You shouldn’t either.
In early June I closed my Online Fitness Business. For three years I’d prioritised my business over all else, and I was paying the price both physically and emotionally. I hadn’t been eating well, exercising or maintaining my relationships. I was likely travelling a path towards the destruction of everything in my life that matters.
That’s the problem with running your own business and being in complete control of your calendar… sometimes it’s hard to know when to stop.
Once I decided to shut up shop, I spent a lot of time sitting in the garden, reflecting on the past. I thought through my decisions and actions like I was looking for a needle in a haystack; critically analysing until I had a list of mistakes. Then I planned for the future, building on what worked previously, and doing my best to learn from the unforgiving lessons I’d learned along the way.
This time I decided to build my plan on the solid foundation of:
doing whatever the fuck I want, FIRST.
Because atop my list of past mistakes was never making time for myself.
If I was going to continue to be an entrepreneur, I couldn’t keep living to work.
I tried that for 3 years, always working harder and longer because I might just stumble upon the secret to success. I didn’t…
Instead, I found the bar of burnout and the saloon of self-doubt. Day in, day out, I sat in each, drinking flagons of failure until you could smell it seeping out my pores.
No, I damn well wouldn’t be headin’ down that dirt road again.
Here’s the steps you can take to make sure you’re not ridin’ the highway to ‘Burnoutville’ too.
Step 1: Write a list of everything that matters
Pick up a pen and a notepad, wander to a quiet place with no distractions, and write down everything you wish you’d done over the last 6 months. Make sure you write down things you have done as well as things you haven’t.
Remember, this isn’t about your business either. I want you to focus on your personal life… I want you to focus on what matters to you.
- If you have a partner, write ‘date night’ on your list.
- If you have children, write ‘spend quality time with Mary, Joseph & Magda’ on your list.
- If you have a dog, write ‘walk rover’ on your list.
- Don’t forget to call your Mum and your closest friends.
It’s that simple. Write down the names of every person who’s important to you and give them the right to ask for a little time from you.
Next, we need to talk about you.
- You need to eat, preferably nutritious food, so write down all food-related tasks.
- If you’re going to walk Rover, your exercise might be covered. But perhaps you’re a gym rat (like me), or you like to hit the pavement for a run (not like me). Whatever your torture, put it on the list.
- Consider what helps you relax. Is it reading, meditating, sitting outside in the sun or watching tv? Write it down.
- What are your hobbies? Or what have you thought you might like to start doing, but you never seem to find the time. Don’t go overboard here, but if you’d like to learn a language, practice playing an instrument or improve your photography, write it down here.
Finally, is there anything else you can think of that you would like to have in your life, but don’t have enough of it right now?
- Perhaps you like to travel? Write ‘time to plan a holiday’.
- Maybe you’re a sports fan? Write ‘see a football game’.
- You might even be a sucker for West End musicals (like me)? Write ‘see a musical’.
This is an exercise in understanding the life you’d love to live, so don’t leave anything out.
There’s one final item you need to add to your list…
- I don’t work on Sundays!
Step 2: Fill your calendar with what matters
Open your diary or calendar app, and working from the top, bookmark some time for each item on your list. Date night might only be once per week, so book it in on your preferred night. While walking Rover might be every day, so book it in every day.
Don’t worry about how your calendar looks right now, just fill it with what matters first. Once you’ve put everything into your calendar, you should be looking at your dream week… and hopefully, you should realise there’s plenty of time throughout your week to spend time with people you love, look after yourself, pursue your hobbies and still get your work done.
Speaking of work tasks, you can add them into your calendar now, fitting them in around the events that matter to you.
Step 3: Remove the barriers
You’re probably staring at your calendar thinking:
‘Well that looks great in theory, but I know I’ll never be able to manage that. Work always gets in the way’.
That’s the exact mindset that led me down a path of self-destruction!
So, if that was your first thought, I want you to take another look at your calendar and repeat after me:
“This is the life I want to live, so I will find a way to make it work”.
Here’s a few tips to get you started:
Delete social media apps off your phone.
This is by far the best time-saving decision I’ve ever made. I no longer allow trivial distractions, like irrelevant social media notifications, to disrupt my day. As a result, I maintain concentration for longer periods, I am more productive at work, and I work fewer hours.
I could talk about this all day, but the best way for you to understand is to simply delete the apps from your phone and book time in your calendar to check your social media using your desktop. Try it for 24 hours, 3 days or 7 days… just give it a go and thank me later.
Log out of your email account once you’ve checked it.
You don’t need to be logged into your email account 24/7. If someone is sending an email, it’s not urgent. If someone sends you an email and expects an immediate response, they need their email privileges revoked. Email is a communication tool that will control your life if you let it. So, don’t let it.
Check your email at a set time, once or twice per day. When you check it, deal with what’s in your inbox until it’s empty. In doing this, you’ll free up plenty of time to pursue what matters to you.
Make Sunday a day out and plan your day in advance.
It’s all too easy to get up on Sunday morning and start a tennis match of ‘what shall we do today’ with your partner. Then you look at the clock and realise it’s 3 pm, you’re both still in your pyjamas, and your mental tennis has left you too exhausted to go anywhere.
So, make sure you’ve planned your Sunday outing by Saturday evening at the latest. Then on Sunday, get up, get dressed and go.
Step 4: Take action
And that brings me to my fourth point…
All of this effort is worthless if you don’t act on the plan you’ve made.
Sure, I know things will crop up, and sometimes you won’t be able to follow your plan. But more often than not, you will. If you try this for a month and you’re not able to follow your plan at all, perhaps it’s time to consider if your entrepreneurial journey is truly working for you.
Because all the things you wrote on your list in step 1; they are the things you’re supposed to live for.
Is your business truly worth giving up all that’s on your list?
If not, you have to find a way to put your life first.
That’s the secret to being a healthy entrepreneur.
Want to build a successful business, without sacrificing your relationships, health, fitness, sleep & fun?
I wrote ‘The 10 commandments of a Healthy Entrepreneur’ as my guiding principles to ensure I never become an unhealthy entrepreneur again. I’d like to share them with you, so you don’t make the same mistakes.
Originally published at www.tarafitness.com.au