How to Prevent Your First Year as an Entrepreneur From Crushing You
I’m coming up on the one year anniversary of running my own life coaching business, and I have to tell you — it has not been what I expected. I anticipated that I’d have to put in some long hours, and I’m no stranger to hard work. What I didn’t anticipate? The spiritual, physical and mental toll that my first year in business would take on me.
Everyone knows that being an entrepreneur means you’re wearing all the hats for your company; consequently, your to-do list is never-ending. It’s impossible to complete it all, and this can be difficult to accept (especially if you’re an achiever, like me). On top of the stressful list of tasks, I also struggled in my first months with feeling as if I couldn’t separate myself from my computer long enough to exercise or grab coffee with friends.
I feared that if I wasn’t working on my business every moment, then it would never succeed. After a few months of full time entrepreneurship, the financial strain of my learning curve started to feel like an impossible burden. Emotionally, I struggled to separate my core self from my business, and had to learn how to articulate boundaries and stick to them.
I feared that if I wasn’t working on my business every moment, then it would never succeed.
All of these stressors culminated in September 2016 with a diagnosis of adrenal fatigue. I was sleeping ten hours a night and still felt too fatigued to make it through the day, which put me even further behind schedule. My body and mind both felt like I’d hit a brick wall at 90 miles per hour, and I had to seriously scale back the work I was doing.
Luckily, I was able to get my health and business back on track, and it’s a lesson I’ll never forget. As I prepare to enter my second year of business, I plan on doing so with intentional structures in place to guard my newfound health and wellbeing, and I’m passionate about sharing those intentions with my coaching clients. I know for a fact that the better I feel, the better work I produce for and with my clients and the happier I am.
Today, I’m sharing just a few of the practices I’ve implemented to help me maintain my body, mind and spirit during high pressure times.
For Your Body:
Be flexible about your workout, finding time throughout the day to be active in short bursts. I realized quickly that hour long yoga sessions felt like too big of a commitment for me during my stressful seasons, and that kept me from doing anything to move my body. Instead, I’ve embraced short activities, such as walking my dog or doing a bite sized yoga sequence, whenever a free moment arises.
Stretching is key! Even if a workout doesn’t make it onto the calendar for the day, taking a moment to stretch your muscles helps you be mindful and present. It’s also easier to sit and focus for longer amounts of time if your body feels relaxed and flexible. Try one of these stretches on for size!
Get ergonomic in an economic way. Ergonomics (essentially, a way of understanding and designing one’s workspace for effectiveness and to keep your body healthy and safe from potential injury) might seem super old school, but taking the time to set up your desk in a way that supports your body is important when much of your work is done on a computer. It doesn’t need to be expensive — instead do some research and get creative with items you already have around the house.
For Your Mind:
Find time to seek out and revel in community. Whether you join an online community, hire a coach or join a local Meetup or social group, you need to find time to connect with people on a regular basis. You don’t need to talk about your business (unless you want to!), but staying up until 10 pm working on your website, on your laptop, at home, is not a sustainable work life balance.
Make time for other interests. Yes, I said it. Your business should not be the only interesting thing in your life or you risk burning yourself out. Try listening to interesting podcasts while you work, or making a day date with a friend to visit a museum. One of the best parts of being an entrepreneur is having a flexible schedule, so don’t forget to utilize it!
Get organized. If you know what needs to be accomplished before you sit down to work, then you’ll be ready to start immediately. I use bullet journaling to organize my mind and tasks, and it has helped immensely with my to-do list overwhelm. Having clear yearly, monthly, weekly and daily goals sets you up for success, and goal setting is a skill that takes time! Get supported by your coach or community and make sure they’re just as invested in your success as you are.
Yes, I said it. Your business should not be the only interesting thing in your life or you risk burning yourself out.
For Your Spirit:
One of the unexpected side effects of starting my own business was that I felt myself grow spiritually in the light of the new, giant risks I was taking. I encourage you to find a daily routine that prioritizes a connection to source, whatever that means for you. I practice daily meditation to remind myself that I’m part of a bigger picture, and to allow for inspiration and quiet reflection. Others find prayer, a daily reading or an early morning journaling session to work best for them.
Visualize yourself succeeding at everything you desire. What would it mean for you to succeed in your business? Is it just about getting more clients, or is it the freedom those clients will allow you in your life? If you can’t get clear on how your success will look, taste and feel, it’s difficult to make it happen. Spend some time imagining yourself succeeding and achieving each of your dreams, and pay attention to what this practice brings up. Be flexible about those goals and consider shifting them if something in your visualization isn’t resonating.
On the hardest days, go to the movies. Buy a new book. Go for a long drive. Snuggle with your puppy. Do something that uplifts your heart and spirit when the day has been particularly tough. I bet that your visualization of success in your business and life didn’t include you crying over a client email! Instead of dwelling on what’s gone wrong, help your mind shift to a happier place by doing something that genuinely brings you joy.
Those are just a few of the ways that I am continually seeking balance and self-care for my body, mind and spirit in 2017. While these are the ways I feel my best, I encourage you to explore this and customize these ideas for yourself and your lifestyle. Being an entrepreneur takes courage, ingenuity, and lots of compassion – both for others and yourself. I know if you’re reading this, then you’re in it for the long haul, so this is your permission to treat yourself that way. What will you commit to doing for your body, mind and spirit in the months ahead?
Do you own your own business? What challenges and successes have you enjoyed this last year?
Images via McKenzie Hanson