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Taking Time to Take Time

Yvonne-head-squareby Yvonne DiVita 

 "I'm going on vacation that week," a colleague told me in response to a request for a lunch meeting with him, a few years ago. I was after a deadline for the following week.  

"You do vacations?" I said, with a twinge of regret in my voice. "I haven't had a vacation in forever!" 

"You're kidding, right?" he said, in his sternest voice. "Vacations are essential if you're in business for yourself. Every business owner needs time off, but especially small business owners. When you eat, drink and sleep the business, it begins to wear on you. Without a vacation, you will not be an effective CEO." 

His words hit home. For the last 20 years, as I've worked to grow my businesses (yes, I've had more than one), I've pushed vacation time aside. I thought I was being responsible. I thought I was obligated to always be 'there' - wherever that was (online, in a meeting, at an event). The advice from my colleague weighed on my mind for several days. 

"What is being on-call 24-7, all week, every week, doing to my business?" I began to wonder. "Am I doing myself any favors by over-extending myself day after day, week after week?" 

I began to talk to other small business owners and I discovered something amazing. The most successful entrepreneurs, those who were happy in their business and growing year after year, were the ones who took at least two weeks off, every year. They didn't just unplug and drink tea in their backyard; they went off to a vacation resort; they traveled by plane or car to places far away, and did what most Americans do on a regular basis - they enjoyed the experience of being separated from the 'business'.  Beautiful rainbow

When I was a stay-at-home mom, we took vacations. Memories of those weeks at the beach or traveling to a historical landmark with the kids came rushing back to me, when I began to consider taking a vacation after not having done so in many years. I remembered the relaxation; the anticipation; the laughter. I remembered some of the troubles and tears, too, but in retrospect, they were minor - they actually added flavor to the overall memory of spending time away from home, with the family. 

I knew it was time to get back to that - to find a way to take time off! 

I take vacations yearly now. I unwind and refresh while on vacation. I don't unplug completely, though I probably should. I take my laptop - I check email - but, I do it when it's convenient. I do it when I'm not basking in the sun on the beach, or trekking up a mountain to see a volcano, or just relaxing at the hotel restaurant over excellent food I didn't have to prepare, drinking my pina colada. I check in with the pet sitters and my kids but only to say hi! Business becomes something I do the 'other' 50 weeks of the year. 

The truth is - taking a vacation, whether it's three days, a whole week, or longer, is a chance to revitalize your energy and focus. After time away, you return to the office with new perspective. The office and everyone in it are new and shiny. You see things in a totally different light. Different in marvelous ways! 

Returning to the office after planned time away, you remember what inspired you to be the CEO of your company, and you get back into the fun of it... as if you were starting over, again. That's what I remember year after year, now. That's how I plan and take time - with the expectation that I will return to my business with new passion, dedication, and likely a lot of new ideas worth discussing with my team. 

Viva la vacation! And, to that end, in keeping with our continued focus on small businesses throughout the U.S., I would like to share the following graphic from Visa Business - in celebration of the 50th Anniversary of National Small Business Week.

This infographic highlights eye-opening facts about small business owners and shows the importance of small business trends. Enjoy!!!


I am blogging on behalf of Visa Business and received compensation for my time from Visa for sharing my views in this post, but the views expressed here are solely mine, not Visa’s. Visit to take a look at the reinvented Facebook Page: Well Sourced by Visa Business. The Page serves as a space where small business owners can access educational resources, read success stories from other business owners, engage with peers, and find tips to help businesses run more efficiently. Every month, the Page will introduce a new theme that will focus on a topic important to a small business owner’s success. For additional tips and advice, and information about Visa’s small business solutions, follow @VisaSmallBiz and visit


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If you're lucky enough to love what you do, it can be really hard to walk away, but that's really the point isn't it. Work to live, not to live to work as they say. And yeah, coming back and feeling refreshed isn't just a bonus- it's a must!

Ingrid King

Boy, did this hit a nerve! I'm about to take a long weekend "vacation" for the first time in several years, and I'm already getting twitchy about only doing very minimal check ins on email, blog and social media sites - and yet, I know I desperately need this break. Your article is helping my resolution to make vacations priority again in my life - thank you!

Carol Bryant

Oh so true and I have my October vacation planned already yay! All work and no play.... we must unplug.

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