How to Prevent Your First Year as an Entrepreneur From Crushing You

entreprenuer advice

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.

girl chair books

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.

stretches

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.

inspiration girl

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

Laura is a life coach for young women who are ready to do something big with their lives. She helps women tackle burn out and lack of direction to regain control and make some seriously exciting momentum in their personal and professional lives. Laura lives in Nashville, TN with her boyfriend and their (very!) rascally rescue pup.

20 COMMENTS
  • Elissa Talley February 11, 2017

    You captured the feelings of being a first year entrepreneur exactly! Ughh, it’s hard to step away. Thank you for some rational advice and encouragement!

    • Laura Weldy February 13, 2017

      Thanks Elissa!

      It’s soooo hard, but so worth it. And you’re welcome! Don’t hesitate to reach out if you need more support 🙂

  • Laura Tully February 9, 2017

    I needed this in the most visceral way. I was feeling as if everything was moving around me and I couldn’t tame it. Thank you so much Laura for bringing some insight that’s both real and truly feels like words filled with hugs 🙂

    • Laura Weldy February 10, 2017

      Aw thanks, Laura! I’m so glad it brought you some peace. I love what you’re doing! Don’t hesitate to reach out if you ever need further support in your journey 🙂

  • Christen February 9, 2017

    Thank you for a wonderful read, Laura! A fresh cup of inspiration to keep moving (and slow down) this week.

    • Laura Weldy February 9, 2017

      Thank you Christen, so glad you enjoyed it! Let me know how you’re slowing down this week!

  • Kendall Wilson February 7, 2017

    Thank you for this! I am nearly a year into my own entrepreneurial journey and everything that you said rings true. Great reminders for us all!! <3

    • Laura Weldy February 7, 2017

      Hey Kendall,

      So glad to hear this resonated with you! Congrats on your first year, and keep it up! 🙂

  • Vern February 6, 2017

    Loved this article. I would love to see more like this!
    Like Jessica, I started my business last year and got really burnt out at the end of the year. These are all great ways to refresh!

    • Laura Weldy February 7, 2017

      Hey Vern! Thanks for the kind words – really glad you enjoyed my piece, and I hope you’re inspired as to new ways to care for your mind, body and spirit in 2017! 🙂

  • Cindy Kimmi Dao February 6, 2017

    I love this~! Great insight and advice! Keep it up =)!

  • Kari Thompson February 3, 2017

    We just hit our first 100 days as a Mother & Daughter business. We both agree that setting a well-rounded pace is key to keeping our momentum up. This exact topic has been part of our conversation of late. I just subscribed to Darling and hope to see more articles like this.

    • Laura Weldy February 6, 2017

      Congratulations! ? I hope some of the resources I shared will be useful to you both!

  • jessica February 2, 2017

    Great advice, and perfect timing! I launched my business last year and quickly got burnt out over the holidays. Starting fresh with all this in my mind 🙂

    • Laura Weldy February 6, 2017

      Congratulations on your launch! I’m excited for you to prioritize yourself more in 2017 – after all, keeping yourself healthy keeps your business healthy!

  • Gemma February 2, 2017

    Wonderful advice : )

    Gemma
    http://www.fadedwindmills.com

  • I have yet to start my own business, but my best friend has. She’s on her third year now I think, and she’s told me that getting started and getting into the groove is the hardest!

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
    http://charmainenyw.com

    • Laura Weldy February 6, 2017

      Hey Charmaine, I agree that getting into a groove can be tough! I hope you’ll share my piece with your friend!

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