2020 Lesson 5: Don’t let your cup run dry

Lesson 1 is all about finding the little flickers of light. Lesson 2 and Lesson 3 are about

Last lesson learned from 2020! Well, last one I am writing down…

Quick recap: Lesson 1 is all about finding the little flickers of light. Lesson 2 and Lesson 3 are about the importance of people. Lesson 4 is about being kind to yourself (go read them all, you will make me so happy!) and this lesson is about staying sane.

According to the Gallup Wellbeing Index

  • 45% of entrepreneurs report being stressed
  • 34% report being “worried a lot”
  • Mental heath issues affect 72% of entrepreneurs
  • 30% suffer from depression
  • 12% have at least one addiction

According to an article by Business Insider, 7% of business founders experience constant depression, 30% are dealing with the effects of depression and more than 50% end up burnt out.

I don’t have to share the stats to convince you that its stressful and scary being a business owner – do I? You know. But do you know that the most important thing you can do for your business is look after yourself?

Different business owners will have different sources of stress, depression and anxiety, but they all have them. I’m afraid that most of us believe a rather pervasive myth that if you aren’t successful it means you aren’t working hard enough. We wear “busy-ness” like a badge of honour.

Hard work is important, and being genuinely busy is great. But if your problem is linked to a broken system, a bad product or a pricing issue then working harder is definitely not going to fix it.

Your business exists because of you. You are the brain behind it, you are the passion that drives it. If you collapse, so will the business – even with a great team!

This year there was a huge spotlight thrown on mental health. I think it is the best thing that came out of 2020. The realisation that we are people and people need to care for each other and care for themselves. 

The best thing you can do for your business it to take care of yourself. When you are at your physical and mental best, then you are emotionally strong enough to deal with the issues the business faces. You have the mental clarity that you need to identify an issue and find a solution. You have the energy you need to actually get the problem resolved. You have the confidence you need to keep improving.

I have experienced two bouts of burnout while running my business, the second being far more severe than the first. Both were a result of me simply not looking after myself.

If I had taken more breaks, I would have had the creativity I needed to fix problems

If I had gotten more sleep, I would have had the clarity I needed to review systems

If I had exercised and eaten properly, I would have the energy I needed whenever there truly was legitimate busy-ness to deal with

If I had spent more time on my faith and with my loved ones, I would have had the peace and confidence I needed to get through hard times

If your personal health and personal life have suffered because of your business, you should not be wearing it as a badge of honour. You ARE the cup that your business flows from, you cannot let that cup run dry, break or fall over.

Which is one of the reasons I am closing for December and spending time with my family – outside in the sunshine!

Because when I come back in January I know I will feel renewed and energized and I will once again be excited about my business.

If you are tired and depressed and anxious, then please don’t work through the holidays. I know that it might feel like you can’t afford the time off. It might feel like the hamster wheel is spinning far too fast for you to step off it. Or you are terrified of not being able to pay your bills in January.

I can 100% guarantee that working harder will not fix any of it.

You don’t have to take off the whole month, but please take some time. A little bit of blocked-out time where you don’t think about a project, you don’t worry about a deadline and you actually enjoy the presence of people you care about. Go outside, spend time with a pet, read a book, pray, listen to music. Take a few days to just breathe – deeply.

And then when you go back to the madness, carve out time to change it all so that the hamster wheel slows down.  It sounds impossible, but I did it, so I know you can too.

Just stop draining an empty cup. Make sure you fill it back up again – regularly.

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