Every single day I see entrepreneurs who are hustlin’ and, honestly, it warms my heart to know that there are people out there doing the WORK. For some reasons we’ve allowed the slick-talkin’, slimy marketing gurus convince a generation of inspired entrepreneurs that all you need to make a million online dollars is:
- a cool idea
- slick photos in an exotic location
- to “be yourself”
- alignment with the universe
And while all that is fine, it patently does not HELP the clients you are taking money from. Now. Those tactics might “attract” a community and make you feel that you’re alignment but people are waking up and no one – no one smart – is going to pay you again and again for promising the world and delivering dirt.
So yes, I love to see entrepreneurs hustle. I love it when they channel their heros and work focused like Elon Musk building rocket ships to Mars, or creating an empire like Oprah and her network or Jeff Bezos and his Amazon. I love to see that drive and hustle and work ethic.
But I also know that “every day I’m hustlin’” can very quickly lead to burnout.
You’ve read the stories from fellow entrepreneurs, seen the cautionary tales of men and women so tied up in the success of their businesses that they lose their physical, emotional and mental health along the way.
And now is the time to turn inward and examine your own tendencies and spend absolutely zero energy on judging each other and blaming all this on social media.
Here are 5 simple questions to answer for yourself:
- When, throughout the week, do you feel most relaxed without any business stress creeping in?
- How many times a week do you wake up in the middle of the night with anxiety around your business?
- We all have different needs but in your body, do you feel you’re getting enough rest and sleep?
- How do you engage creatively outside of the business during the week? And are you doing that enough?
- If a genie gave you an extra 2 hours every day, how would you use your time? (Hint: what’s the first thing that comes to mind?)
Now, let me tell you an embarrassing story…
At the time this was mortifying and it always pops up in my memories around this time of year (thanks brain!).
It was 2006 and I had just moved to the town I live in about 6 months previously. I was fortunate to secure a job with a company I’d interned with for years in their regional office but I was also taking care of my grandparents in their home, working a night job and trying to run a household with 2 people who were very set in their ways.
All of my time off happened in the middle of the night, after my grandparents went to bed and I snuck into the kitchen to add pills to their dispenser for the next day. Shhh, they thought the doctors did it with magic.
Occasionally I’d get to take my lab Jackson out for a run in the dark of night but I was usually too tired after my night shift.
Our office had shut down at noon for a holiday dinner, everyone was going to a big banquet for our industry and we, like responsible people, carpooled.
I’ll never forget sitting in the back of that company SUV when the driver, a man I’d met a few times asked me, “So, Kelly, what do you do outside of work?”
Now I can totally appreciate him trying to get to know me and draw me into a conversation but then? I was flummoxed.
I painfully remember saying something like, “not much, reading?” but I was well aware that I hadn’t read for pleasure in ages. My nights were spent sneaking pills for my grandparents, studying message boards for Alzheimer’s disease to understand Grandma’s symptoms and running with my dog.
I was so embarrassed and I don’t think anyone else noticed. To them I just sounded boring, hideously boring.
That started the shift for me, understanding that I needed something more than work (good call since both of those jobs would be gone within 2 years) and it was not only making me a pretty boring person, but miserable as well.
Fast forward 11 years and while I work incredibly hard in my business, I also have a life. When I’m not working you’ll see Instagram posts where I’m working on my house, playing with the dogs at the park, cooking something fun, exploring, reading fiction and working in the garden.
I didn’t pursue these hobbies because I wanted to sound well-rounded, or prove to that co-worker that I was interesting – I tried out a lot of things to cultivate my interests outside of work.
There was a time when I didn’t talk about non-work stuff (after a bad experience with a client wondering why I didn’t do xy&z on a Sunday, if I had time to watch a movie!) but now I know that focusing 100% of your time, energy and attention on business isn’t healthy.
Not mentally, physically or emotionally.
You can google and find 1,000 hits on “self care ideas” but the biggest one doesn’t come with a massage therapist or a pumpkin spiced latte.
The most important way you can take care of your whole self and create balance is to take a mental break from work. Not just sleep, give yourself something else, something fun, to focus on.
(P.S. this goes double if you’re a parent or caregiver and all your energy goes to taking care of another person. Don’t neglect them, but do find and care for yourself.)