You might have a little chuckle at this but I am finding it really hard work to rest! It’s so much easier to be mindlessly busy than it is to slow down and do as little as possible. In my case, I am trying to be on devices less and do more peaceful activities, but boy oh boy is it tricky to get off of devices. I didn’t realise how much of my life is based around looking at a screen and how much I use social media!
I am so very grateful to our government for making furlough available to us – if it weren’t for this my company would not have survived Covid-19. Our membership sales dropped to a whopping zero since April, thankfully our marketing income has grown steadily during this time to keep us afloat. Our staff are slowly coming back off furlough and membership sales have started coming in again as people focus on building their businesses again. I, however, am going to remain on Sabbatical until April 2021. This was always something I planned to do but the furlough scheme gave me a way to take the time off I needed and to get the Sabbatical started.
The first challenge and enemy of rest is mental – switching off. How does a CEO switch off? I am still responsible for the company but during this season my role is not entirely necessary as it’s not a time of growth and building the company but a time of maintenance. Maintenance is a killer for me, it bores me to tears and I am not good at it. So sometimes, having me away from the company to give everyone a time to breath is actually the best thing. Even though I am not physically working I am still mentally fine-tuning things and working very hard in my head, trying to figure out solutions for the company. The only key I have found to switch off at the moment is distractions – keeping busy with other things. This has helped me take a step back from the business to a certain degree but the ultimate aim of my Sabbatical is to get to a place of peace and rest, not transferred busyness.
Hopefully, once I have had enough distraction to stop worrying constantly about the company, I will be able to get some true rest.
I am so very grateful for my awesome team who are doing such a great job of running Women’s Business Club and allowing me this time. I promise to come back a better leader with much more to offer.
Another key thing for me during this season has been sleeping. I felt that it’s essential that I sleep as much as possible! Since being in business from 2003 to 2020 I have slept on average 4 hours a night. This is not good! It is not healthy! So, I have allowed my body to sleep when and for as long as it wants to. It has been good and I don’t feel tired for sleep anymore but now that I have ‘caught up’ I am finding that the lack of a sleep routine is causing me not to sleep well again. So, my next step is to put a reasonable bedtime and wake up time back in place so that I can cultivate a healthy sleep pattern. More work required in the sleep department…
Another key to achieving rest is picking the right activities to focus on. I find that the only time I really read these days is on holiday and when I can read it’s a sign that I am truly peaceful and rested. Even though it’s day 100 of furlough I still haven’t managed to read, which means that I am not at that place that I usually achieve on holiday… My challenge now is to start acting like I am on holiday and find the same sort of activities that I would do on holiday to trick my mind into that state of rest. I look forward to chilling in the sun, reading books and pottering around in the garden with no agenda to my day. If I can achieve this I know I will finally start to rest.
Rest doesn’t mean being inactive I’ve learned. In fact, one of the reasons that I’ve ended up with such poor health and need this Sabbatical is because I spent years sitting in a chair for 8 or more hour stretches at a time, always saying that tomorrow I will do better and not sit for such a long time. Even though I’ve always gone to the gym 3 times a week, those hours of forcing my body to sit for such long stretches and forcing my mind to work without breaks has caused significant harm to me. So I am doing the Couch to 5K Challenge, yoga and other exercises daily and finding real joy in working on my physical fitness. I know that this new exercise routine is going to be key to me getting well again and finding healthy rest.
It’s so easy for me to lose sight of what really matters in life and to get so caught up in making the business work. My personal relationships have suffered but I am determined to use this time to build them back up again. Here are my 4 gorgeous children and 2 grandchildren – I am so proud of them all and they deserve to have the best mother and grandmother possible. Time passes by too quickly and me being the rested, peaceful version of myself with time to spend with them all is super important.
My friendships have suffered just as much too with friends starting conversations with, “I know you are very busy but…”. How terrible is it that my friends feel like they are an imposition to me – never again will I allow that. If I am too busy for those nearest and dearest to me then what is the point of my existence I must ask? I do feel rested when I just hang out with loved ones, it is so peaceful to take long walks or sit in the garden and catch up. I will prescribe much more of this for myself too.
So all in all, I am taking this Sabbatical very seriously and putting in the hard work of rest. I see this season as a time to go into my cocoon and come out the other side a beautiful and powerful butterfly. My speaking diary is open and taking bookings for 2021, I look forward to being able to do a much better job then, both in business and life.
Are you still on furlough? How are you doing? What’s your biggest challenge right now?