may be to feel fully recharged after spending time being fully present with your family. For others, your purpose may be to get the alone time that you need to come back to your independent consulting business feeling fully recharged and ready to take on more as you scale your independent consulting business. Bottom line…know what success looks like for you at the end of your vacation.
Another important part of pre-vacation planning is making a plan for your return before you even leave.
What can you do before you leave to set yourself up for re-entry success as a business owner, AND as an employee? It’s easy to focus more on what you can do as an employee than a business owner. Naturally, the work you do for your clients is going to be at the top of your list. But you also need to set yourself up to hit the ground running as a business owner, too.
A great way to do this is by writing down exactly what you’re going to be doing when you return from vacation. Schedule out the first 2-3 days of your re-entry to your business. When you create this schedule ahead of time, you're going to take away a lot of anxiety and stress that surrounds knowing what you need to tackle first when you return from your vacation.
Strategy #2: Planning for obstacles that could arise during your vacation as an independent consultant will help during the heat of the moment.
I love planning how I’m going to handle anything that arises during my vacation. When you are on vacation, your decision-making capabilities may not be as clear. If you create protocols surrounding how you will handle issues that arise while you are away, you don't have to make split-second decisions.
Here are a few things you will want to consider when you're planning for obstacles that may arise in your independent consulting business:
- Decide ahead of time how you want to handle your actual time on vacation.
- Think about what potential obstacles may come up, as a business owner and employee, while you're taking vacation as an independent consultant.
- Consider how you're going to handle those obstacles.
- Decide how you want to handle emotional interruptions that occur while you're taking a vacation.
When you have an independent consulting business, you know there's always some kind of “fire” happening. If a “fire” starts while you're taking a vacation, how are you going to handle it? Decide how you are going to handle these “fires” ahead of time, based on the guiding principles you have set for your vacation.
You need to know that it’s absolutely normal for you to worry or stress about your independent consulting business.
In order to get out of that emotional state of worrying or stress, you will have to shift your mindset into something that creates calmness. A simple way to do this is to redirect your thoughts to “I’m not doing that today.” This leaves the door open to handle whatever is going on tomorrow. But if tomorrow comes, and you still need to stay fully present while on vacation, you can use the phrase “I’m not doing that today” again.
Strategy #3: Planning your first few days back in your independent consulting business post-vacation.
You are going to want to have your first several days mapped out before you even leave on your vacation. This way you know exactly how to hit the ground running when you return to working in your independent consulting business. Responsibility amnesia always happens when you've been able to fully check out and recharge. So have that gift for yourself waiting on your desk so that you know exactly what you need to do.
Be sure to establish post-vacation protocols for your independent consulting business.
These are similar to the protocols you created for things that arise during your vacation. Simply remind yourself what happens when you come back from vacation. It's very common to feel overwhelmed, out of control, and/or behind. So think about things that commonly happen when you come back from vacation, and make yourself a protocol as to how you're going to handle that.
A great protocol to consider for when you get back from vacation and you’re feeling overwhelmed is instead of letting your brain get out of control spend 10 minutes writing down all the facts surrounding what is making you feel overwhelmed. Establishing protocols for post-vacation can allow you to handle heated situations more efficiently in the heat of the moment. This is going to make your return to working in your independent consulting business feel so much more under control.
Another great post-vacation protocol to consider implementing in your independent consulting business is spending the first 3 days back catching up on work for your clients and handling anything that happened while you were gone. Then, after those 3 days, you’re going to get right back into your routine as an independent consulting business owner.
Don’t let the purpose of your vacation be undone the first day you're back to working in your independent consulting business.
You don't have to come back to an inbox and desk full of overwhelm and frustration. That's why I shared these 3 very specific success strategies for you to think about as you're planning your vacation as an independent consulting business owner and an employee. I want you to be able to maximize the return on the time off that you've taken.
The Summary- 3 Vacation Success Strategies for Taking Vacation as an Independent Consultant
- Define your vacation success plan.
- Pre-plan the purpose of your vacation and how you want to feel when you return.
- Plan for obstacles that will come up during vacation.
- Establish post-vacation protocols.
- Listen to Episode 70- 3 Vacation Success Strategies on the Grow Your Independent Consulting Business podcast.
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