How to stop feeling guilty, actually take care of yourself, and get bigger biz results because of it
How to stop feeling guilty, actually take care of yourself, and get bigger biz results because of it
I’ve always believed in building a business that supports your life, rather than the other way around.
Because if you REALLY think about it, that’s what makes it all worth it.
This crazy rollercoaster of entrepreneurship is profitable AND fulfilling because I’ve designed it that way.
I’ve designed a business in which I can travel when I so please, like I did for my bridal shower this past weekend (hence the photo!).
I’ve made a conscious choice not to take client calls on Monday so I can ease into the week.
I don’t schedule anything pressing for Friday afternoon so I can call it quits early if my heart desires.
I write content during the times of day when the words come easiest to me rather than trying to force them.
I go for morning runs and start my workday a bit later so I can make my own self care a priority.
I allow myself to sleep in on those mornings after a late flight back the night before because that’s what my body is telling me it needs.
Simply put, I embrace the freedom and flexibility I’ve created for myself because THAT was the goal behind starting my first business years ago. I wanted to live life on my terms—doing the work I loved and making an income at the very same time.
Now maybe for you the goal was different.
Maybe you started your business so that you could spend more time at home with your kids.
Maybe you started it so you could travel the world, working from exotic locations day after day.
Maybe you started it when you were so burnt out on your corporate 9–5 that you were concerned for your health.
But something I see time and time again, is that once you’re IN IT. Once you’re doing the thing, making the money, and serving your people, it can be really hard to step away.
You start to feel GUILTY when you’re not working on your business. You have a hard time practicing deep self-care and embracing the freedom and flexibility you craved when you started. You basically step back into that job you left.
That’s yet another reason I think this mindset work can be so incredibly powerful. Because if you’ve built a business, but you hate the life it’s created for you because you can never step away… is it even really worth it?!
And look, sometimes when I write these things it can sound like I’m a magical unicorn who has it all figured out. But are there times when the guilt still seeps in…? Absolutely. I’ll be the first to admit that this mindset work is an ongoing process and constant work to shift those thoughts. Because of that, I know the exact thought work it takes to get back to a place of practicing self-care and consequently, experiencing freedom and fulfillment.
Which is why this week, I’m so excited to talk about how to shift your mindset and let go of the GUILT that can come with stepping away from your business so you can actually embrace that freedom and flexibility, so you can get even more results (because burnt out you doesn't get the best results). ‘Cause that’s the whole point, right?!
Self-care absolutely needs to be a priority
Self-care is SUCH a buzzword these days. So much so, that I think sometimes our eyes just glaze over it without really focusing on the deeper meaning behind it. Perhaps your thoughts go straight to massages and bubble baths and you think, “That’s nice lady, but my budget and schedule don’t allow for weekly mani-pedis.” Now hear me out. Those are all amazing ways to practice self-care, but they’re not the ONLY ways.
In fact, I think that deep self-care means being aware of the best ways YOU know how to take care of yourself. Maybe for you that’s morning walks, weekly yoga, or Taco Tuesdays with the girls (gimme all the guac!). But no matter how you choose to spend your “me” time, it all comes back to this:
You can’t pour from an empty cup.
Meaning that you can’t take care of your business, or more specifically your clients, customers, products, or team, if you’re running on fumes. Because in most cases you ARE the business, so it’s essential that you take care of #1 → YOU.
If you know me at all, you know that one of my absolute favorite ways to practice deep self-care is getting outside for a run. It’s actually during that time that I allow my mind to wander. I give myself the SPACE I need to do my best thinking. Consequently, I also come up with my best content ideas on those runs.
So while it’s easy to default to the idea that time away from my desk is taking away from my business (cultivating those feelings of guilt again!), I’ve actually found the opposite to be true. A 3-mile run has yielded way more results for me than sitting at my desk staring at a blinking cursor. I’ve done the mindset work to shift my thoughts around this, so instead of thinking, “I’ll have to work an hour later tonight because of that run,” I’ve shifted those thoughts to “I’ll be able to get that post written in half the time.” I’ll let you guess which one has proven true. See how incredible that thought work can be!?
Minimum input for maximum output
In the same vein, self-care doesn’t have to be a long drawn-out process. You don’t need to have hours to devote to activities that refill your cup. In fact, I think the best self-care practices are ones that take minimum input but have maximum output. Because the moments that you’re MOST in need of some serious self-care are typically the moments when you have the least amount of time to devote to it (and subsequently would feel the MOST guilty for carving out time for it!).
For me that means that even on the busiest days, I try to get just ten minutes of pilates in. And if we’re getting real honest, most days I don’t even change out of my pjs for this. I lay my mat down in my living room and hit play on a video. But to me, that time is absolutely magical because it’s minimal input (I mean, it’s ten minutes!) for maximum output, totally transforming how I show up each day (and in life, really!).
This practice is one of my “grounding exercises” (activities that help me feel more grounded!) giving me more clarity and focus to stay on track during the day. This means I’m more productive at ticking things off my list instead of getting distracted easily by scrolling social media or checking my inbox. That ten minutes usually saves me 5x that later in the day because I'm actually feeling good and moving through tasks quicker rather than slogging away.
Do yourself a favor and jot down a list of three self-care practices that don’t take a ton of time, resources, or energy, but have a tremendous effect on your overall productivity and wellbeing. THOSE are the ones to rely on when you’re feeling guilty and crunched for time in the self-care department!
It’s an equal energy exchange
I have an incredible mentor who helped me to shift my mindset by thinking of my business as a relationship. More specifically, to think of it as an equal energy exchange. Meaning that there are seasons of hustle when things are busy and I’m being stretched, and in those instances I’m pouring a lot of energy into the business. But in the same way, there slow seasons when there isn’t as much work on my plate and I have more free time available. Those seasons are the ones when my business gives back, funding that downtime and truly making it possible.
Thinking of my business in this way helped me to alleviate some of the guilt around stepping away. It helped me to see that I was already pouring time and energy into my business and that taking a lunch break to go on a sushi date with my guy is actually one of the ways in which my business gives back to me and that makes it even easier for me to receive other things like more money and clients.
Here’s another example: Maybe you’re an artist and you release a new collection of paintings every quarter. You might be in busy season of CREATING initially, working longer days to produce the collection. But as you move out of creating and into more of a marketing role, you have more free time AND you’re making sales. Your business is giving back by funding that slow season and that’s a good thing!
Notice when guilt isn’t serving you anymore
Our brains love to keep us safe. They love to default to the ways we’ve always been doing things, not taking any unnecessary risks or putting ourselves in harm’s way. It’s a survival instinct and serves us well in many ways. But it’s also what makes it difficult to stretch outside our comfort zone and to push what we’re capable of.
Knowing that, I like to think of guilt as one of the emotions my brain uses to keep me safe. It’s essentially going, “Whoa now, are you sure you want to take that time off? Don’t we have money to make to survive? Shouldn’t you really be by your computer right now.” But when I take a closer look at that thought, I know that I do my best work WHEN I step away. Like I said before, more time at my desk doesn’t necessarily mean more productivity, or heck, even more dollars in the bank. There’s a part of me that deeply knows I do my best work, and hit more of my goals, when I’m taking care of myself so that I’m healthy and happy (funny how that works, huh?).
Here’s where the work comes though: I have to actively choose to think differently. I can’t let those old holdover thoughts from working a 9–5 run that show. And you may have to put that very same work in. So the next time you feel the guilt creeping in for taking some much needed time for self-care, ask yourself, “Is this a useful emotion?” Because you may be relying on “old programming” (old ways of thinking) rather than what will serve you best moving forward.
Remember why you started
So many creatives and entrepreneurs got into this line of work for the freedom and flexibility that it will create in their lives. They love the idea of working from home in a top-knot and yoga pants or having the ability to pick their kids up from school and chaperone field trips. That freedom looks different for everyone, but I highly doubt you got into business for yourself to work harder and longer than any day job you’ve ever had.
I had a client recently who was feeling guilty that she didn’t complete as much of her Future You coaching homework as she would have liked because her kiddo was sick and she had spent time and energy tending to her. But here’s the thing—many of us start businesses for days exactly like this. It’s the freedom and flexibility in these businesses that make it possible to drop everything and change the plan without having to call in to a boss or worry that we’re using one of three sick days.
But if you’re constantly making yourself feel “wrong” for that, then it’s going to be pretty hard to ever feel like you’re winning at this whole life and business thing. Once we talked about how her very definition of success (which she had journaled about in my welcome guide!) included being able to spend more time with her kiddos, and this was yet another way she was living that out and experiencing both profit AND fulfillment. By reframing it in that way, she was able to see how feeling guilty wasn’t serving her at all and move through it SO MUCH faster, rather than sitting in a story that she wasn’t putting enough into her business. And just a reminder, we always see more of the results we actually want when we feel good!
In fact, I would argue that for many, building a business that allows for that freedom and flexibility IS the very definition of success. And remember, you get to choose. You get to choose the morning runs and the coffee dates. You get to choose the field trips and the sick days. You get to choose exactly when you feel guilty for doing something other than working on your business. Because chances are, this is exactly the life you were looking to create for yourself as an entrepreneur and there ain’t no shame in that game. Because I believe you don’t have to choose BETWEEN the life you want and the business you want. I honestly believe you can have BOTH.
So go ahead and embrace the freedom and flexibility of entrepreneurship. That’s literally the whole point.
Tell me in the comments below:
What’s one perk of entrepreneurship that you used to feel guilty about that you now enjoy?
Photography by The Hancocks Imagery