We’ve been talking about resilience in all areas of your business for a few months - it’s been fun, right? Creating resilience in all areas of your business takes time and energy, but the results are astounding.
But where do you find the time and energy? Time can be found by leveraging resources and strategies, whether they are people or ideas (check out our articles on time blocking, virtual assistants, and trying new things). But energy … the energy to build and maintain that resilience has to come from somewhere … but where?
Your core energy source, that battery that keeps your business charged up and moving forward is ... well, YOU.
All the things that are unique and amazing about you are what got your business where it is today, and will take it to the next level. into the next steps. Which means, of course, that you need to make sure that your own battery is charged, that you are building personal resilience, to keep you functioning at a high level.
It’s not just that heavy-duty brain you’re operating, with its amazing technical and entrepreneurial skills, that feeds your business. It’s your physical body. It’s your emotional well-being. It’s your mental health. All of these parts of you work together, to process ideas, hormones, nutrients, stress, and so much more, to create the whole person and energy you need to not only stay alive and healthy, but also to fuel your business.
Ah yes, that elusive “work/life balance” that we are all encouraged to locate, and Millennials as a generation are simultaneously appreciated and derided for desiring. Interestingly, while business events designed for women nearly always include a speaker on this topic, similar events for an audience of all genders rarely include such a talk - despite the fact that yes, men should also have lives and identities outside of work. But we digress: this isn’t about genders or generations.
It’s about you.
How’s the old inner battery? Charged up? Where are you drawing your power from?
In our productivity-focused culture that venerates work and achievement, it can be really difficult to draw energy from anywhere other than those reserves that are supposed to be there to help you manage crises and danger. Pure willpower, adrenaline, and cortisol work together to help us through what are supposed to be rare and trying times. It’s not unusual, however, for entrepreneurs to be accessing these on the regular - and you don’t need us to tell you what that does to your mind and body.
The combination of expectations, from ourselves as well as others, that we “should” be able to knock the socks off our businesses, families, personal development, health care and exercise regime, and somehow actually have friends and time to write that book or learn that language or travel or…Well, it’s just tiring.
On top of that, even when we’re trying to rest, like the magazines tell us we’re supposed to, the leftover stress from all those things we do can actually make important things like sleep and staring blankly at the wall (some people call it “meditating”) yet another thing that we’re just not doing well enough.
It’s truly difficult to make any progress on these things when we’re exhausted. Yes, it would be lovely to take a month or six off to really get things in order, but for many of us, that’s a pie-in-the-sky idea. So if a sabbatical is impossible… what can you do?
Start with self-care, which is a lot more than bubble baths and spa days. Those will help you heal. In Part 2 of Building Personal Resilience scheduled for June 25th we’ll work on nourishment, the things that will fill your batteries, and give you energy.
Breaks, Rest, and Sleep
Ever feel like you’re “five-minuting” yourself to death? If we actually attempted to do all the tasks that will “just take five minutes”, then we’d never get around to doing our actual jobs.
First, hand the stuff that doesn’t require you to someone who can do it at least 80% as well as you (that’s a B+, which is more than great, especially when it’s not your core offering). Yes, it’ll take you 10 minutes to teach someone to do a 5 minute job, but then they can do that 5 minute job forever, saving you from ever having to do it again - and giving you 5 minutes an hour, day, or week that you didn’t have before.
Second, start building breaks into your day. Real breaks. 10 to 15 minutes every 90 minutes is not much, plus, they are proven to prevent “decision fatigue” (among other incredible benefits) - making you smarter and more capable.
Sure, you may not be able to take that month off you really wanted. But you can take 10 to 15 minutes. We promise.
How do you make those breaks really count? By actually using them for rest. This is not the time to check social media, your email, call your mom, or coach a colleague. This is nothing time. It’s blank space that you are not allowed to fill.
For some of us this is an easy idea. For others, well, it sounds utterly insane. What do you mean… “nothing”? I don’t know how to not be doing something.
Reflection time, just sitting back and thinking about the things that float through our brain (without specifically doing anything about them during your reflection) is proven to generate innovation. Think of it not as unplugging, but as plugging in.
As we mentioned above, sleep can be elusive for the truly stressed. You may pride yourself on the ability to be energetic and capable on minimal sleep, but trust us, this shouldn’t be a point of pride. You’re robbing Tomorrow You of the energy needed to do all the things you planned. Give Tomorrow You, Next Week You, and all those future versions of yourself a hand.
Start with understanding your own circadian rhythms, and continue to pay attention to this, as it changes throughout our different life stages. Make notes about when you feel alert, when you feel drowsy, and start adjusting your work schedule to make it easier for you to (1) fall asleep, (2) stay asleep, and (3) maximize your alert energy.
Saying “yes” probably has a lot to do with what got you where you are today. Saying “no” can feel not only like admitting your limitations (boo! hiss!) but also like letting other people down. If you’re a giver, it can be extra difficult to create those boundaries.
Whether that’s closing your laptop at the end of the day Friday and avoiding it like the plague until Monday, or turning off all of your notifications during focus periods, or even just turning down one more opportunity to give away advice for free, setting small boundaries that protect yourself, your relationships, and your time are vital to maintaining that charge that will build resilience in your business.
Giving yourself permission to walk away from these things can be hard. Start with setting goals for how you want to spend your time. Categorize activities into “Vital”, “Moderately Important”, “Might Be Nice”, and “Definitely No”. Make sure that you and your team are using these categories when making both short and long term decisions about how you’ll allocate your time and energy.
If you can’t trust yourself to maintain those boundaries, you can ask your team for help. Whether that’s giving your executive assistant full authority to structure your time and say no on your behalf, or getting an accountability buddy to hold you to your promise, it’ll make all the difference to your ability to raise energy when you really need it.
If you’re thinking: who forgets to eat?, feel free to happily skip on by.
However, if you’ve ever looked up and realized you haven’t eaten a thing all day, except maybe that hunk of rotisserie chicken over the sink while consuming your 18th cup of caffeine, stay with us. We know you.
Sure, meal planning really works for some people, and it may for you. There are many great resources out there to help make that happen. But if planning, shopping, and preparing meals feels like one more thing that will break you, don’t take that on.
There is no shame in getting someone else to cook for you. Yep, stay away from too much take out, as that’s rarely going to help you stay healthy and mindful of portions. Also, you still have to remember to order it.
Many business owners are getting on board with hiring professionals to clean their homes. Consider whether there’s someone who might make your meals, or whether a healthy meal service is an option that would help you avoid having to make one more decision and learn one more skill that isn’t actually anything to do with getting you where you need to go.
If it’s just getting around to grocery shopping that’s becoming a difficulty, paying an extra $5 to $10 to have the grocery store shop for you and deliver it to your door is an efficiency that more than a few of our team members adore. How long does it take you to grocery shop? Drive there? Stand in line for the opportunity to give someone your money? Drive home? Think about that at your hourly rate, and you’ll find that delivery charge is peanuts.
That doesn’t mean you will therefore spend that time working. Spending that time resting, exercising, and engaging in any personal activities that charge your batteries is more than worth the money.
Ugh. Maybe you’re one of those folks who really gets excited about exercising and, if so, good for you. Just like those people who remember to eat, you can pass this one by. You’re probably the same people.
For those of you who are struggling with boundaries, those just-one-more-five-minute tasks, and feel like the clock is literally snickering at you… well, exercise can fall off the table pretty quickly. Especially if you don’t consider yourself particularly sporty.
Yes, we all know the benefits of exercise: improved sleep, healthier appetite, heart stuff and fat stuff and all those things. Knowing that isn’t going to get you out the door. So stop trying to be an exercise superstar. Maybe you don’t like being a gym rat. That is okay. Maybe running looks like literal Hell. Also just fine. Maybe team sports give you more angst and anxiety than leading your own team at work. Definitely okay.
There is something you can do with moving your body that you will enjoy. Truly. It could be walking by the beach. It could be yoga, by yourself, in front of your TV. It could be rock climbing at an indoor (or outdoor) gym. If you’re an achievement junkie, martial arts are likely to juice you up pretty intensely.
There is something that will float your boat. Once you find it, it will help you shed not only those extra pounds that you sort of care about but not enough to move, but more importantly, that stress, adrenaline, and cortisol that builds up inside you.
There are a lot of reasons people avoid taking care of their mental health, and societal norms that still see mental and neurological issues as character flaws can be tough to fight against. Business owners are twice as likely to suffer from depression than the rest of the population, 6 times more likely to have ADHD, 3 times more likely to struggle with addiction and 11 times more likely to receive a bipolar diagnosis. See? You’re normal.
Do not ignore the signs that you need help with your mental health. Talk to your physician. Talk to a psychologist or a psychiatrist. Advocate for yourself, and get treatment. Mental and neurological health concerns are not shameful. They are normal, and require treatment. Take care of you.
You’ve got your work cut out for you with self-care, and we recommend you get started right away because more is coming. Once you’re feeling well-healed, it’s time to build up your reservoir of energy with the right kind of nourishment for you. Look for Part 2 of Building Personal Resilience, due out on June 6th.