Every week, I talk to lawyers who work 60, 80, 100 hours per week. They think there’s no way they could possibly take a vacation.
If they do, they’re taking work with them. They’re bringing their laptops and phones. They’re responding to emails and calling in to check messages.
That’s not a vacation.
That’s a good way to piss off your family in an exotic locale.
If you can’t take a completely unplugged vacation, with no work-related emails, phone calls or messages, it means you haven’t set up your business the right way. A real business doesn’t require one person to do everything in order to function.
Breaking and Fixing
A real business isn’t you. It’s separate from you. And the second you forget that and start confusing yourself with the business, you can’t unplug. All of a sudden, you wonder how you can ever catch a break. You wonder why your friends in other lines of work can take a vacation, and you can’t.
There’s a reason. Most lawyers aren’t running their practice like a real business. They’re the medieval shopkeeper. Setting up their stand, spreading their samples, waiting for someone to blunder by and order a horseshoe. And when the order comes in, they run off to stoke the fire. Whenever that may be. Vacation, illness, whatever.
Sadly, they haven’t set up business processes that separate them from the business. That allow them to delegate tasks. That let business happen when they aren’t there.
If you’ve ever taken a real vacation, maybe before you started your own practice, you’ve probably noticed that most of what you need to get done, somehow just ...gets done.
Test whether or not your practice is running like a real business. Go on a vacation and see what breaks.
You probably think this is insane. You can’t possibly just unplug. What if something goes wrong?
And that’s exactly why you must do it. You need to break yourself. Prove it to yourself. Because me telling you is one thing. You truly internalizing the truth is another entirely.
Do this and you’ll quickly realize that 99.9 percent of things that “go wrong” just take care of themselves and don’t create much of a problem.
But it has to be a truly unplugged vacation. You can’t secretly check in by phone and email to see what’s going wrong. Your vacation is for resting and recharging your batteries, with the knowledge that there probably will be a list of things that didn’t go exactly right while you were gone.
But that’s okay.
This is your new fix-it list. This enables you to create systems and processes to handle things when you’re not there.
Opportunity, Not Crisis
We typically have an idea of what the most important systems and processes are, but we’re not 100 percent sure if they’ll hold up while we’re away.
By going away and unplugging, you can let things break.
Breaking is good. Breaking is opportunity.
When you return, create an airtight solution for what broke so you’re practice is better prepared for your next vacation. Instead of going into crisis mode because something goes wrong, view it as an opportunity to fix things and make your practice stronger.
Lather, rinse, repeat vacation.