View of the ocean in Kauai

Some Time Off

I’m taking a sabbatical – some time for me to unplug and hopefully get out of the way.

Photo by Chris Free

I’ve been helping build Chromatic full time for nearly 11 years now. In that time, our little shop has grown into a fully operational (and dare I say, reputable) web agency. By basically any measure, it is a success. It has definitely exceeded my wildest expectations.

So what’s this all about then?

In these past 11 years, Chromatic has become my identity in many ways. Despite my supportive family, my hobbies, friends, etc. Chromatic has always been front and center. My fear of failure has driven me like an arrow to work nonstop. If I’m totally honest, work/Chromatic has been my drug of choice – an addiction of sorts.

I’d say for a time, this was necessary. We’ve always been a bootstrapped kind of place – success in the early days required intense focus and hustle. Now that we’ve achieved stability with a sizable team, and have great people in the right positions, the intensity has leveled off. For me, adjusting to this has been a real challenge. Hence the rub.

When I wake up in the morning, I’m immediately checking Slack and email to see what needs my attention. It’s always been this way. I’ve made sure to have my eyes and ears on all things the company is up to. From marketing, to project/account management, down to pushing code and fixing bugs…if we’re putting the Chromatic stamp on it, chances are I’ve inserted myself into it somehow.

Since the beginning and through to today, my “always on” relationship with work has, well, been always on. I’ve never really unplugged from the business or from the day to day.

Any time there’s a fire, or a deadline, or a proposal that needs finishing, chances are, I’m in the thick of it. Or minimally worrying about it.

When I’ve taken a vacation, the work has always come with me. Always. My laptop always at my side. Just a direct message away from the work. One click away from the hustle.

Some anecdotes that I’m not proud of:

When I hiked and camped the Kalalau trail a few years back, it was mostly in an attempt to truly disconnect. Unfortunately, I spent nearly the entire trip checking if I had cell service so that I could catch up on what was happening at work. Not because the company needed my help, but because I needed the dopamine hit of solving some problem or clearing something up for someone. I legitimately could not let go; chill.

4 years ago when my wife was in recovery after delivering our daughter, I was helping launch a website and troubleshoot some post-launch issues from the waiting room. No bullshit – in the hospital, taking calls, and directing the team.

Looking back, I’m ashamed. No one demanded this of me, I put ridiculous expectations on myself and refused to trust that the team would sort it out without me. Worse yet, instead of doing the work I should’ve been doing (working on the business, not for), I was making myself a dependency for anything to move forward.

This is madness.

I’m taking some time off so that I can kick this bad habit – for me and for the company.

I’ve become a roadblock on so many things because I’ve insisted on being involved. Because it makes me feel good; important; needed. With so much to weigh in on each day, things languish, lose steam…

This is hurting the company. It’s unhealthy for me.

Here’s how I’m going to force myself to let go:

  • Chromatic email: shut off (Mark and Dave will still have the keys – I just won’t.)
  • Slack access: shut off.
  • 1Password credentials for all things Chromatic: shut off
  • All meetings: removed from my calendar
  • All decisions in my court: delegated

Chromatic is in great hands. Dave and Mark are the best partners a guy could ask for. Our team and culture is as strong as ever. Our production team is fully booked for months out. Our revenue numbers are way ahead of our targets. Our BizDev pipeline is strong. What better time to take a step back, learn some healthier digital habits, and recharge my batteries?

6 weeks isn’t a very long time in the grand scheme of things, but it sure feels scary to me right now. I hope to come back refreshed. More so, I can’t wait to see how the company has changed and improved in my absence.

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