Episode 18

Episode 18: Not Working Is Not Self-Care


What you’ll learn in this episode:

There’s this buzzword going around in the industry that I’m sure most of you have heard, and it’s about this idea that taking time off work is self-care.

Have you ever thought about taking time away from your business for your self-care?

Did you know that you can actually make not working part of your strategy? You can use it to rejuvenate and unwind, and it’s guaranteed to get your creative juices flowing more than they ever have before.

Today, I go through the practical steps that you can take to fill your calendar with days dedicated to not working while maintaining, and even growing, your business.

Here’s a glance at this episode:

  • Not working is part of your business success strategy. If it isn’t, it should be.
  • If you don’t fully commit to not working, it can make your off time much less effective.
  • You’re going to hear that you’re either working or you’re not working. In fact, you can do both.
  • You don’t have to drop money to step out of your routine. You can do it at home.

Mentioned in this episode:

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Boston Business Women

Moroccan Magic


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Work/Connect with me:

10K Accelerator

Business and Rejuvenation Retreat

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[01:00] Jessica: Well, hello, everyone, and welcome back to the practical mindset podcast. This is Jess Miller, and I’m so excited to have you all here this week to talk about one of my favorite topics, and not favorite topics, and that is the topic of not working and self-care.

[01:20] Self-care has become one of these buzzwords in the industry. It’s become a buzzword for people in general, it absolutely has become a buzzword for business owners and entrepreneurs, and we hear it thrown all over the airwaves as something that we should do, something that we have to take a break out of our normal routine to do, and the idea that it’s essential if we want to function as a thriving human being, we need to make sure that we incorporate self-care. Now, I’m not here to say that we don’t need self-care in our lives, but having it be this special thing that is a luxury that we only get some of the time is something that I do not subscribe to. On top of that, thrown into that mix is this concept that not working is actually a self-care activity. I’m here to tell you that I don’t think that not working is self-care. I know that there are some people that are listening to this that totally disagree with me that it is self-care, but I want you to stay with me here.

[02:37] I don’t think it’s something that we have to carve out of our business, and make this special event to fill us up, that happens outside of the business and success that we’re creating, like it is this thing that is sort of over here on the side, this luxury that is not contained within our business, that we get to do some of the time, if we are lucky enough to fit it in – like it is outside of our business strategy. I want to offer that I think that it’s actually a piece of the success strategy, that not working is a piece of a overall success plan and strategy that you implement in your business. It’s part of your business strategy and the strategy for your work, and for your success, and that not working is essential to create success and momentum, and results, not a self-care routine that we do as a feel good activity outside of our business.

[03:39] In 2021, I committed to myself that I was going to take a business retreat every quarter. I had this foresight that I wanted to step outside of my business, outside of my usual routine, and I wanted to go and take a retreat. When this started, my insight was, I was going to go, and I was going to go away and for three days, I was going to do nothing but work, I had no responsibilities, I didn’t have to worry about this feeling “I’m not spending time with my family” or “I need to think about what’s for dinner.” I was going to go, and I was going to work until midnight every night, and those were going to be my retreats. What I found was that I would leave those three days feeling more depleted, more behind, and with less inspiration and energy than I had before I went into it. So, I started to change this up.

[04:45] I was like “there’s got to be something wrong here.” So, I changed my retreat, my business plan, my business for those times outside of this container of my usual routine of working on my business. I changed those to be more “not working business retreats.” So, what I basically did was I looked at this time and I decided “what would I create if I was going to truly go on a retreat somewhere and I was going to not work? How would I create this retreat?” So, I really dug in and I created this retreat where I went up into Maine for several days, I planned out what my itinerary was going to look like, I planned out what I was going to fill my day with, what delight I was going to put in there, and what kind of things I was going to eat. I really put the focus on the not working pieces and what it would look like if it was going to completely fill me up. What I found is that during that time of intentionally not working, and after the retreat was over, I had more insights, more energy, more breakthrough thinking, and more creativity than I have ever experienced in a concentrated period of time before, that, by my not working as part of my business strategy, I was creating more success, more momentum, more incredible ideas, and I was feeling more energized and centered, and really in the flow, and powerful, than I had ever experienced.

[06:35] Now, it dawned on me that this isn’t a new concept for me in my business. This isn’t something new, because I have been working with clients to help them not work in their business as part of their business strategy for a long time. Many of my clients have come to me with a dream or a desire for one thing or another where they have wanted to step outside of their usual business routine and do something different, where they were “not working” but they wanted their business to continue to thrive, they wanted to keep going, but they didn’t know how to do that or how to think about that, or how to really make that happen in a way that it would be successful.

[07:25] Most recently, one of my clients in particular, her name is Kristina Tsipouras Miller. She wanted to take some time, and she experienced the same phenomenon when she took maternity leave earlier this year. Kristina is the CEO of several companies, maybe many of them you probably heard of the companies are such as Moroccan Magic, Boston Business Women, The Startup Queen, and Coachspace. She was having her first child and she wanted to take a true maternity leave. Now, in the entrepreneurial world, it’s very different from corporate where there’s a structure and there’s maybe a process and a formula, and a procedure for taking time off. When you are an entrepreneur, as many of you know, you have to create that for yourself, and part of this is really thinking about “how do I carve out this time for myself to not work in the container, and the idea of my whole business plan? How do I think of this time of not working as part of my overall business plan?” So, Kristina and I worked together to really dig in and get clear about why she was taking this time, what she wanted to create from it, what it was going to look like, what success around that would be, how would that impact her business, what would her business get from her being able to successfully not work as part of this business plan for the period of time that she intentionally chose?

[09:05] I am happy to report that not only did she take the entire summer to spend time with her family to heal, to be with her newborn son, and to really embrace all of the power of not working, but her businesses have really thrived from this place of her getting clear and knowing what she wanted to create from that space, and letting herself expand and have that luxurious time, and that creativity. She now has more energy and more momentum, and more clarity, around where she’s taking her business, and she has been able to not only sustain her growth and her revenue, but she was even able to come up with different ways for her to catapult herself and her businesses into the next level.

[10:00] So when I experienced, first-hand, most recently, this experience on my own not working retreat, I realized how powerful and how important it is that we understand the magnitude of how much the not working time in our business is essential to create overall success, and that it is not this special thing that we carve out as self-care that we do every once in awhile, that we sometimes hold in our head as something that we have to attain or we have to graduate to, or as this milestone that we get to do after we’ve done everything else, or we’ve arrived at some other place. It is actually a part of the success strategy of your business. The more that you dial up not working as an intentional piece of how you show up in your business, the more powerful it is.

[11:08] Now, I want to also mention, a side note, that many of you have, I’m sure, tried to take time where you’re not working, and it hasn’t been this powerful experience. I will tell you that many people are really deeply rooted in this belief that not working is not synonymous with having a thriving business. When we think of the concept of not being in the doing of our business, in not “working,” like tapping the keyboard, checking off the list, doing all the to do’s, that we think we are actually not producing. That, deep down inside of us, when we step into a space of not working, we are doing it from a place of disbelief. We are not really bought into the idea that not working is going to give us the results, going to allow for the space for all of the magic and the expansion in our business to happen. So, when we go into that not working, we’re kind of half in and half out. We’re not fully committed. So, this manifests in a couple of ways.

[12:20] Number one – it can manifest in it taking a very long time for us to disconnect from this identity or this being of working in our business. Have any of you ever experienced this? You take off a week of vacation, or you take off a week to go someplace or do something, and it takes you like four out of the seven days just to disconnect? The reason why that happens is because we are still firmly in the belief, in our brains, that not working is not something we should be doing. We’re not viewing it as part of the success story, so we’re clinging on to that belief, and we’re holding on to it so that we can’t let go and fully immerse ourselves, and let ourselves go into that space. So, it takes us a really long time to actually get into that place of not working, and it doesn’t gain the same traction as it would if we were in the belief that what we were doing, our not working, was actually part of the success strategy.

[13:28] The other part of the not working that sometimes happens outside of it taking a really long time, is that when we are truly not bought into this idea that we are not going to work, what we end up doing is we think we have to work so much in this time frame that we end up actually taking that same identity that’s in our business all the time, bringing it to this other space, and essentially working in are not working vacation, in our not working time. So, then we end our three days/week, whatever, feeling more depleted and more exhausted than we did before we went in, because we actually never gave ourselves time to truly not work. That was, as I mentioned, my experience when I first started doing these retreats at the beginning of the year. My “not working” time, the coming out of my usual routine time, was actually more working, in a traditional sense, trying to get through that To Do List in hyperdrive, and I would end up trying to smash it all into these three days, and I would come out working and being more exhausted than ever.

[14:54] So, you might be sitting here saying “hey I’ve tried to do this and it just doesn’t work or there’s never enough time” and I want to say, if that’s you, I get it. I see you. I was you, and it is not your fault, because this concept of not working being part of your business working plan is totally atypical. You’re not going to hear that out there, and you’re going to hear this concept that either you’re working or you’re not working, and if you’re not working then you’re taking away from your business, and if you’re working then you’re taking away from your personal life, until you’re caught between a rock and a hard place with that all-or-nothing thinking. I’m here to tell you, you can have both. You can do both things and it can feel amazing.

[15:48] Here’s what I want to share with you is how I broke this down. I want to share with you the idea of how to schedule your retreat, how to plan out your retreat with delight, and how to really step into that retreat mode in a snap. I actually had a friend who used to do this amazingly. We would say “it’s the weekend” or “next week is Christmas vacation” or whatever holiday vacation, and within three seconds flat, as soon as that clock rang 4PM on Friday, she was in not working mode, because she really bought into this concept. So, I want to teach you how to be able to step into that retreat mode after you’ve planned out your retreat and you’ve scheduled it.

[16:] Here’s what it looks like for me. Number one, when are you going to schedule this retreat? I really want you to think about if you were going to step outside of your business routine into your not working container, when could you do that? When could you put it on your calendar? For me, I committed, in 2021, to doing this once a quarter. I have to tell you, my heart just soared at the idea that I was going to not work for a certain period of time. I was going to intentionally step outside of my container, I was going to make it really deliberate, and I was going to not work. I was going to have this working container, I’m not working. So, I did it every quarter. When do you want to do it? What would feel awesome to you? Some people I know do it once a month. They carve out a day. Sometimes, people do it twice a year. Whatever it is for you, I want you to schedule it. I want you to think about and decide right now, “when can I schedule this?”

[17:54] Number two is, I want you to plan out your retreat with delight. Here is how this looks for you: When I finally realized that the not working was part of my business plan, it was part of my success strategy, and I went into planning this retreat, this step outside of my usual routine, from a place of delight, all of these amazing things bubbled up to the top. All of the things about “how was I going to spend my day? What was I going to nourish myself with? What was going to be on the agenda?” Things popped up for me, like reading a book that was not a self-help book, it was not a business building book, it was some romantic book about someone running off to Italy, or whatever it was. It was really like something fun and felt like it was a step outside of the norm. It looked like me going downtown and doing my work at a coffee shop, sitting outside with a latte at 2 o’clock on a “work day.” It looked like me picking some fun movies to watch in the evening where I could just chill out and let myself go, and just sit in really cozy pajamas. I remember picking my most comfortable outfit that I was going to wear when I was going to watch these movies.

[19:28] So, delight showed up for me in all different ways. It also looked like nourishing my body with amazing food. I figured out “where am I going to order in from, what am I going to cook?” The same way, if somebody gave me an itinerary for a retreat that I was going to go on where I didn’t have control over it, what would delightful look like to me? That’s how I planned my retreat. One of the ways you know if you’re on the right track with this, because I want to say that a lot of people don’t do this on a usual basis, and because we think that this is somewhat luxurious and not part of the business plan, sometimes it’s hard for us to get into that. I want you to notice how you feel when you think about it. When I think about sitting in a comfortable pair of cotton pants and a shirt, with an amazing book and a latte, I want to jump out of my skin. When I think about going and sitting at a coffee shop, and bringing my journal with me, and sitting there, and just seeing what comes up, I’m ready to run out the door right now and go. It’s the best thing I could ever imagine.

[20:42] In my body, it feels like expansion. It feels delightful. I want you to notice that because, when you’re feeling that, you are on the right track. The third thing is I want you to be aware that after you put this on your calendar, and you plan it all out, and now you’re ready to go, you need to intentionally step into this not working business retreat mode, that there is this moment where you are going to step out in faith, that you’re going to do this thing, that you are going to not work, in belief that it is going to affect your success and your bottom line in huge ways that you cannot even imagine. When you go to actually take that thing or press the button to schedule it, or really step into it, your brain is going to show up and it’s going to be like “you are crazy. I don’t know Jess Miller. You should stop listening to her podcast. I don’t know what she sold you on,” but trust me here that that step forward in faith, to try it, and to do it, and to have faith that it is going to create all of the wonderful things that you want, is essential for making it happen. I have a hunch, if you are listening to this podcast and you are leaning in and you are thinking “Oh, my gosh. I have been waiting for someone to tell me that not working is actually part of the business plan and to help give me some practical and tactical reasons why. Finally, someone is doing this,” I want you to know that things will come out of this, and things will be created. I have a hunch that you already know that’s the case, even if you’re not 100% sold on it, and you don’t exactly know what that’s going to look like, but your heart is calling you to it. There’s something inside of you that’s like “yes. It’s resonating.” It’s that like “hell yes” energy I always talk about, and that you’re trusting that intuition to go forward.

[23:00] The other thing I want to say is: this does not have to be overly complicated. You don’t need to drop hundreds of dollars, you don’t need to have a second home in the woods, you can step outside of your routine in your container without ever leaving your house. The way that you can do this is you could create the structure where you are to allow you to just step out of your routine. Maybe that looks like you block your calendar for a few days and you think about what things you’re going to put on your schedule that feel delightful that are not working. Maybe you order in certain lunch for those days, or you tell your husband or partner, or whomever, to give you the time during the day to just be home by yourself, or maybe someone to watch your kids so you’re truly in your own space, and you could kind of have the run of the house. It doesn’t need to be complicated. It just needs to really embrace the delight and the not working concept that comes from stepping out of your routine and your container and into this place where you can truly dive in and marinate, and disconnect, and spend this time to let yourself and your creativity expand.

[24:24] Let me share with you, when I was on my last retreat, and I went to the coffee shop, and I brought my journal with me, and I brought my book to read with me, it felt so delightful. I felt so light that I sat down at that table with my coffee and my books in a beautiful space feeling incredible. This was the best decision I ever made. As I started to marinate and think about things, just to be there, not working, so much wisdom came up, through, and out of me in that moment. It looked like creating several ideas and flushing out future episodes of this podcast. It also came up like fleshing out a chapter for the book I’m going to write. It also came out as the inspiration and the pieces of the VIP day that I just held with my client- actually with Kristina Tsipouras Miller that I told you about earlier. All of that came to the top. Here’s how powerful that is: It’s so powerful because, through that not working, I’ve created so much goodness that is going to impact so many people. All of you listening to this podcast, the people that are going to read my book when it’s done. Kristina, as we had our VIP day, and she came up with her next-level offers, and the things that she’s creating in her businesses, and the community that that’s going to touch. I even had more ideas of things bubbling up about different clients that popped into my head, or my family, and things that we’re going to do. So much came up as it related to not only my personal life, but to things that I had fused right into my business.

[26:32] It’s so cool about that creativity and that inspiration, because it’s this quiet wisdom. Sometimes, it hits you like a lightning bolt, but, sometimes, it just needs the space for you to expand and allow it to come to the surface, and really come into life. It is so hard to do that when we are in the doing routine that we have to work all the time. The second we let ourselves free of that construct, we understand that not working truly is, from a very practical way, the way that we tap into all of that wisdom, we can then do it very intentionally. Sometimes, we have found that that wisdom does just sort of pop up in other places, like we could be doing things and it’s not necessarily intentional, meaning it’s hard, sometimes, to find that thing, find that wisdom bubbling up.

[27:33] Here’s what I want to offer: if you embrace not working as truly a part of your success strategy, if you buy into, and believe, that it is the thing that’s going to help propel your business forward, your ability to construct that container for yourself, to step into it intentionally, to dial it up just like my friend at 4PM on a Friday, with the full-on belief and that bought-in commitment, that what you’re going to do in that space and time, how you’re going to show up, is going to give you the results that you want. Guess what? It will. You will be able to do that with consistency and with intentionality, and the byproduct is not only all that success that’s coming into your business from the space, but, guess what? There is self-care wrapped in there, too, because one of the number one reasons that we gravitate towards self-care is for that energetic rejuvenation. It’s for that feeling of disconnection. It’s the thing that we go toward to allow us to refill ourselves, and we’ve gotten into this bad habit of thinking that it can’t be part of our usual routine, it can’t be part of our business, it can’t be part of our success. I’m here to tell you, you can build it into your usual business plan, you can carve it out as a step outside of your usual container and what you do on a daily basis, that it can, quite literally, be a practical piece of your success strategy that you put into place and tap into, and dial up, whenever you want, and you’re going to walk away not having to sacrifice one thing for the other. It’s not this all-or-nothing thing. It’s that you can have it all. You can not work and have it be working for you in your business toward whatever success that you want to create.

[29:46] So what do I want you to do right now? I want you to head over to your calendar, I want you to find the time to schedule and put something like this right in there, I want you to go plan it out, I want you to really tap into that delight. What makes you feel like you are expanding? What makes you feel like when you hear it, you’re like “yes, I want more of that. That is it. That is where I want to go.” Don’t hold yourself back and don’t censor it. One of my coaches and I, we always laugh that this could look like watching The Holiday or The Proposal on TV at night, because that’s what lights you up and feels good and lets you disconnect. It could be some like chick-y movie, or it could be like sitting out on your porch just with a cup of coffee. It doesn’t matter. Whatever it is that allows you to expand, what does that look like? I want you to really plan it out, and then I want you to think of yourself stepping into that retreat mode. I want you to get excited for your not working time, and I want you to commit to, when it comes time for you to actually step into that, that you’re going to step forward in faith, and that you’re going to literally move over that threshold into the next version of you – that version of you that knows that not working is not self-care. It is an essential part of the success strategy that is going to take you to your next level in business, your next level in life, and beyond.

[31:35] If you’re ready to change the way you think about and show up in your business, and are ready to take more time off this holiday season while still making money, come join us in my private Facebook group for a special holiday bonus. Inside the group, we will be sharing what is one of my clients’ favorite topics – how to create, implement, and communicate a profitable holiday road map so you can take time off with ease and create a win-win situation for both you and your clients that they will be thanking you for. Click the link in the show notes to join us or search “Jessica Miller breakthrough coaching” in the Facebook search.

Until next week, everyone. See you soon.