The perfect images do not reflect reality. They are snippets in time to make you think they are perfect.
I will be the first to admit that I don’t have a good work/life balance. Some weeks, I spend every waking hour working on my business and my kids are left to fend for themselves and my partner to sit on the couch by himself every night. Other weeks, I build lego, paint pictures and go on picnics while the work piles up. Something I have learned along the way is to try and be comfortable with the uncomfortable. You can’t do everything and you can’t be everything. If you try, you burn out.
How can we be ourselves when the world is telling us we need to be perfect all the time?
The start of 2018 has not been an easy one for me. I haven’t been in the best place mentally and the fatigue has set in. I am not alone in my struggles. There have been many conversations with fellow business owners who have also felt the mental strain. It all becomes a little overwhelming. The mental health of business owners is alarming and at times scary. As someone who has struggled with depression in the past, I consider myself one of the lucky ones (which might be a strange thing to say). I know the signs and I know what actions I need to take to get myself back on the right path. But it creeps up on you while you are busy doing other things.
I tried to have a hobby (lol it wasn’t a great success)
I have worked hard over the last few months to get to a better place. Taking the entire Easter weekend not to do any work and just be with my family. Making sure I take time out once a week for myself. As a mother of two kids under 6, that is no easy feat. I tried to have a hobby (lol it wasn’t a great success) and settled with an hour every Friday afternoon just to chill on my couch watching a trashy show on TV. It might not seem like much but it is a full hour where I am not needed by anyone, I don’t have to answer the phone, and I am not juggling three or more things at once just to get everything done. I am working on being honest about where I am and how things are going with those closest to me. My support network of like minded business owners is amazing and the catch ups I enjoy the most are the raw and honest ones.
Balance doesn’t exist
You can’t do it all and that can take some time to accept. Balance, I think, is misleading. In business we are taught that to have a real purpose, you have to choose who you are truly serving, the customer, the staff or the stakeholders. Because you can’t prioritise each one. It doesn’t mean you don’t take care of them all, it means that you prioritise one over the others as your main driving force. Choose what you are prioritising in your life. It doesn’t have to be that way forever, just what you want to focus on for now.
Get comfortable with the uncomfortable.
It is ok not to be exactly where you want to be, as long as you are moving in the right direction. One of the things that helps me on the days that the future of my business doesn’t seem so rosy, is to concentrate on the stage that I am currently in. There is no point in trying to be a CEO when there are too many other roles that need to be attended to first. I am also working on celebrating the successes. You may look at your business and not see the success but trust me it is there. It might be winning a new account (even if it is a small one), it might be a great review from a customer, or for me, despite not generating the revenue we set out to for the month, the number of birthday cakes we delivered was double compared to last year. They may be small but they are worth celebrating.
Most importantly, don’t neglect yourself. Don’t put off your plans to exercise or eat right to another day, do it now. Get an early nights sleep and give yourself a break (mentally). You are doing ok. If you have staff, remember they feel stress too and can be dealing with all sorts of issues. Check out this great information put out by the Victorian government about dealing with mental health in a small business.