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a blog by Chris Barrow

Get your holidays booked

On the subject of maintaining your own mental health - have you booked all of your time off and holidays for this year?

I was once asked "what was your best business decision?" and my answer was immediate.

in 1993 I heard Dan Sullivan (founder of Strategic Coach) ask an audience "if you could wave a magic wand, how much time off would you take each year?"

As the father of a growing family who travelled extensively for work (and so didn't get to see the kids much) my answer was 12 weeks.

Sullivan encouraged his listeners to just do it.

It was 1996 before I summoned up the courage (or maybe became desperate enough) to plan the calendar in advance and book the time out.

We took the 12 weeks - some properly on holiday and some just time at home.

Nobody died - my business didn't fail - my clients didn't fire me - I got some valuable aspects of my life back.

That established a successful habit for the following 20 years - 12 weeks off every year.

After the kids flew the nest, it dropped to 10 weeks (because I can't find enough things to do) and has stayed there since. Even during the pandemic.

I used to book the weeks for next year's holidays in August of the preceding year.

Nowadays I have them booked by the end of May in the preceding year, because if I don't do that, the time gets booked out for work.

I recently calculated that I'm working well over 60 hours a week when I am working. It's a good job I love the work.

But keeping at least 85% of my weekends clear (allowing for trade shows, conferences and such) and taking 10 weeks off work every year have played a large part in keeping me reasonably sane and in good shape to do my best work.

Get those weeks booked in your calendar - if you haven't done this before, get them booked for "22 and '23. It doesn't matter if you don't know what you will be doing or where you will be going - just get them booked.

p.s. if you work for somebody else, you trade that freedom for the security of a salary - make sure you have adequate time off as part of your contract.

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