Self-care. In our workaholic culture, it’s often seen as something indulgent. But many are waking up to the idea that self-care is imperative, critical to our longevity and long-term success. Big, wealthy tech firms provide on-site benefits to employees like massages, yoga, and meditation rooms, even free healthy food. But what if you or your business can’t afford those kinds of perks? How do you DIY self-care in a way that fits both your schedule and your budget? And, why should you?
Most of us, as entrepreneurs, are more likely to just go for broke in the first couple of years, and ignore our minds and bodies the same way a new parent is likely to drop everything for their baby.
If your business is your baby, needing constant attention, care and feeding, then you are likely to get very little sleep and ignore everything else to take care of its needs. Even when you are getting sick all the time, operating despite adrenal fatigue, or dealing with chronic pain.
Now, a little bit of discomfort is good for us all. Sometimes we just need to suck it up and get the work done. But flat out ignoring your body when it’s trying to send you a message that you need to slow down, get some rest, eat better … that could be fatal for you and your business.
"For without my health, I have nothing."
Well, if you’re not taking care of yourself, how can you take good care of anyone (or anything) else?
Research shows that when we're tired and run down, our decision-making capabilities are diminished (duh), which means we are more likely to waste time and money to correct mistakes that didn’t need to happen in the first place. If I slow down, take a breath, and make a decision from a place of strength and wholeness, then I’m much more likely to feel confident in it, stand by the results, or have the ability and energy to make a quick course correction if it doesn’t work.
If you, as the leader, aren’t willing to take some down time when you’re sick and allow your team to step up and cover for you, then you aren’t doing your job right. Not only that, but they see the example you set and think the same is expected of them. Guess what? Sick employees are a serious drain on resources.
But it’s not just about taking care of yourself when you’re sick (treating the symptom), it’s about taking good enough care of yourself that you don’t get sick or run down in the first place (treating the root cause.) So that means regular exercise, meditation time, body work, eating clean, or whatever combination of good juju works best for your body. And if you, as the leader, are willing to do that for yourself, and be open about it, your team will be more likely to follow your example.
The result? A healthier, happier team that makes better decisions, works more efficiently and can recover more quickly from any emergencies or unforeseen roadblocks that may occur!
Ok, then how?
My purpose is to set a strong foundation for entrepreneurs as they go from one stage to the next in their business. One of the most important issues that I don’t think gets enough attention is preparing people for what it means to take full responsibility for their lives and businesses.
I’ve seen quite a lot written about women who are mothers/caretakers and how they just give and give and give until they fall apart. Well, I see the same thing happen with so many entrepreneurs – they just give and give and give to their business until it wipes them out. And once you have a team that’s depending on you, forget about it!
But there are some wonderful examples of people out there who have created so-called “lifestyle businesses,” who have been able to find the balance between working hard and taking care of themselves, and are also able to create wealth in their businesses and still make the world a better place. (And they’re not even unicorns!)
The thing is, we assume that’s only possible when we get to a certain level. “Oh that’s those people … they’ve been working on their businesses for years … or, they’ve reached a certain level of success, so now they get to take a break and pamper themselves.” What if I told you you could (and dare I say should) do this for yourself from the start?
Creating positive habits in terms of taking care of your body and even your mental and spiritual health will go a LONG way toward helping you set the foundation for what you want to see in the future, for how you want to be as a boss, and for the culture you want to create.
A strong foundation.
So how do we get started?
Planning is something we talk about a lot but I’m not actually sure that many people really know how to do it. You have to literally plan rest time, exercise time and other forms of self-care into your day. If you suck at planning, you’d better get good at it, or you risk running a completely chaotic business that can easily run you into the ground. Instead of the business working for you, you become its bitch.
The most successful people in business plan their self-care. If you are willing to give yourself permission, you can, too.
Spend the time to plan:
- Plan the time into your day to prepare healthy food (or order it from a meal delivery service!)
- Plan extra time for exercise, whether it’s 90 minutes for yoga or a class, or a 15 minute walking break, or even just a set of squats and push-ups between tasks.
- Plan the time in your week to meditate or just have quiet time. Your brain needs a break and studies show that “staring out the window time” actually makes you more creative and productive!
- Plan the time in your week or month to get taken care of, whether it’s massage or other body work, or acupuncture or anything else.
- Don’t forget to plan in plain ol' downtime! Give yourself permission to just be or use the time to do something that brings you joy.
Honor your plan
- If it’s in your calendar, you do it. No excuses!
- By keeping your commitments to yourself, you increase your own self-esteem (another form of self-care) and
- Set the example for your employees. If they see you making your health a priority, they are more likely to do the same, and to feel good at work.
So, planning is the name of the game. And if you’ve done a really good job of planning and allowingextra space in your calendar, then when something comes up, you actually have the ability to move things around and make it work, instead of feeling like it's an emergency. (We'll talk more about planning in future posts and in my upcoming Founder Fitness program!)
Make no mistake, however, this is not to say that you should let yoga, meditation, massages, and play time such a priority that you use them as an excuse NOT to do the hard parts of your business. As with everything in life – moderation.
Everybody needs something different. There is no one right formula for self-care. You may have to experiment to find what works for you. Go easy on yourself. But when you do strike the right balance, and you have more energy, and you use your time well, you’d be amazed at what you can get done!
And if you set this example for your team, they too, will end up producing more in less time, and you’ll all be healthier, happier, and wealthier for it. It’s a win for everyone.
Now I'd love to hear from you! How do you take care of yourself despite your busy schedule? How do you set the example for your team so that they feel supported to take care of themselves as well? Reply in the comments below!