Being an entrepreneur ranks among the toughest jobs in the world. It isn’t a carefree existence centered on being your own boss and doing only what you love. It’s not uncommon for entrepreneurs who obsess over their businesses to experience mental health issues or allow their jobs to negatively affect family and social relationships.
Now more than ever, it’s crucial for entrepreneurs to maintain the right balance. It starts with self-awareness: realizing you’re going too fast or trying to go too far. When those feelings settle in, you know it’s time to slow down, relax and allow some time for introspection and renewal.
A 2013 survey from Sage North America discovered that nearly half of small-business owners take very little vacation time. Working constantly can lead to debilitating consequences for both body and business, while carving out time away from the maddening schedule actually can do you good. Still, the perception of lost productive time is hard to shake.
As the holiday season approaches, here are some novel ways to recharge your batteries.
1. Extreme sports.
A 2009 study indicated activities that involve a real fear of death can provide lessons in humility as well as courage. These activities have proved truly transformational, with far-reaching effects on other aspects of the participant’s life.
Evolution wires us to survive at all costs. Fear is a natural response against any activity that puts our lives in jeopardy. In this sense, participating in dangerous and potentially life-threatening activities might go against evolutionary sense. But such activities help you confront dangers and choose action in the face of fear. When you participate in extreme sports such as white-water kayaking or bungee jumping, you get a rush of adrenaline. Your body releases neurotransmitters including dopamine, which helps you cope with pain.
These physiological effects of extreme sports can train your body to view fear through a third-person’s perspective. You allow yourself to experience a positive emotional response. It can be extremely helpful to bring those lessons into your contemporary work world. Entrepreneurs must move forward even when there’s a risk. Knowing you’ll make it through can help you be more decisive instead of avoiding uncertainty at all costs.
2. Adventure therapy.
If you aren’t the daredevil kind, consider adventure therapy: mountain climbing, trekking into the wilderness, camping and other pursuits that contain an element of the unknown. Adventure activities offer the ability to gain a greater understanding of who you are and how you live your everyday life.
This can inspire you to look at the bigger picture — what you can become and how you can help the world. It also teaches you to embrace challenges and march confidently toward the success.
Like extreme sports, adventure therapy provides a training ground to become more comfortable with uncertain outcomes. You also might come away more prepared to face adversity and become more tolerant of its place in your life.
There’s also this: Adventure activities demonstrate the power of teamwork. No one can achieve much alone. It takes a team to shape a business, and adventure activities can drive home the important role that trust and commitment play in your company’s success.
3. Recreational sports.
If the first two options on this list are a little too extreme, a more laid-back vacation might fit the bill. Find an exotic location where you can savor the weather, views, food and local flavor.
Leisure activities in paradise can be a great way to slow down and stimulate your creativity. Playing golf with a group of friends involves moderate physical activity as you walk, focus on form and practice your swing. Golf challenges the right side of your brain, which in turn can boost creativity. It also allows you to take in some fresh air and enjoy quality time with people who matter in your life.
Depending on the members of your golf party, a round on the course followed by social hour at the clubhouse can develop business opportunities as well as create good memories.
4. Meditation retreats.
Meditation can help defuse stress and connect you with your internal self. But it’s difficult to master the discipline needed to meditate regularly. A meditation retreat removes daily work distractions so you can concentrate on your inner world.
The 10-day Vipassana Meditation Retreat is a course in the ancient Vipassana technique as taught by master S.N. Goenka. It’s a tough but doable program. You aren’t allowed to speak to anyone, read, write, listen to music or perform any kind of physical exercise. You’re totally unplugged from the world. But you are connected with another important entity: yourself. This experience teaches mindfulness of your own habits, forcing you to slow down and savor your food, make peace with yourself and develop sensitivity to all sentient creation.