Last week I took the entire week off. It ended up being more than a week. More like 10 days, from 19 April until 29 April 2019. Every time I do it, I feel like I’m swimming upstream.
I’ll tell you why.
Nobody else seems to take leave at the rate that I do.
In fact, I feel like the only ‘entrepreneur’ in the world, sometimes, who works less than others of my age, of my standing, of my time of life.
I even feel like I work less than people who have what some of you laughingly refer to as Real Jobs.
Now, I need to be clear about that. I have a Real Job. My business is an incorporated company, so I pay company taxes and personal income taxes and all the rest of it. I have a serious title - I’m the Chief Executive (ahem, Queen Pixie). My job, right now, is Everything.
Sales, operations, growth, strategy, delivering on the work. I have some outstanding advisors, like this lovely lady; but I’m focusing on maximizing capacity before bringing in more hands again. So, it’s just me.
The fact that I work less than other people actually bothers me. My clients work flat-out, constantly. I have one client, who is a mum to two beautiful children, a wife to a lovely fella, a mentor, a sales gun, and the woman delivering most of the work as well, and she works days, nights, and weekends. Her business is doing incredible things; she’s doubled her figures in under 12 months.
In contrast, I work 7 am to 4 pm, four days per week. I have weekends off. I dance Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and pretty soon will be dancing a fifth day. I spend Wednesdays writing creatively. I don’t have kids, I have a gorgeous but happily independent husband, who loves it when I’m doing what rocks my boat.
In contrast to my clients, and in fact, most of the people in my life, I am a bludger. You might even think I’m a bludger, come to that.
Especially when you learn that I’ve just had a week off, and I’m STILL taking today off to work on my creative muscles.
But you know what, this is just programming. You have been programmed to think that. The truth is that I’ve got a life that I love, so why does it matter, actually? We can always use more money, but if you don’t love what you have right now, then it sucks to be you. Today is all you have.
I say that in the full knowledge that it might make you sigh with impatience, but I’d like you to know something. In 2018 I faced some potentially life-threatening things, and handled some dark days. Instead of deciding to do things the way most people approach them, I dug deep and I fundamentally rebuilt my life.
Let’s consider, then, the fact that it’s counterintuitive to take time off. To do that, I’d like to tell you a story.
Last week, I spent three days, totally disconnected from all technology more advanced than electricity and petrol-fuelled vehicles. Instead of taking photographs, I sketched things and kept notes. I read books. I meditated with trees. I took time to commune with my other half in those three days, and the days surrounding it, as we both took a week out to celebrate our marriage (which we do every year, by the way).
On the day we were due to return to the city, I got up early and sat in the garden as the sun came up over the tree line.
I sat under a black wattle tree, whose bark was thick with the sticky sap she bled, weeping for the limbs she’d had removed the week prior. Her limbs were sliced up and stacked not two metres away. Sentry wrens perched in her highest remaining, stick-like branches. I sat next to her, sketching a cabin at the base of the Heysen Trail. Nearby was a chook I’d greeted the day before; she’d come out to keep me company.
I sat and sketched, and watched. Willy wagtails darted in and swirled around in pairs, alighting nobly on the gutter of the cabin. An Adelaide Hills Parrot flew in and stood with her back to me on the corner, iridescent blue wings folded down her back.
Smiling up at the landscape, I asked if anyone else would like to be in the picture I was drawing. Whatever animal life emerged, went in.
It was peaceful.
I was completely happy.
I was, at that moment, the wealthiest person I knew: I had created for myself a life where I could decide to take a week off, and nothing would break. It was completely luxurious, and all I was doing was sitting on a pile of dirt with a graphite pencil, in my pyjamas, forty minutes’ drive from my house.
At what point do you decide that you’re happy?
As an entrepreneur, one who loves work, one who is a recovering workaholic, I found this state of intensely non-working, non-writing, non-connected time to be expansive, full of the life that you miss out on when you’re inside for 22 of 24 hours every day.
But you know as well as I do that it’s taken me a long time to get here. I still compare myself to others sometimes and think, shit, Leticia, what the fuck are you doing? Is it possible to earn the money you want and need to do “proper” grownup things like buy assets like a new car and maybe a piece of land, while living this life? Or are you just kidding yourself?
I like to believe that it’s possible. So rather than unwinding what I’ve built, I’m loving it.
Because life isn’t in tomorrow. It’s in what you’re sitting on, breathing, and reading, right now.