It’s always important to focus on taking care of yourself. Most people are aware of this on some level. There are millions of articles out there on putting together self-care boxes, the benefits of me-time, or the positive impact a work-life balance can have on your psyche. However, when you are your business, this is especially crucial. If you fall apart – your business falls apart, too! There are two “arms” to this whole taking care of yourself thing that I like to preach to coaching clients: self-care and family-care. Both are equally important when it comes to your business’s success.
The Why and How of Self-Care
Self-care is not a new concept. That being said, it has become a very trendy concept in recent years. Honestly, I think that’s a good thing. A society that respects your need to care for your physical, emotional, and mental well-being is infinitely more evolved (and healthier!) than a society that doesn’t. Still, all you over-achievers out there who like to pull all-nighters working on your newly launched RIA are probably asking, “What’s the big deal? Why is it so important?” Or, my personal favorite, “I’m taking great care of myself! The fact that I haven’t slept and respond to emails at 2 AM when my notifications wake me from a dead sleep means nothing!” Get ready for a reality check.
As Gayathri Ramprasad (MBA, CPS, and contributor to Psychology Today) says: “Wellness does not come encapsulated in a pill; it encompasses the way we live.” Research has shown that focusing on self-care can lead to people recovering from depression, reducing anxiety, overcoming psychological trauma, and finding more contentment and success in their daily lives. Now, you may not be working to overcome psychological trauma, but if self-care has that kind of powerful effect, don’t you want to tap into it? Your business deserves the best version of yourself. By letting work run your life, constantly experiencing a sense of overwhelm, and approaching situations reactively instead of proactively you are not giving yourself, your business, or your clients the best you. So how do you implement self-care in your everyday life to reap the positive benefits?
There are a number of answers to that question. Self-care can be comprised of many pieces, and in all likelihood not all of them will work for you. That’s totally fine! The point of these practices is to take care of you. That means finding a routine that works for your unique life goals and personal needs. Here are some common methods of self-care that tend to lead to more balance in your day-to-day:
- Exercise. Yes, this is a big one. Getting out and getting moving has a number of physical and mental benefits. I’m not saying you have to drop everything and start marathon training. Find a form of movement you like – spin class, yoga, walking around the block, swimming laps, running, playing in your local kickball league, or any combination you choose – and stick with it. And if you start getting bored, shake things up and try something new. Added benefit: The healthier you are, the less likely you’ll have a sick day in the future, which means less time you have to spend getting behind on work!
- Nutritional Balance. When we’re stressed, it’s easy to reach for an unhealthy snack (looking at you, cheese & crackers!). Or if we’re especially busy that day, we might be tempted to buzz through the local fast food drive through. But during these times it’s especially important to make sure we’re eating a balanced diet. Not only does it help take care of our physical health, we’re more likely to feel better about ourselves, have a more positive outlook, and stave off the dreaded midday sugar-crash that may lead to a lack of productivity.
- Socialization. It’s important to step away from your desk and remember that you are a person outside of your business from time to time. Make a date with friends to go grab dinner or drinks (or both!), sign up for a networking brunch, and make time for your family. Building connections with others helps us lead a more balanced life. It also helps us gain a bit of perspective when we think about our business.
- You Time. When was the last time you went on a hike? Or read a great book? Or did anything solely because you love doing it? You time is a key component in your self-care routine. Invest time in old hobbies, or test out news ones. Do it by yourself or invite your significant other. Whatever floats your boat – just pick something that you’re passionate about and that reinvigorates you.
You’ll probably change your self-care routine with some regularity, and that’s fine. Your life situation will change, your interests will change, you will change. Just be aware and evaluate what’s working with some regularity.
Family-Care for Business Success
When you run your own business, it can be all-consuming. Don’t let this infringe on your valuable family time and your relationships. It’s important to respect both family time and work time, and to set up specific “hours” for both. One way to do this is to schedule out your day in advance, and to account for family events that may throw off your work schedule. After all, part of being your own boss is being able to take off in the middle of the day to watch your kid’s kindergarten play! When things like that happen, make “appointments” for every activity you have going on. If that means email admin needs to be scheduled for 10 PM after everyone goes to bed, so be it. Usually, though, keeping “regular” work and life “hours” is key to finding balance.
Be the boss of your notifications! During your life “hours” (aka family time) turn off your notifications. This isn’t time for checking email or replying to a comment in your study group or Facebook community. I find that turning the notifications off on your mobile device, tablet, or laptop significantly decreases the temptation to work during your non-work hours. Let clients know about your hours ahead of time so they’re aware of your availability. Let your family and friends know, as well, so they know when they can expect you to be fully engaged or available for a quick phone call. During this process, you might feel anxious. Always remember: it’s okay to not be working all the time.
You are the boss. That means you get to set whatever boundaries work best for you. This is important both for self and family-care as well as your work. Block out time to work on one part of your business, or schedule chunks of your day where you’re “allowed” to check email and catch up on admin tasks. This way they don’t consume you and cause you to fall behind on other work to-do’s. Communicate your schedule or timeline to both clients and any team members you may have. Just because you like to respond to emails at 11 PM before you go to bed doesn’t mean you expect your employees or partners to do the same – but they won’t know that unless you say so! Your schedule works for you, and you want them to have work/life balance schedules that work for them, as well.
Finally, set boundaries and expectations for yourself. It is all too often the case that we are our own worst enemy when it comes to self and family-care. If you know that your weakness will be answering client phone calls late into the night, turn off your phone. Or if you know that you’re likely to eat a burger and fries four days in a row when you get busy and run out of time, prep meals on Sunday. This is where scheduling your days and weeks in advance becomes incredibly helpful. You can map out your time in a way that works best for you, let everyone know what your schedule looks like, and accomplish work tasks, spend productive time with family and friends, and take care of yourself to recharge the batteries.
Of course, things won’t always go perfectly. Life happens, last minute appointments are made, and it’s likely that you’ll need to adjust your routines and expectations as you go. That’s what makes this process so positive – it’s flexible and can be molded to be exactly what you need when you need it. If you find that your self-care routine is starting to feel like a chore, change your approach. If you find that time with family is starting to slip away, make “appointments” to go on a date with your significant other, take your kids to the park, or meet a friend for coffee. Unfortunately, business owners don’t always have the luxury of spontaneity. That’s okay. You can still have an excellent work/life balance – and taking the steps to make it happen will have an incredible, positive impact on both your life and your work.
About Arlene Moss, Executive Coach
Arlene gets a kick out of helping financial advisors get over being overwhelmed and take on their frustrations so their businesses soar. Arlene works to ensure XYPN members are able to help their clients prosper while creating a sustainable business model. Through XYPN Academy and one-on-one coaching, members get the support they need to grow their businesses and overcome the challenges that come their way.