The gift everyone wants this Christmas.

Recently I sent a business contact an email.

I immediately received his automatic response which informed me that he would be on vacation until January 5th.

I thought to myself, “That must be awesome to take that much vacation. I wish I could do that!”

Then I remembered I can.

I work for myself now.

There’s no approval process for me to take days off. I’m an entrepreneur. I can take as much vacation as I want!

But that’s a bit of a myth, because when you work for yourself, you tend to take less vacation, not more. If you’re not careful, you end up working constantly. There’s no downtime because it’s not work time and home time, it’s just time. Add the phone in the mix and everyone is always available for work, not just entrepreneurs. Our phones make all of us on call like doctors only we don’t get paid like doctors. (And be honest, no one dies if you don’t answer a call.)

If you work for yourself, if you work for a big company, or if you’re out of work I know exactly what everyone in your life wants for Christmas this year – your presence.

Your husband? He wants your presence.

Your wife? She wants your presence.

Your kids? They want your presence.

Your girlfriend, your boyfriend, your father, your mother, your friend, your neighbor? They all want your presence.

Every day this gift becomes rarer and rarer. Can you remember the last time you had a full conversation with someone’s face, not just their forehead as they stared at their phone? Can you remember the last time someone was “all there” not just partially there because interacting with you wasn’t enough to hold their full attention? I have to leave my phone in the car when we go to dinner parties or I will be physically present but absent in every other way possible as I engage with the phone instead of anyone else.

Don’t miss Christmas because you’re working or you’re lost in your phone.

This year, give someone that rarest gift of all, your presence. No one else can give them that.

It costs nothing, but it’s worth everything.



  • David Mike
    Posted at 09:04h, 20 December Reply

    We have a rule at the dinner table. No devices. It is the one time that we can completely interact with no distractions. It isn’t always perfect because real is better than perfect, but there are no screens. Our phones have truly become an addiction and so putting it down is hard, but it’s worth it!
    Merry Christmas Jon! And to everyone else!

  • Sherri Adelman
    Posted at 09:11h, 20 December Reply

    I have friends who when they go out to dinner everyone places their phones in the middle of the table. First one to reach for their phone pays for the entire table! I love this idea. Look up people! Be present!

  • Debbie Davis
    Posted at 09:46h, 20 December Reply

    Jon – this is so insightful. You have such a gift for clarity, and for understanding how very difficult it is for entrepreneurial souls to stop thinking about work and really be “with” the people who are in the room with them. You are a blessing to others. Hope you have a wonderful holiday season with the people you love. You deserve it!!!

  • kathyfannon
    Posted at 11:31h, 20 December Reply

    I wrote a post on this same idea last week, “Lift Up Your Face and Live Life”. We’re missing too many moments in life by disengaging from the ones around us for the screen in front of us.

  • Camilla
    Posted at 20:05h, 20 December Reply

    Great post Jon! And I agree. We all need to pause and be present. The holidays are a perfect time to re-connect and spend some extra quality time with people in real life. Merry Christmas to you and your family!

  • Kathy N.
    Posted at 22:25h, 20 December Reply

    Thanks for the confirmation. Today, instead of writing, editing, marketing, or working on my platform, I took my mother to the store. We moved slowly, at the pace of her cane. And neither of us worried about the passing time.

    I left home thinking I would give my mother the gift of my time today. It turns out I was the recipient. What a gift.

  • Steph
    Posted at 06:58h, 21 December Reply

    Not only am I self-employed, I’m a Type A personality, too. This post encourages me. I used to think, “must be nice” when people took needed brakes and realized I have the same opportunity, if I choose to. I continually tell my kids, “Your life is built one choice at a time.” I now get to tell people, “It is nice!” For the month of December, I decided to not accept any speaking engagements. I did this last year but this year I launched my next book in October and the and the cost seemed a little higher but I still made the same decision. I did one local book signing but they don’t require the level of work a speaking engagement does. I was able to be more present; what a gift!

  • Troy
    Posted at 08:08h, 21 December Reply

    Thanks for this post Jon. No matter whether we are self-employed or still have our job when we are present with others they deserve our full presence. Merry Christmas to you and the whole Acuff family!

  • KC
    Posted at 14:17h, 21 December Reply

    Such a great reminder. So often am guilty of being digitally present online instead of physically present with loved ones around me.

    Give the gift of presence. Put your dang phone away. 🙂

  • Brian Sherman
    Posted at 17:09h, 21 December Reply

    Your business contact must not have any kids….

  • Adam Martin
    Posted at 19:08h, 21 December Reply

    What a great reminder Jon! I really appreciate it!

  • Christopher Battles
    Posted at 11:44h, 22 December Reply

    Thank you Sir for this reminder.
    I have become very aware of checking my phone when out to eat and such.
    When doing errands and hanging around at friends houses though I want to use it less.
    When working, I will add podcasts to a playlist so as to not to keep pulling out the phone.
    I like how you stated that our presence become more rare.

  • Christopher Battles
    Posted at 14:33h, 22 December Reply

    I saw this response after someone posted on my sharing of this post.

  • Rachel
    Posted at 12:59h, 23 December Reply

    When it comes to phones, I often think of the comment Edmund makes in “Prince Caspian,” when he finds out that they were called back to Narnia by Susan’s horn: “It’s worse than what Father says about living at the mercy of the telephone.”

    Of course, phones were just getting started when C.S. Lewis wrote “Prince Caspian,” and cell-phones were not even in anyone’s thoughts (or nightmares!)

    Being only a couple months from 30, I’m often surrounded by people (siblings) who are using phones for things other than talking: texting, internet, games, etc. To me, that can be worse than answering the phone when someone needs you! I hope it won’t be that bad this Christmas!

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