Hey friends! For me, the most alluring part of running my own business was the freedom that came with it. Being able to follow my dreams, do what I love, on my own time, and answering only to myself.
I quickly learned that all of this was a big old double edged sword!
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The very thing that drew me to wanting my own business was also the very same thing that ruined me periodically, lets say every few months, or at least several times a year!
“The very thing that drew me to wanting my own business was also the very same thing that ruined me”
Being in control of everything, means everything is on you! All the damn time. Every single decision, every detail, every action that needs to be taken, is on you, and you alone.
I know for me, this became overwhelming, FAST. I burnt out every time. I didn’t learn my lesson the first time I burnt out, nor the second time. It probably took me at least 4 go-arounds before I learned how to make a realistic change. Talk about a slow learner!
In the early days, I ran on pure adrenaline. Excitement for making a positive change, working toward my passion, finally realizing what my dreams were. I would work into the wee hours of the night, or start very early in the morning, basically putting sleep on the back burner. Now I look back and I wonder how I ever did it?!
“How could the thing I love, become the thing I hate to do?!”
Eventually I got to a point where I couldn’t do it anymore. Not only was I no longer enjoying what I was doing, I was DREADING it. How could the thing I love, become the thing I hate to do?! I was panicking a lot, I was losing sleep, I was not loving what I was doing anymore. In fact, I, on more than one occasion, considered throwing in the towel,and purely only working my other job (which is teaching).
And there have been times where I did do just that. I took a step back from my business,and worked more as a teacher ( I can do that, I just picked up extra substitute days). Although I wasn’t working on my passion at that point, I was happier, or less unhappy I should say.
From this time I learned that I craved structure. I needed it. I need set work hours. I need time to just dive into my work, and not think about anything else. And then I need to be able to go home to a life I love and not think about work at all!
“I need set work hours. I need time to just dive into my work, and not think about anything else. And then I need to be able to go home to a life I love and not think about work at all!”
Once I had been doing this for a while, I started to realize that maybe I could apply this work and lifestyle to my business. And since then I have, and I am LOVING IT!
I don’t know about you, but I was majorly overly identifying with my business. It WAS me. There was no separation between me and it. And that’s what killed me in the end. Why had I stopped doing other things that I used to enjoy? Why did I no longer want to hang out with friends? Why did I no longer care about my appearance, but only cared about my IG’s appearance? Something was wrong here.
Now what is different is that although I love my work, I treat it as work. I have hours, I make a plan, I try my best to stick to my plan, I enjoy my work, but I make sure I treat it as just work. I like to think of it as, wow I have a really cool job and I love it. But I don’t let myself get joy only from my work. That is my danger zone. That is not healthy for me.
I need to feel joy from my LIFE. From noticing it’s a beautiful day outside. From feeling grateful. From feeling love for myself and my family. And then I come into my office to work (at my scheduled times), and I get to work. And when my time is done, I leave it behind, I shut the door, and I go back to my life, just like I would if I was working somewhere else.
“I need to feel joy from my LIFE.”
Now I know the argument here, how do you get stuff done ? How do you succeed? How do you know you’re doing everything you absolutely can to get your business to reach its potential?
Well part of it is changing your thinking. In the beginning, I thought of this whole endeavour as immediate, urgent, and possibly temporary. I was afraid if I didnt’ succeed soon, I would run out of steam, and give up on my dream.
Now I know myself well enough to know I will always be a creative person, and I will always want to work on my dream. And so I have accepted that I would rather think long-term then short-term. Everything doesn’t have to happen yesterday. I would rather create good content, then create shitty, more frequent content. And being authentic is really important to me. It’s truly why I do this. I feel satisfied from expressing my true self creatively, and being able to make a living off of it. I don’t want to do anything that doesn’t align with who I truly am.
The other way I had to adjust my thinking was to realize that steady progress overtime really does add up to big results. Previously, I was operating on the notion that running around like a chicken with its head cut off was productive. Constantly stressing, worrying, and planning was somehow going to get me to get shit done, and accomplish tasks and goals; but it never really did. The times I had a schedule, with a prioritized list of things to work on, was when I got shit done. And over time, it added up to big RESULTS. And the best part is, it made me feel calm, content, and actually enjoy my work!
“Steady progress overtime really does add up to big results”
So now, I plan out achievable tasks for each work session, and I ultimately accomplish my goal, and feel pretty damn good about it. It’s really critical for me to have an achievable task for each time I work. Otherwise I feel like I have no focus, and I didn’t get anything done, and then I eventually spiral. l start thinking negatively, and get down on myself, and go back to being the chicken with no head; which is not a good look!
I had to make some other internal changes as well. I had to start being nice to myself. I had to start speaking kindly to myself, and about myself.
“I had to start being nice to myself. I had to start speaking kindly to myself, and about myself.”
The way I was talking to myself was super harsh and critical. I mean I was so hard on myself, if I ever talked to anyone else that way, well let’s say they probably wouldn’t want to speak to me ever again.
Now I do things very differently. I make a point to speak to myself kindly, like I would to a best friend. I applaud myself for the tiny triumphs I do experience, and I take notice of the progress I am making, and of how far I have already come. I also tell myself that although I have a long way to go, I am doing the best I can with what I have. I try to encourage myself to keep going, and that one day I will see the results I have been dreaming of.
I also try to stay in my own lane. I try not to compare myself to anyone else anymore. In my beginning days, I feel like that is all I did. Seeing someone else doing something similar to what I wanted to do, and actually succeeding at it, sometimes it would derail me. It made me wonder, what’s so wrong with me that I can’t get there? What are they doing that I am not doing?
It took a LOT of self work to finally accept myself for who I am, and also for who I am not. Now I am not so hard on myself for who I am. I love myself, quirks, flaws, and all!
Finally, the biggest,and probably most important change I made was just letting go and letting God handle things. I don’t need to know how everything is going to pan out. I don’t need to control every outcome. In fact, I think it’s a delusion to think I can. I tried for so long to work super hard, thinking that would guarantee my success. I worked harder, not smarter. But that never added up to success for me. It only added up to burnout. More so, it killed my creativity. The pressure I was putting on myself, and the stress I felt, it did nothing for my productivity. It actually made me think that I wasn’t meant to run a business, and that maybe I should just quit.
I finally tapped into my spiritual side and realized that God has me. Everything works out when it is supposed to, right on time. I am no longer anguishing over the big picture. I am letting God handle that. What I am handling is my mind and my well-being. I am treating my biz as my work, and I am excited for all the things I have to work on. I am excited for the plans I make. I know that feeling good is key to my happiness, and my happiness is key to my success.
” The biggest,and probably most important change I made was just letting go and letting God handle things”.
I also try really hard now to complete the projects I start. I have a habit of starting something, dropping it mid way to chase a brand new, brilliant idea I’ve just had. So what I end up with quite a few projects that paused halfway. Now I only give my attention and energy to projects that seem like they will be good for my business, are not going to overly stress me out, and are achievable in a reasonable amount of time. I try to finish one before I dive into the next. This is still really hard for me, and truthfully, I usually have two projects on the go at once, and I tend to bounce back and forth between the two when I get bored or need a break from one. Maybe one day I’ll be able be laser-focused one just one project at a time!
Learning to love your business, and your work-life balance is an ongoing process. It’s more of a journey then a one time destination. We all struggle with balance and keeping ourselves motivated, focused, and encouraged. Don’t give up on yourself and your dreams just yet. Try out these tips, and I hope you they help get you back to where you want to be, loving your biz and your life! Enjoy loves. Below you will find the downloadable list, as promised!