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Tracy Lawrence

Claiming My Time Off

Published 2 months ago • 3 min read

Confession: I take 1 week off work every month. Maybe that sounds like a humble brag but sometimes it eats me up. It feels so indulgent compared to my workload as a founder.

Honestly, I love taking 1 week off each month. I sometimes spend it playing and sometimes I spend it “working” but differently. I’ll attend amazing founder events or consciousness retreats.

It feels aligned with my growth trajectory which is 3 steps forward, 1 step still.

Being still helps me integrate all my forward momentum. It gives me space to reflect. It helps me rapidly transform. It also gives me the space to go have a zany life experience that adds zest to my learning, writing, and coaching.

So here's the challenge: I'm now almost at full coaching capacity (more on this soon). Is it better for me to give up more time to work more and serve more founders?

There’s a voice in my head that says, “Well everyone else works 40 hour+ weeks 4 weeks a month, that’s the ‘right’ call.”

It’s not dissimilar from how my clients assess situations. Many coaching sessions begin with the question of, “Is this the ‘right’ decision?”

Keep in mind that my clients and I are discussing the toughest problems. The easiest ones are solved by individual contributors, their managers tackle the harder ones, and the most difficult ones bubble up to the CEO.

And the ones she can’t tackle on her own? They plop into our coaching session.

We’re rarely dealing with the black and white, “there’s a right-or-wrong-answer.”

The problem with the right-or-wrong framework is that it tends to rely on an external judge. It’s usually an imaginary person or group who the founder polls (in their mind or in real life) for the rightness of a decision. This puts the decision’s validity in the hands of other people.

Over time, I’ve seen founders burn out after making 100s if not 1000s of decisions based on external rightness.

✅ Hire this sales leader because he’s got the “right” credentials, even though he’s not a culture fit.

✅ Chase that customer segment because my investors said it was the “right” market opportunity, even though I don’t care at all about serving them.

✅ Build the “right” culture that will attract the best talent, even though the culture bores or repels me.

Eventually, those decisions add up to a business that no longer aligns with the founder.

A better framework for making decisions isn’t right or wrong, it’s aligned or misaligned.

Reframe: “Is this the aligned decision?”

Aligned with what? You, your values, and the kind of action that would make you proud of yourself.

Alignment is much easier to gauge in the moment. Rightness is harder to determine ahead of the outcomes.

As I ponder the alignment of keeping my week off, I had a consult with a potential new client. She wants to start this week, my week off. I nervously shared with her that I take one week off a month, worried she would laugh and leave.

Instead she said, “That seems so healthy! Let’s start the week after.”

Doink.

I work with stressed out founders to run experiments in scale, health, and balance. I better be aligned with that!

How do we test for alignment?

  1. Pick the most important values for the decision. Transformation, community, joy, etc. – pick the 1 or 2 that matter the most to you.
  2. What does an aligned decision feel like in the body?
    Think of the last decision you made that felt in accordance with your values. For me, it was the choice to sign up for the Aletheia coaching program that I’m currently in. In my body, it feels like an expansion in my lungs, warmth in my chest, and I feel a smile on my lips. This is a working template for the physical expression of alignment.
  3. Compare the outcome of each decision. I imagine working more and having less time to travel. It feels like two rods moving down the sides of my torso, ironing me in place. There’s some constriction. If I guard my time and continue to travel and plan for that, I see a floral pattern (makes sense since I’m going to Mexico soon!) and bright colors. I feel excitement. If I compare the outcome to the value of transformation, guarding space in my life feels key at this stage.

Once I have the template for an aligned decision in my body, I get to test it out in daily life with micro decisions. This is a kind of “decision meditation” practice, which is to sit with a decision and draw inwards to feel the decision reflected in the physical and emotional body.

Some of my clients call this intuition. Whatever we call it, it’s an important way of looking at a decision but not the only one. Of course, logical discernment is another, more standard way of evaluating a problem. But it often lacks the emotional, magical components that intuition does. Having multiple lenses to look at decisions help us see different outcomes.

Alignment has helped me claim the way I designed my life. It forces me to dig deep and go back to the reason I laid out my work this way.

Dig deep, find that alignment, and watch the magic arise.

What kind of decision in your life is being framed as right vs wrong?

How differently would that decision be with the alignment framework?

Let me know if this resonated for you!

113 Cherry St #92768, Seattle, WA 98104-2205
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Tracy Lawrence

@coachtracylawrence

I help entrepreneurs and leaders find simplicity and joy at work through mindful, emotional intelligence, and culture hacks. Use techniques I've trained top CEOs to do in the amount of time it takes to order a coffee ⭐️ Exited Founder turned Executive Coach 📈 Raised $40M and managed 100s of employees 🧘‍♀️

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