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On the importance of energizing holidays for entrepreneurs

I have just returned from holidays in Jervis Bay, a stunning region set in a marine national park a few hours drive south of Sydney. It is one of those places scattered around the world that feels magical in some inexpressible way.

Summer is Here | Jervis Bay
Image credit: Hadi Zaher

It was just a one week holiday, my first proper break in the last year, which has been perhaps the most intense year in my life. Victoria and I did take a little time off between this last Christmas and New Year but I ended having to do a some urgent client work and many interviews including Sunrise, Today, and Morning Show over New Year so it wasn’t a real holiday.

Switching off

During the holiday I was almost completely switched off from digital world, with limited connectivity where we were staying helping me avoid more than very briefly glancing at email or Twitter every day or so, though I did need to respond to a couple of enquiries.

Over the last while I have seen quite a few tweets from leading entrepreneurs, saying how they love entrepreneurs because they are always on, they never turn away from their passion.

Absolutely, as an entrepreneur when you are switched on, you always want to do anything and everything possible to advance your cause, to push things forward.

However it is certainly not a good thing not to be able to switch off at all. For an entrepreneur, because there are no half-measures when it comes to work, the only solution is to switch off as fully as possible when you can.

Every time I switch off I find it to be an amazing and extraordiinary experience. If I make the choice to switch off, I find it pretty easy to dismiss the recurring impulse to check on messages.

Interrupting habits

The vast majority of connected people on the planet have very well-developed habits to check their email or social media, almost all of them more than is useful or even sane, really.

My digital habits are not entirely dysfunctional, partly since I have the fortune (?) to have my work significantly based around social media, however I am absolutely guilty of over-habitual checking in.

Humans adopt habits easily, and we need to have power over them. In my 2014: Crunch Time report I wrote that:

We must all choose how we want to participate in a world increasingly driven by digital connections. It is a valid choice not to engage, as long as you understand the extent of the lost opportunities. More of us need to know how to sometimes switch off, to avoid being sucked into an online vortex that ultimately subtracts from us rather than adding possibilities.

Space

When you switch off, you are giving space to ideas and feelings to emerge that are suppressed by constant busy-ness.

These feelings are critically important for allowing our humanity, individuality, and personality to develop. However focused we are on our entrepreneurial ventures, these are not dispensable.

The ideas that emerge into a little space in your life are also often immensely valuable in your ventures. Perspective is critical for anyone involved in creating things.

Health

Supposedly more than half of people gain weight on their holidays. That is terrible. They find it hard to keep fit and healthy during their usual working life, then go backwards when they are on holidays.

Each time Victoria, the girls and I go to Jervis Bay we focus on exercise and very healthy food, and almost completely cut out sugar, alcohol, and other toxins. Every day I go for an ocean swim and beach run at least once, and often twice.

You can readily reset your habits and palate in a week, meaning that well after a break you will shun unhealthy or excessive food, and feel compelled to exercise regularly.

During last year’s holiday and the following weeks when I maintained good habits, I managed to lose close to 5kgs of excess weight I’d been trying to get rid of for over 10 years. I have kept it off this year and I’ve lost a little more weight on this holiday.

The difference in well-being when you have less excess weight is extraordinary. I have felt far better over the last year.

Energy

Victoria and I both believe it’s very likely this coming year will be the most amazing in our lives, in both our work and personal lives.

For that, we must be as fit and healthy as possible. We will be working immensely hard. My upcoming schedule and planned ventures for the next few months are already looking extremely intense, including speaking engagements in four continents and potentially launching two new companies, and that’s just the beginning.

What you achieve is largely dependent on your energy levels. Grinding yourself into the ground with insane amounts of work without respite vastly deducts from your store of energy. Entrepreneurs sometimes feel they are in it for a short dash of maybe a few years. But being completely burnt out when you find you need yet more energy destroys opportunities. Entrepreneurs should always be in it for the long game.

Nature

Entrepreneurs are blessed to experience extraordinary scope in our endeavours. Yet the immense focus required brings us to detail and away from broader vistas.

The cities and towns around the world where almost all entrepreneurship happens have many qualities, but rarely that of natural beauty. (Though Sydney does pretty well on this score.)

Spending time in a wonderful natural environment gives us perspective. It can inspire us in very practical ways. Business models as well as materials and products can be bio-mimetic.

Returning

I have to say it doesn’t take too long of a holiday before I start thinking about work, getting new ideas, and raring to go again. I’m sure the majority of entrepreneurs experience this.

I do aspire to having considerably longer holidays than one week, though that’s not feasible for the meantime.

However not having a holiday is very likely to reduce the chances of entrepreneurial success.

A wonderful 2014

Now, having had an awesome holiday, I am looking forward to throwing my invigorated self into the fray, working as hard and as smart as I can to create special things in the year ahead.

Make sure you take energizing holidays too. They will drive success and create a far better life for you and those around you.

For the most current insights and trends in the living networks, follow @rossdawson on Twitter!

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About the Blog author

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Ross Dawson is globally recognized as a leading futurist, entrepreneur, keynote speaker, strategy advisor, and bestselling author. He is Founding Chairman of AHT Group, which consists of 3 companies: consulting, publishing, and ventures firm Advanced Human Technologies, future and strategy firm Future Exploration Network, and events company The Insight Exchange.

Ross is author most recently of Getting Results From Crowds, the prescient Living Networks, which anticipated the social network revolution, the Amazon.com bestseller Developing Knowledge-Based Client Relationships, and Implementing Enterprise 2.0. (click on the links for free chapter downloads). He is based in Sydney and San Francisco with his wife jewellery designer Victoria Buckley and two beautiful young daughters.

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