For people who run their own small businesses, one of the hardest parts is making the conscious choice to turn work off from time to time. And that’s definitely something that Luke and I talk about a lot… particularly because it is SO challenging for us as a couple!
For those of you who don’t now how C&L began, I (Caitlin) started a photography business when I was a sophomore in high school who didn’t have the SLIGHTEST clue what I was doing. I also had no intention of ever getting into weddings. (Ha!) After second shooting my first wedding, I went to bed that night with certainty that I’d found my passion and discovered what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Because I started my business so young, two things were the case. 1. I had the flexibility with my time and income to hustle hardcore and work HARD before I had a lot of responsibilities, and 2. I got used to being able to work basically all the time to pursue my dreams and grow my business.
Those things were a blessing for me at the time. I believe that if I hadn’t had the flexibility to hustle and to work hard allllll the time, my business probably wouldn’t be where our business is today. However, the hard thing about this reality was that I got used to “running my own business” meaning “working all the time.” That’s been a habit I’ve been trying to kick for a long time, and it’s one that Luke and I have been talking about how to change now that we run this business together. Now, we have the added element of needing to make US time that isn’t BUSINESS time. Yes, we need to have meetings and dream about work. But, we also need to be able to shut our laptops, turn off our Gmail notifications, and get out of the house with the rule of not talking about our business for the night.
The other night, at Luke’s encouragement, we did just that. We shut off work, left our laptops at home (what a concept!!), ignored our inbox, and spent the afternoon together. No business. Just us. We had a few plans for the day, but enjoyed a free afternoon before heading to get pizza for dinner at our favorite spot. We then drove 20 minutes outside of town to the place we had one of our very first dates, which has truly become “our spot.” We’ve spent so much time at that spot over the time we’ve been together… we even got engaged there and took pictures there on our wedding day! Needless to say, this spot is one that brings us peace and joy and lets us breathe for a while.
Eating gluten free pizza at the same picnic table we’ve had countless dates and important moments at, next to my husband, watching a golden sunset over the lake on a perfect summer night, I was reminded just how important it is to take time away from work to be. Business owners, remember: Your work is not your life. You were not made to run your business 24/7, no matter HOW much you love it. Your life doesn’t revolve around your business… rather, your work should bring JOY and PURPOSE to your life. My challenge to you is to carve out time this month to shut work off, even for an afternoon. I’m confident you’ll return to your desk, your inbox and your clients refreshed and ready to serve them even better because you took care of yourself and stepped away for a bit. We plan on doing a better job of this in the coming months too… we’re with you in this. I want to be a business owner who knows how to balance… I don’t want to look back on my life in 50 years with regret that I never looked up from my laptop at the people I love and the life I’ve been given.