Before the two holidays I took in 2017 I hadn’t been on holiday for about 5 years. I haven’t had one since. It’s less about time and more about money. I refuse to get into debt for one fleeting moment in 52 weeks. Holidays aren’t the answer to self employed burn out. Sure it’s nice to see somewhere new and experience new cultures and countries, but then there’s the added stress of paying off the holiday that you probably bought on your overdraft and, to be honest, once you’re back nothing really changes.
For most of us holidays are just a sticking plaster for other issues that need addressing. A holiday won’t change your workload, or the people, or your lack of personal time. And if you don’t even like your job it’s certainly not going to be make the return any less painful. If you’re burnt out at work, why would a week away change that once you’re back and stuck into that same routine you tried to escape from seven days previously?
They say ‘do a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life’. This is the truest of statements but you have to find the courage to change the way you work or change your job completely in order to benefit from that. If you’re living for work, rather than working to live, you need to take a step back and review your options.
It’s now been two years since those holidays I took in 2017. I don’t miss getting away because I love what I do. I don’t get work burn out and I am self employed and have been for eight years now. Get your work life balance right and you’ll never need that week away again just to escape the 9-5.
Finding that balance and letting go of work for work’s sake is essential. Life is about more than working and that’s true even if you love what you do. You still need balance. You still need other focus in your life. And if your work lifestyle doesn’t allow for that, something needs to change because it is unsustainable. Noone will thank you when you’re too physically or mentally exhausted to work productively anymore.
That said, I am not a stranger to burn out. In my time as an employee for other people, mostly in London, I experienced it quite a lot, from long and depressing commutes in and out of the city to 8 hour days with no breaks, to the souless workload of a secretary working in industries I had no interest in because it paid the bills and got me those material things that just don’t interest me any more.
By the time I quit work and opted for University at 35 I was mentally and physically quite broken and by the time I left University I had become completely disillusioned with the fashion industry full stop – an industry I hadn’t even started work in. I had reached that snapping point and was prepared for self employment doing my version of fashion the way I wanted to do it. I wanted to be happy doing what I was doing. Not always having to out do everyone else. It’s okay to be good, and not great. That was the lightbulb moment. That was the break I needed.
Of course it comes with sacrifices. Money mostly. By opting to turn my back on mainstream fashion employment as a career I never stood a chance of making much, but I have learned to live my life very differently and that includes a slow and escalating disinterest in material things. That has made me a happier and more content person, without a doubt. I need less money therefore the pressure to earn as much is reduced. And yet I love my job more. I am proud that I have stayed true to it when I could have jacked it in for a 9-5 with more money. I like that I have stuck by my principles no matter what. It is at the least, honest.
I have learned to source income from several hustles to keep things interesting. Like many self employed people, one income stream is never enough. I have hustles (of a kind) and all that matters at the end of the day is that the bills are being paid and I’m not in debt. Being debt free is a good destressor. Money is one thing I do not worry about.