I'm writing this, bed bound, suffering with Costochondritis. I should be resting, but I'm writing this blog because I'm addicted to my business. Im addicted to it because I love it so much. I categorically believe in it and want it to succeed.
When I started the business, I was still working full time as the operations manager at a performing arts franchise. I couldn't set any boundaries because I wanted to get my idea off the ground so badly. I slept on the floor, every night, for a couple of hours, surrounded by work.
Four months after starting the business, I left my full time job, but I still needed some financial stability so I trained as a carer. Again, I was performing a tremendous juggling act. I'd be out the door at 6am, showering and feeding elderly people then changing in a public toilet, before running between bookings and then heading home to a ton of admin work and then finding my way to the gym in the early hours. Lots of the people around me were telling me to slow down and consider my health. My mum, in particular, had seen me burnout through stress at other points in my life so she was worried. To be honest, I met everyones concern with "you don't get it" , "this is just part of the grind" and " I have to outwork everyone because I want it so bad". I was defensive and viewed myself as somewhat superhuman.
Time went by, and at a young age I thought I had somewhat figured out how to navigate through life. I was doing what I love, I was getting recognition and awards, and I was earning money from my hobby. Business was great! But my physical and mental health were suffering. I was constantly getting sick but refusing to take time off. I was sleeping three or four hours a night. I wasn’t making time to eat properly and give my body the fuel it needed.
Day in and day out I was struggling, but at the end of each day I was telling myself I'd managed it. Whatever had seemed impossible at the start of the day, id made it through. So I kept pushing, and pushing.
In February 2019, my body had reached it's breaking point and I ended up passing out in my local Tesco and being taken into hospital. My biggest concern, even then, was not my health, but the business. I could not afford to be in hospital, I need to be growing my business, earning money, and making an impact. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. Yet I felt and still feel such huge amounts of guilt when I'm not working or 'being productive'.
When I returned home, I ignored advice and continued to push. It's so hard when you love what you do, and you've turned your hobby into the thing that has to pay the bills. That's a lot of responsibility.
What I found at this time, was the more networking I was doing, and the more business owners I met, the more I saw that I wasn't alone. So many entrepreneurs face burn out, exhaustion and trouble saying 'no'. We endlessly fill our schedules and make use of our time seeing as we're responsible for all of it now. I started to get tips from other people about creating a 'work-life balance' and looking after myself as well as my company.
As we entered 2020 I vowed to place better focus on my wellbeing and implementing self care with the same dedication that I scheduled work in. I started reading self help books, meditating, using crystals, and booking days off into my diary. I was journaling and really working on making myself the best version of me so that I could be the best business owner.
As you can see, it's February and I'm ill again. Ill to the point where I've been in hospital and unable to work. Seems I haven't quite learnt my lesson.
I am trying to do things a little differently this time. The OCD perfectionist, workaholic in me has been forced to a stop. Im having to rest otherwise the business will fail. I think I'm actually coming to the realisation this time that rest and recovery are an integral part of the grind. They are a huge aspect of productivity.
Im not there yet, but I'm learning. You can make money back. Bookings can wait. Emails can wait. Clients can wait. Your health can't. When your body has had enough, it will make it apparent.
I'm going to work really hard to get into that focused self care zone whilst growing my beautiful little business.
Wish me luck.
PS. If this resonates with you. Keep going! But have a rest too. It'll do you the world of good.