Let me give you a little preview why I even decided to write this, I promise at the end it will all make sense!
My story is a typical immigrant story, the one where you work all the time, build a business and work some more. The word vacation is sort of on the border of being lazy and inappropriate.
So how did it happen that this year in July I was able to take 2 weeks off. Completely off the grid and not even once checking in with my team? Was I a little concerned what would I tell my team, investors, and bunch of other people?
Yes and all of the above. However below is what I’ve learned during these 2 “miserable” weeks.
It’s all Ego. Yep, me worrying how the team will survive and the rest. It’s all driven by the ego that loves to be in the epicenter of attention. Yes, I agree, there is a great deal of problems that are up to me to resolve. But realistically, 2 weeks will not make a difference. Not to mention the whole startup world is becoming a little chest-puffing match.
I have managed to become a bit boring. Yep. 14-16 hour work days leave no room to read history or a biography or anything outside of building my company. Yes, I love what I do and every day is a blessing, but I love LIFE even more. Why do I need to go on vacation for 2 weeks to remind myself that there is life outside of my “startup world”. Next time I go for 2 weeks off (very soon) I want to read at least one book about the place I’m going too. Perhaps I can learn something that I can later discuss with my friends and be an interesting person. I need to relearn my passions, interests, and hobbies. Where is my Zen?
Allow yourself to be silly. I’m absolutely blessed to have friends that I have. They remind me to be silly and not to take myself to seriously. On the 2nd day of the trip I was telling my friend Ivan how serious of a problem is to deal with distributors when he threw me in the water with a parting phrase “Take a plunge”. Why in the world do I think building my company is the most serious thing a human kind have ever done. Go figure, but it certainly killed the fun in the last 3-5 months prior to this trip.
Keep your old friends as close as you can. My friends, the ones I’ve been friends with for the last decade, know me best. We can talk without words, we can laugh all day and surprisingly we can tolerate each other for so long on the trip. My old friends have become the foundation for all new friendships and it’s sort of my source of confidence when I build new friendships. In the last couple of years I’ve built great new friendships in the dental industry, but I would not have done it without my good old wolf pack. This is my ego free zone, no judgment, and no expectations. Not every one of them is perfect, but who is, right?
Time to think. I have a list of things to get done, everyday. I’m no different from other achievers and people who get Sh***t done. But do I allow myself to get lost in my own thoughts? Now, for almost 14 days I had time to think. Free, uninterrupted, lost in my own thoughts, and it was awesome. Seriously, I think I was able to go all the way back to my childhood, remembering moments in my hometown, school, friends, first business, and first love. All of it. Most importantly it reminded me I was alive! How grateful I am for people around me and all we have accomplished together.
Dream a little. Building Zen is wrapped around numbers, retention, deals, numbers again, my team, challenges, obstacles, learning and being creative. But what are my dreams? Do you ever find yourself thinking “Wait a minute, why am I doing this, what is my dream? “ That North Star that used to wake me up at 5am and keep me going for 14 hours a day. Maybe I’m the only one that got wrapped in the day to day that dreaming became a luxury. I remember dreaming a lot, because that’s all I had. My dreams were so clear, I could feel it, touch it, smell it. If you ask how is 5am possible I would say, how could you not be up at 5am to work on your dreams. Now I had a chance to dive into my notes and visualize my dreams. And to be completely honest, dreaming is a skill like anything else, you don’t use, you lose it. It’s super uncomfortable and weird first day, but then, with a help of my journal, I remembered what my bucket list look like and countries I want to visit, etc. Controlling your mind, your will power is one of the few things that are in our control, perhaps the only one. Dream big, dream small, doesn’t matter, just allow yourself to dream. When you dream clear, your mind creates a plan how to make it happen!
I missed my work. Yep, after all, I don’t work because I have to. I work because I have a burning desire to build a great company, the type of company I will look back and say “it wasn’t easy but the journey was worth it”. Since I was 6 or 7 I visualized having 300 people in my organization all working together and solving really important problems. I have a feeling Zen might be just that, so why not work hard and make it happen!
Conclusion. When you afraid to leave for 2 weeks or more, that is exactly the moment you need to. Clear your mind, let problems occur (if they do) and when you come back you will know exactly what to work on and what to fix. It’s just that simple. Take a plunge!
I only wrote this for one person, who is a workaholic like me, trying to justify taking 2 days off for him or herself. My advice, be yourself, but for me taking the time off brings the best out of me and in order to win at whatever I’m doing I need to be the best!
P.S. My 2 week of the grid trip was in Greece. All I can say is eat more Greek Salad when you there!
If you need any help planning a trip to Greece please reach out:
Insta: @tiger.safarov and DM me
Founder of ZenSupplies
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