How to stop feeling guilty and experience the freedom + growth you’re craving
How to stop feeling guilty and experience the freedom + growth you’re craving
Slept in. Leisurely pancake breakfast with my man. Morning run by the lake. Took pupper to the vet. Grabbed a pumpkin spice latte on my way home (sidenote: how are the holiday cups already out at Starbucks?!?). All before sitting down to my inbox and tackling those business-related tasks.
That was last Friday. Does every day look like this? Absolutely not.
But do I believe that taking time off to refuel actually helps me to GROW my business? 100% YES. Without a doubt.
But I also know that I didn’t always feel this way. Actually, far from it.
There was a time when I first started this crazy rollercoaster of entrepreneurship that I would feel guilty stepping away from my desk to run an errand or going for a midday run during “work hours.”
I’d worry that emails would come through that would need an urgent response. I’d wonder if I was “overindulging” in the benefits of being self-employed. I’d fear that months down that road, I’d wish that hour or two was spent on additional marketing efforts instead.
I’m not perfect and even now there are times when I find myself having to do the work to manage my thoughts and keep my mindset in-check so that the guilt doesn’t come creeping in. Maybe you’ve been there too?
Because when you’re self-employed the list really never “ends” and your job is never truly “done” but I want to reinforce (because you guys, this is so, SO important) that doesn’t mean you can’t take a break. In fact, the more I give myself that time, the more clarity and focus I feel IN my business and subsequently, more momentum too.
Which is why today, I’m so excited to talk about how to shift your mindset and let go of the GUILT that can come with self-care as an entrepreneur so you can experience the freedom, and subsequently, the GROWTH you’re craving in your life and business. ‘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.
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” 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.
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 well-being. 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.
Here’s another example: Maybe you’re an artist and you release a new collection of paintings every quarter. You might be in a 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. That 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.
And yet, I’m constantly amazed how easy it is to lose sight of that vision on the hunt for a rather vague definition of success. Somewhere along the lines of more income and more impact you’re tempted to put your own health and happiness on the chopping block. Or rather you may just default to the idea that “this is just the way things are.” With that, I want to offer another opinion, which is this:
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 Jennifer Morgan Photography