From the desk of Jayne Battey

“I am so sorry. We are fully committed through the end of February.”

Those were the words I rehearsed in my bedroom, over breakfast, at the gym and in my office. I needed to rehearse these words so I would actually be able to say them into the phone to real live clients. I hate saying No. I needed a work-around. So  “I-am-so-sorry-we-are-fully-committed-thru-the-end-of-February” became my mantra to avoid the feelings of guilt (ok, I still felt guilty) and the fear (ok, I still felt a little fearful).

I have been an entrepreneur for nearly all of my career. And as a general rule, entrepreneurs are not good at saying “no.” We say YES! And we say it with great enthusiasm and passion, because every “yes” leads to a new adventure and opportunity. Except sometimes too much “yes” leaves you with a bit too much action and not enough reflection. So as winter descended on the farm last December, I took a hint from nature and decided it was time to retreat, rest and refuel. I had spent a lot of time taking care of others; I needed to take care of myself.

And it was the smartest thing I’ve done in a long time. My self-imposed time-out gave me time to reflect. It gave me time to read and be curious; to recharge and reconnect with family and friends; to meet new people and to be a listener. And it gave me time to think through what I really needed and wanted to say “yes” to going forward, and what it was time to let go of because it didn’t serve me or my family or my team any longer.

So was this time off indulgent, a luxury? Or, as a friend of mine suggested, “a first-world problem.” I am sure it was a bit of all of this.  But now, a month back to working full speed ahead, I am certain this was time well spent. Like any good time-out, I have come back to my work more enthusiastic, more measured and more certain of my vision. Not only am I benefiting personally and professionally, but my team has had more opportunity to step up and explore new edges of their comfort zone as well. It’s amazing how capable a team you find out you have when you stop being the hero.

In her new critically acclaimed book, How We Work, Leah Weiss writes about self-compassion and how so many of us fail to heed the warning signs that we need to take better care of ourselves. We need to eat lunch, ask for help, be a friend to ourselves, and sometimes—in my case—we need to give ourselves a good time out. And the benefits are multi-faceted and lasting. As Leah writes,

 “Self-compassion engenders resilience; it empowers you to be nimble and flexible, and gives you the ability to identify problems, accept negative feedback from others, and change habits that no longer serve you.”

Sounds like the obvious choice to me.