How I Decided to Take Six Months Off

How I Decided to Take Six Months Off

And the emotional aftermath and self-discovery that ensued.

Friends, LimeRed (they/them) is 18 next year. They can officially vote. Do you know what they did? They voted for me to take a break. A long one. Like for months. Six of them.

There’s a longer backstory here, and it goes like this: In 2021 — during emotional breakdown number 6,978,304 — Demetrio (pictured up top) looked at me and said: Why don’t you take a sabbatical?

 

Huh?

 

Do people do that? Can I do that? One of the reasons I started this company in 2004 was that I always wanted to control my schedule. But I was thinking day to day, not year to year.

The thought of leaving LimeRed had never occurred to me. Why would it? The past couple of years have been some of the best we’ve had, and the future looks bright. I am in love with all of our clients, and the work we do is meaningful and fun. We just launched our product, RediSets, and we’re thinking about bringing back our monthly event, Defy Convention.

Why would I leave now? I was convinced they needed me. Sure, they’re all grown up now and can pay their bills. They have a bank account and lots of friends. They’ll be ok without me seeing them every day, right?

 

After I thought about it and decided it was an OK idea, I got jazzed about all the new things I would do with this time. 

I made a list: 

  1. Write a book
  2. Take woodworking intensive
  3. Start a new company
  4. Learn how to weave
  5. Build a fireplace
  6. Redo my kitchen
  7. Spend countless hours on Redfin preparing to buy a new house

 

Yeah. Lists are fun, but this was a genuinely insane one. Even I was scared of it. (I am doing #3, BTW.)

I spent a good chunk of 2021 planning my departure and offloading most of my tasks to my incredible team. I hired an operations manager, brought Lina on full-time, and grew our contractor base. I put off delegating the big stuff because pressing client work and business came up. But as the year wound down, I had to face the reality that I had committed to taking this break and had to figure out how to prepare for it.

With a nudge from my patient, thoughtful, and detail-oriented business partner Demetrio, I dove into an “Emily’s Remaining Tasks” spreadsheet. I organized them by department, in a rainbow, because I am always me. 

 

Then something weird happened: the spreadsheet made me cry. 

 

Has a spreadsheet ever made you cry? Have you ever had to make a list of all the things you do and love to do, knowing the intention is to give them all away? And trust that the people taking over could do it all hopefully better than you? 

Assuming you like (love) what you do and your team, odds are, you’ll get emotional. (If not, then you DO need a break.)

I’ve been working in my field for 22 years. I’ve been working at LimeRed for almost 18. This work is all I know. My work here has so much meaning and takes care of my family, staff, contractors, and our families. I love coming to my office and interrupting Demetrio’s day with the next wild idea. I love meeting new people and helping them think about things differently.

 

It’s a strange feeling preparing to hand it all over to everyone else. 

 

The same day as ‘Cry Into a Spreadsheet Day,’ I went home and started obsessively purging different parts of my house. Now, friends, I hold on to weird stuff. I have a lot of hobbies, and I like building things, so YOU JUST NEVER KNOW about this piece of cardboard or this leftover molding. It’s an enormous task.

It felt great for my mental health to purge. And I remembered the last two times I felt and did the same thing: When my son was about to be born in 2015 and when my stepmom was dying in 2014. I realized I was nesting, preparing for something monumental and uncertain. This time, it’s both a birth and a death: The death of life as it has been for nearly two decades, and the birth of a new life and new way of doing things.

If you didn’t already know, on top of this change I also got married in October and my little family has grown by two. It’s change, on change, on change over here.

I’m excited to announce the soonish launch of my new company, Even Made (evenmadetrade.com), where we teach construction and renovation skills to folks left out of the trades. This has been my favorite thing to do for the last few years, and I’m quite good at it. I’m excited to build something new with my new business partners, Kelly and Racheal.

 

I’m also totally freaked out because I will have no structure, and I need some, so I’ve decided to try time blocking the day.

Here’s my plan: 

  1. Spend time every morning doing something I enjoy and am curious about
  2. Work on Even Made every day
  3. Make time to rest and take care of my physical and emotional well being
  4. Check-in on LimeRed every two weeks

This is the dream, right? To get your business to a point where you can take a big step back? I’m excited to take a break. I’m excited to see what else I can achieve. LimeRed isn’t going anywhere. You can find me here.

 

See you in July!

— Emily

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