For me, my time away is so much more than a vacation – it’s a business exercise that I encourage everyone to experiment with. Here’s why I take the time away:
In the context of creating a business that is not dependent on me, it’s good for the business of Atticus® that I step away to find out what systems don’t work when I’m not around.
By the end of the four weeks I am hungry to get back to work. I’m actually chomping at the bit — and that’s a good feeling. It keeps burn out at bay.
It gives me time to clear my head, get my priorities in order, and develop new perspectives in dealing with my life and the business.
It extends my work life. As long as I have this kind of freedom and independence, I could easily choose to work more years than I may have if I dreaded the business or it felt like “I had to go to work” every day.
It forces me to walk the talk. Our mission is to help you build systems and develop talent so that you have a great law firm, committed to excellence, but one that isn’t dependent on you. In doing that we encourage you to take a month off, at least once, to experience the process and give your practice room to grow. (So you see, I really take the time off for you!)
If you are interested in the challenge and taking four weeks off in a row, here are my suggestions.
- Block the time off in your calendar well in advance. Six months to a year should be plenty of time.
- Declare it. Tell your spouse, partners and staff that you are going to do it… and why. If all else fails, tell them that your coach is making you do it.
- Also, let judges, colleagues, and clients know what you are doing. Tell them where you are going or what adventure you are embarking on. This is an important step and one I highly recommend you adhere to. One Atticus® graduate who took a month off found nasty rumors that he had been in drug rehab when he returned to the office. It’s so unusual for an attorney to take extended time off that his competitors manufactured their own explanation. It was inconceivable to this person that through planning, systemizing and building a great team, it was possible for this attorney to legitimately take a month off.
- Get your staff on board. Let them know that this is a test of the office systems and their abilities. Review each case and the types of problems that are likely to come up while you’re away. Anticipate the problems and discuss solutions ahead of time.
- Prior to the vacation, block off the day before you leave for last minute planning. Do not schedule client appointments or calls. Same thing for the first day back – we call these “Phantom Days”. They’re important because it’s not the vacation we dread, it’s the days leading up to it and then the reentry!
Give a mini-sabbatical a shot. It’s worth the investment to see if your business can function without you. Any breakdowns that occur (and with proper planning, these should be minimal) will be your firm’s way of communicating what still needs work.