Before I started my business, I was a self-confessed workaholic. I hated my job but I slaved away at it anyway. Even though I was considered to be one of the top performers in the business, I never felt like I quite measured up. I suppose part of it came from being one of just a handful of women in a male dominated industry, and some of it came as a result of working for a boss who was fantastic at criticism, but not much good at anything else, and the rest of it? Well, that pretty much just came from me. I was always highly competitive. I wanted to be the best and I never felt like I could be the best unless I worked the most hours, gave up the most of my personal time, came running back in at the drop of a hat when something went wrong (quite often finding myself machine side at 3am, as if I was going to somehow change the fact that we’d be waiting 6 hours for an engineer to arrive, just by being there). Of course, all of these decisions weren’t as premeditated as they sound. In reality, I was just reacting to my emotions and fears, rather than intentionally giving my life away to my job, but looking back on it now it seems ridiculous.
So, when I finally quit the rat race to concentrate full time on building my coaching practice, my intentions were very clear. I’d spend my days doing what I loved. I’d be around before and after school for my children. I wouldn’t need childcare in the school holidays. I’d have the time and freedom to do the things that I wanted to do. To see the people I wanted to see. And so on.
Well, here I am. It’s the middle of the Easter holidays and the weather is positively glorious. I can’t quite believe it’s only April, and we’re basking in calm sunny days and 19 degree heat. So, yesterday afternoon we went to the park. We walked our pooch Charlie and the kids climbed around the play equipment. We sat on the grass and ate sandwiches and cake and just generally chilled out and enjoyed the sunshine. At least, that’s what it looked like from the outside.
On the inside however, my head was awash with ideas and opportunities, tasks that needed to be completed - like writing an article for you lot :) – calls I needed to make, content I needed to create, and so on. My daughter kept asking, “Are you even listening to me?” #guiltyascharged
So why doesn’t my dream match my original intentions? Well, the fact is, it does. But it’s so much more exciting than I could have ever imagined. At first, when I was building my business and working a full time job, I found my business to be a huge source of stress and anxiety. But, once I dedicated myself to living my dream, I found that I had creativity and imagination beyond anything I’d ever thought possible. I was able to identify possibilities where before none had existed, and the daily challenge of self-motivation became a doddle!
The problem I have now, is trying to switch off. It’s not that my kids aren’t my world, because they are, but I’m not sure how many times I can coo over my daughter’s gymnastic feats (yes, they’re brilliant, but I see them at least 300 times a day), and listen to my son swagger (I’m not gangsta enough to know whether that word is even appropriate in this context) about the latest YouTube supremo, or how he’s “owning” his mates on some online game.
So, while before I was working like a dog out of desperation, now I’m working like a dog out of passion and enthusiasm. Outcome: I’m working like a dog!
So, now what? Well, I guess it’s time to recover some good habits!
Meditate – I tend to dip in and out of meditation, which is not ideal, but I am just so keen to crack on with my work that I lose sight of how important it is. I feel like I don’t have time to waste sitting around doing nothing, but when I get to the point where I can’t enjoy spending time with my children on a beautiful day, then it’s time for a rethink. So, as of now, I am reinstating meditation in to my daily routine? Wondering how it helps? By training the mind to focus on the present, during meditation, it becomes easier to focus on the present in day to day life. That skill improves your ability to switch off and also improves focus and productivity when you are working, which makes me wonder why I ever stopped! Don’t know how to do it? Check out the fantastic free tool that will help you get started!
Leave the Phone at Home – as a solo entrepreneur I am always on duty, and I’m terrified I’m going to miss something, so I found myself in the park responding to emails and Facebook comments. But, if I’m really honest with myself, people have to wait for me to get back to them if I’m in a client session, so why can’t they wait while I’m at the park with the kids? So long as I reply within a few hours, then it’s certainly acceptable to leave my phone at home. In the same vain, I also deleted a tonne of stuff off my phone including Facebook Page Manager, Instagram, Pinterest, MailChimp and a number of other things that cause me to micro-manage every aspect of my social strategy every time I find myself waiting in a queue, standing outside of school or sitting waiting to meet someone. It was turning me into a crazy woman!
Practice Gratitude – I haven’t completed my gratitude diary in over 3 months, which is ridiculous because I have so much great stuff to be grateful for but, because I don’t need to lift my mood, I’ve simply forgotten all about it. But you heard me moaning about my kid’s antics earlier, right? So, it seems I’ve lost touch of how grateful I am to be surrounded by them and their little nuances. After all, if Gina wasn’t around, I’d be lost for not having her cartwheeling and handspringing in front of me every other minute of the day. And how would I know who’s cool on YouTube if not for Nat’s ongoing commentary? And, they are actually incredibly brilliant kids (if not a little cheeky and mischievous), who are watching my growing business with pride, and have started to ask such insightful questions about what it really means to never give up, and how you can make money doing what you love, and how it’s possible to feel even remotely happy when you have to go to school on Monday, lol. So, my teeny notepad is coming back out tonight, and I’ll be reinforcing, within my mind, just how incredibly abundant my life is!
Take Some Personal Time Out – I struggle wildly with this idea because I love what I do so much. Very often, I don’t want personal time, because doing this feels like personal time. But, if I’m honest with myself I know that it’s not. So, my plans are two-fold. First, I’m going to start running again, because I love getting lost in the resonating beat of my feet hitting the pavement, and I love that feeling of physical strength that comes from exercising consistently, and I love to see the improvement I’m making by monitoring my stats! And secondly, I’ve started having a proper go at yoga. I’ve considered this a few times, and had an occasional try, but the challenge of being a single mum means I don’t have a great deal of opportunity to go to classes (other than during my work day, which doesn’t sit comfortably with me). So, a few weeks ago I downloaded an amazing app, which I am absolutely loving. If you’d like to find out more about this and monitor your exercise stats too, check out the great smartphone apps I’m using!
So, how about you? Do you ever find yourself working like a dog and unable to switch off? What strategies or techniques do you use, to help yourself to wind down and focus on the positives?