Whatís the most common self-fulfilling prophecy among independent professionals' ďWith my demanding clients and two-digit bank balance, thereís no way I can take a vacation this year.Ē
Have you put yourself in this position every year since you became a free agent' You really shouldnít, because you need time off to rest, recharge, and get to know your family and yourself again. Thatís why we have put together a six-step programme to help you beat the vacation avoidance syndrome and have your day in the sun.
Budget for time off
Itís pretty simple, really. Decide how many weeks of vacation you want to take this year, say six. Subtract the weeks of vacation from 52, which tells you how many weeks are available for generating income, in this case 46. Figure out how much money you need to gross, including vacation expenses, say $100,000. Divide $100,000 by 46 and you know you need to gross $2,174 per week.
This scheme may sound simplistic, but if you focus on your goal, youíll be on your way to a guilt-free six weeks of vacation.
Your clients wonít try to persuade you to take a vacation, and your credit cards wonít declare a holiday on interest payments just so you can hit the beach. The only way your vacation is going to happen is if you make an appointment right now ' with your family, your travelling companion or yourself ' to get out the calendar and choose dates for your time off.
Let clients wait
Many clients assume consultants and contractors are as available as running water, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Itís up to you to change this perception. The next time you negotiate a contract, let the client know when youíll be taking time off. If the client canít tolerate an interruption in your services, arrange for an associate or subcontractor to cover for you. If you or your client believes the client canít cope for a few weeks without your personal attention, itís time to change how you do business.
Lots of free agents get this far in the process of vacation planning, but then never actually plan the vacation. Commit yourself to your time off by actually buying air tickets, reserving a lakeside cabin and putting down a deposit for that hot-air balloon ride. Youíll start to feel lighter as soon as you make the calls.
How, exactly, are you going to get everything done before that vacation' Minimise the stress by creating a day-by-day plan that begins tomorrow and ends on the eve of your vacation. Donít try to shoehorn a monthís worth of work into the last week before your time off. In fact, your final week should have the lightest schedule so you can attend to the inevitable last-minute snags.
Did you think weíd let you sneak your cell phone and laptop into your luggage' No way. If youíre on call, youíre not really on vacation. Let your clients know that youíll be entirely offline, make arrangements for colleagues to handle emergencies and give yourself a break. You deserve it.
For more advice, log on to www.monsterindia.com