I am writing this from a place I haven’t been in for quite some time: I am relaxed, I am refocused and reengergized. After over two years of homeschooling, starting a new business and teaching private lessons and workshops with no break, you might wonder how I managed to do this. It was simple: I took a vacation.
The Burnout is Real
In the spring of this year I was feeling a level of burnout that I have never felt before. In the midst of a global pandemic, which caused me to shift my focus to homeschooling my young son, I also decided to start a new business. While I managed to keep it all together and find some success and growth, my mental health started taking a toll. It was clear that I needed to do something radical.
I decided it was time to take a three week vacation and spend some time in my beloved home country, Canada. My son and I had not been back to visit since 2019 (thanks Covid!) and we hadn’t seen my dad in over 2.5 years.
The Radical Step
I took a radical (for me) step and did a complete disconnect. Here is what I did:
- Put an away message on my email, explaining that I won’t be responding to emails for three weeks.
- Deleted all social media apps off my phone
- I managed to not work the entire vacation – I wrote no blogs, created zero new tutorials, caught up on zero emails and taught a grand total of no students.
For some of you, this might seem kind of obvious: what kind of nutcase would check emails or post on social media whilst on vacation?!? My business owners might understand how challenging it can be to take this break, especially if you are still launching a new business. It can be terrifying to step away as a self employed person and the income that your business generates. TERRIFYING.
I proud to say that I managed to actually fulfill my disconnect. I brought my laptop with me in case there were any emergencies that came up, but I didn’t use it one single time. FREEDOM!
What I Learned
Here is what I learned from my three week disconnect:
1. I was a lot more distracted than I thought I was.
Marketing and specifically social media marketing has been a big part of my life as I spread the word about my membership. The constant posting and checking and commenting has been really exhausting and I’m not even sure if it’s been really worth it.
Once I got over the initial few days of feeling like I’m missing something, I was able to feel my psyche relax and start to feel the flow of thoughts an emotions in a more pure way. I started feeling a lot more present in my interactions with others. I felt myself slowing down and not feeling the anxious “go go go” feeling. I found joy and entertainment watching birds at the birdfeeder and dragonflies moving around the lake. I could sit with my thoughts for longer and sift through some issues that had been nagging me.
2. I found other ways to occupy my time.
Since my son also got a digital detox on this trip (buh-bye Minecraft!), we had a lot more time being “bored.” Being bored meant that we had deep conversations in the car, we played more games and we read together more. We also got excited about the natural world, spending hours watching my dad’s birdfeeder and the chipmunks and rabbits that come into his yard every day.
I read three entire books, wrote pages and pages in my journal and sat around in the evenings chatting with my loved ones. My son did Scrabble game mock ups for hours and became unbeatable. Boredom was an amazing gift to us!
(Frog pond visits were a favorite “unplugged” source of fun on our trip!)
3. I started to get clarity on what I want to do next.
Since I could sit with my thoughts, I was able to quietly reflect on what I want to do going forward. As my season of homeschooling comes to an end, I suddently have more time in my life. (Homeschooling is a full time job, y’all!).
This past year has been a huge hustle for me, taking business and marketing trainings and trying to figure out how to actually build a following for my business. I have thrown a lot of things up against the wall to see what sticks – LOTS of trial and error. I finally have a sense of how I want to show up as a business owner and what makes me feel good as a creator and mentor.
4. I felt the call back to music making.
I have been forthcoming about the fact that I have been only minimally engaged with music making in the past two years. My focus has been 100% on homeschool and my business and I was feeling really lost in how I would once again connect with my musical life. Somehow in the quiet, I heard the calling again. It felt like magic.
Vacations are good
So without sounding like one of those “financial experts” whose advice is “don’t spend all your money”, I will say this: vacations are good. If you know that already and take them with great frequency, then I applaud you (and request that you don’t roll your eyes at me.)
(The frogs were glad we came back to New York City)
If you are someone who tends to overwork, or is stuck in the hustle and grind, I urge you to try a few days to truly unplug. It is worth its weight in gold.