Before Your Work Begins

We’re entering the time of the year when we receive more automated out-of-the-office emails that sound like this: “I am away for a well-deserved vacation.”

Why “well-deserved”?

For many, the emphasis on "well-deserved” suggests a narrative that subtly ties our right to rest with how hard we worked:

  • The success of our business equates to the time we pour into it.

  • Therefore, the more you work, the better you become.

  • Time away from work is socially thought of as an incentive.

  • The time off you typically get after a year with the company reinforces the cultural aspect of “vacation as a reward.”

  • “Work hard, rest hard.”

  • “Prove what you’re worth, and then I’ll let you rest.”

As entrepreneurs, our inherent workaholic nature often pushes us into a trap where the guilt of stepping away from our work becomes more overwhelming than the fatigue we feel from overworking.

As our energy level diminishes, so does our ability to notice that we need a break. The guilt takes over, and we keep on going. Hence the toxicity of this narrative.

Even when we've earned our vacation, we frequently deny ourselves the opportunity to enjoy it truly. For example, I once worked for a firm that boasted an “unlimited time-off at anytime” policy, even before the end of your first year. Ironically, the data showed our team was taking less time off than average. The rule that was intended as a progressive approach paved the way for burnout, fatigue, and a lack of fresh perspectives on our own ideas.

So, how can we reframe this narrative?

Let's consider a radical shift in perspective, where time off is not a reward but a precondition for success. Just like we need sleep or food, relaxing nurtures empowering thoughts; before we can empower others.

When time off comes first:

  • Rest is the fuel that powers our innovative ideas and sustainable productivity.

  • Rest is the starting point of the week - Sunday, the day of the Sun, and the day of the Sabbath in ancestral traditions.

  • We ensure we have enough energy to deliver the value we promised.

  • The reward becomes the chance to work.

  • Therefore, you anticipate your work.

  • Therefore, it has to be joyful, valuable, and inspiring.

  • The rest IS the work.

This new narrative aligns with my view on "healthy productivity,” which I define as:

“ The practice of achieving your business vision, not by working more, but by applying your time and energy toward creative, original, and valuable work. Healthy productivity starts by prioritizing while resisting the urge to put out every fire and grounding yourself so that your work expresses your intentions and inner truth—not fear, anxiety, and reactivity.”

Remember that you are not a sprinter but a marathon runner in your entrepreneurship journey. That means you need enough stamina to go through the long valleys of doubt and despair you will inevitably hit. Great entrepreneurs are brilliant because they can sustain long periods before their next breakthrough and strike the right order between work and rest.

Recharge ahead. Reframe rest as the precondition for success.

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