Small business advice personalized for those who are new to business
As a self-employed person it can be hard to know where work ends and life begins. Working hard on your business without proper self care can leave you feeling exhausted and hopeless. Exhaustion and hopelessness if left untreated will lead to burnout. And we don’t want that. Your business is a blessing to the world, don’t let it fade because of your own lack of self care. So what does self-care for the self employed look like? Here’s three key ingredients that must go into your self care routine, and don’t worry, I’m going beyond the basic “take a relaxing bubble bath” advice you’ve gotten elsewhere.
For the record, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with a relaxing bubble bath.
Ingredient 1: Healthy Work
Self-care starts here. What does healthy work look like? It starts with doing something you’re proud to do. If you’re not proud of the work you do, it’s hard to stay motivated and keep going forward. Healthy work means you have healthy work boundaries. Healthy work means you stop working when you said you would. Overworking isn’t a prize to be won. Healthy work also means you have realistic expectations of work load, deadlines, and growth. Unhealthy work creates a stifling atmosphere of unnecessary pressure, guilt, and shame. Healthy work means you acknowledge your strengths and lean into those. Healthy work also means that you give yourself grace for your shortcomings and for things outside of your control. Guilt isn’t going to get you anywhere. Self-care starts with healthy thoughts and expectations about the work that you do. Take the pressure off yourself.
Ingredient 2: Rest
For a long time I thought that rest had to be earned. It does not. Rest is not a reward for good behavior. You deserve to rest, regardless if you’ve been productive. Build a habit of rest into your daily and weekly schedule. Give yourself a bedtime and stick to it. Give yourself time in between tasks or events to adjust and transition. No one benefited from being overscheduled. Pick one evening, morning, or afternoon (or best yet, a whole day) per week that is a scheduled rest time. What you do during your rest time isn’t super important. You could nap, read a book (for fun), sit in the car and stare out the window, lay on the ground and stare at the ceiling, play a game on your phone, or pet your dog. It’s more important what you DON’T do. It’s not a productive time. This isn’t time to clean, multitask, or scroll social media (studies show this isn’t actually as restful as we think it is).
Ingredient 3: Recreation
If you’re always thought that rest and recreation were one in the same, I’m about to blow your mind. Rest is all about giving yourself margin and time to decompress from your daily tasks. Recreation is about recharging your creative side, having fun, and experiencing things that make us feel alive. Here is where you can create a list of things “to do” in your recreation time. Crafting, social activities, games, puzzles, hobbies that aren’t side hustles, baking, painting, gardening, and whatever it is that makes you light up. If you don’t have a hobby (or you turned your hobby into a side hustle and now you need a new hobby that’s actually a hobby), look at what you thought was fun as a child, most likely it would be fun again as an adult. For example, as a kid I loved playing with miniatures and dolls. Recently, I purchased a secondhand doll house and I spend some of my recreation time fixing it up for fun, for myself and no one else. I find that women more often than men feel the need to justify their hobby time because they’re so afraid of what others think, heaven forbid some of your time isn’t productive! “I’m sewing, but it’s for charity.” “I’m baking a new recipe, but it’s for my kids.” “I’m crafting, but it’s a Christmas gift”. Your recreation time doesn’t have to be “for” anything. It’s important to recreate for the sake of recreation. I often see men getting frequent recreation time and it’s widely accepted and unquestioned. I see a lot of husbands having regular golfing times, hunting trips, poker nights, video game time, and television watch parties and no one asks “but what’s it for?”. We know that it is for recreation. Ladies, you too deserve recreation time. And don’t simply say “I don’t have time for that!”. Ladies, make time. Set a time with regularity that everyone in your house knows it’s your time to recreate. For me, it’s a few hours every Sunday after church, between lunch and dinner. For you it could be Tuesday nights from 6 p.m. - 9 p.m. Make it a regular event that you can look forward to and long enough that you’ll get adequate time to get into it. You’ll also get into it faster if you’re ready to go when the time comes. That might mean packing your bag the night before so you’re ready to go to your activity. It might mean cleaning your creative space the day before so when it comes time for your recreation time, you aren’t spending half your time cleaning. Prioritize recreation.
Your self care doesn’t look exactly like mine, and that’s okay. You might not enjoy bubble baths, staring at the ceiling, or working on a doll house, and that’s okay. But you should incorporate all three “ingredients” into your self care so that you and your business can flourish long term.
Which of the three “ingredients” do you find hardest to do?
Hey! My name is Christine and I'm an entrepreneur and small business coach. I've learned most of what I know through trial and error. I help women who are new to business to take their next steps with confidence and clarity.