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Resilience and Mental Health: “Too many entrepreneurs use work as an excuse to stay busy and a way to numb out and ignore their feelings” with Courtney Elmer

Courtney Elmer is CEO of The EffortLESS Life®, and every year she helps hundreds of entrepreneurs simplify and scale their business using a proven new approach to work smarter, not harder. She  developed The EffortLESS Life® Method to help struggling entrepreneurs understand why stress, overwhelm, and burnout happen even when they’re pursuing their passion. Through […]

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Courtney Elmer is CEO of The EffortLESS Life®, and every year she helps hundreds of entrepreneurs simplify and scale their business using a proven new approach to work smarter, not harder. She  developed The EffortLESS Life® Method to help struggling entrepreneurs understand why stress, overwhelm, and burnout happen even when they’re pursuing their passion. Through her signature digital programs (The EffortLESS Life® Academy), live workshops, and weekend mastermind retreats, she guides entrepreneurs to become the EffortLESS CEO™ their business needs so they can generate consistent revenue, unlock their full potential, and create a bigger impact without working 24/7.

Her podcast, The EffortLESS Life®, is ranked among the top 500 shows across the globe and is dedicated to helping people build a business that provides the freedom they’ve been looking for.

Courtney lives in New Orleans with her husband Alan and their son AJ, a surprise miracle baby following her cancer treatments. She enjoys traveling and giving back, especially with The Blooming Lily Foundation and its mission to empower young girls in underprivileged countries to reach their dreams. And last but not least, she can’t pass up dark chocolate and good cappuccino. 

What is your backstory?

Overcoming cancer at 25 was not how I expected to start my journey as an entrepreneur. That’s when I learned first-hand that my relentless pursuit of success had cost me, in a much bigger way than I realized. But it wasn’t the cost of late nights at my desk, missed workouts to meet with clients, telling my friends (again) I didn’t have time to meet them for lunch. The real price I paid for the success I’d built was my health, my friendships, my relationships, and the things in life that mattered most to me. 

That’s when I knew it was time to make a massive change and figure out how to have success without sacrificing the things I loved along the way. I first wanted to understand why burnout happens at such a high rate among ambitious leaders, even while pursuing their passion and dreams. Then, I wanted to crack the code on how to break the relentless cycle of entrepreneurial burnout once and for all.

What projects are you currently working on?

As a textbook entrepreneur, I always seem to have more than one project going at once! We recently launched a brand new, in-depth Masterclass training called “Work Less, Make More” where I teach entrepreneurs like you how to stop trading time for dollars, and start running your business like a real CEO using a simple, 3-step approach to create the greater influence, income, and impact you deserve, without spending another late night on your laptop.

We also just opened the doors to The EffortLESS Life®  Academy, a program specifically for entrepreneurs who want an easier way to take their business to the next level, without having to piece together the overwhelming amount of business-building info out there themselves or waste a lot of time on trial-and-error trying to find the right strategies for faster growth. 

Most business coaching programs focus on mindset or strategy, which is why so many programs on the market today fall short and don’t yield the results they promise. The 5-part, proven EffortLESS Life® Method we teach inside this program provides a clear blueprint to operate business effectively, while helping you create lasting change from the inside out, so you can stay laser-focused, identify the key activities that drive real revenue in your company, and finally experience the freedom you started your business for in the first place.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career? What were the main lessons or takeaways from that story?

Surprisingly, COVID was not my first quarantine. At the start of my entrepreneurial journey while undergoing radiation treatment, I had to stay in an isolation room in the hospital for several days — not even family could visit! I can remember seeing my husband standing on the sidewalk outside while I waved to him from the 8th floor window. It was lonely. Despite the hard things I’ve done in my business since, this was by far one of the most challenging, because during that time I was alone with my thoughts. I had to take a good hard look at my life and ask myself what was most important. It gave me the chance to revisit my values, and realign my priorities. I’d become too accustomed to using “busy-ness” as my go-to coping mechanism to distract me from feeling. Overworking and living in a constant state of stress and anxiety was a comfort zone for me, and although I didn’t realize it at the time, it provided a benefit: it was how I numbed myself from the deeper emotional pain that I didn’t want to face. 

So while it was scary to face reality like this and feel how fragile life is, it also gave me a great gift: the freedom to be who I’ve been created to be, who I am, without reservation. Life is short, and ever since that time of forced quiet, I’ve come to welcome quiet in my life and to even seek it out so that I always remember that my business is an extension of me. If I’m not taking the best care of me, then I can’t expect my business to succeed in the way that I want it to. It also taught me that facing your feelings and healing past hurts is something you should never put off or delay. In fact, the faster you cultivate the courage to work through it, the faster you’ll experience true peace, happiness, and fulfillment in your life and work.

Can you share a story about the biggest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

The biggest mistake I made when I first started out on this journey of entrepreneurship was using work to measure my worth. I mistakenly thought the more work, success, and accomplishments I could achieve, the more worthy I would be in the eyes of others. 

Nothing could have been further from the truth, because operating under this belief system only accelerated my path to burnout. I put unnecessary pressure on myself. I lived with the frustration of unmet goals, because my expectations were too high. I was afraid to ask for help, because I didn’t want people to think I was inexperienced. 

Learning how to detach my worth from the amount of work I do in a day has single-handedly changed the trajectory of my business. It freed up my energy to focus on what I am capable of doing every day, rather than on what I didn’t get done. 

Best of all, it’s taught me that I didn’t need recognition, permission, or a stamp of approval from anyone other than myself to get out there and do the thing I’ve been put on this earth to do. 

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I wouldn’t be where I am today without the help of my dear friend, Kristin Marquet. Thanks to the internet, our paths crossed about a year ago and we immediately clicked. She’s been my voice of reason when my visionary ideas veer too far off-base, she tells me what I need to hear (not what I want to hear), and she’s taught me that asking for help from those who are where you want to be is the fastest and most effective way to grow. 

Plus, we both love to binge-watch TV series, text funny GIFs back and forth, talk each other through our mood swings, and laugh about the bizarre things our husbands do, which pretty much sums up the perfect friendship.

When it comes to health and wellness, how is the work you are doing helping to make a bigger impact in the world?

I understand that debilitating pursuit of success and how it can rob you of important things in life that bring joy and contentment like: health, relationships, and freedom to do more of what you love. 

That’s the driving force behind The EffortLESS Life® Method: I wanted to create a way to help struggling entrepreneurs learn to avoid and eliminate the stress, overwhelm, and burnout that would otherwise keep them from fulfilling their God-given calling. 

But one of the problems with our fast-paced digital culture is that there’s too much info available, and most of it is garbage. Think about it: if how-to content was the golden ticket to break the 6 or even 7 figure mark in your business, wouldn’t you have done so by now? How many podcasts have you listened to, self-help books have you read, blog posts you’ve skimmed, yet still you struggle to implement what you learn to create lasting change, generate consistent revenue, and get real results? 

Here at The EffortLESS Life®, we take a different approach to business by first teaching entrepreneurs how to take better care of the human behind the business. We empower entrepreneurs to change the way they work by first changing the way they think about work. Then we teach them how to run their business like a real CEO and identify if the way they’re working is actually working in their favor.

It’s counterintuitive to most business programs out there, particularly the ones focused on wasting your time by learning how to master your marketing strategy, write better copy, level up your social media game, and keeping you busy on things that don’t move the needle much in the long run. 

The five-part EffortLESS Life® Method we’ve developed is the missing piece your business needs to succeed: by helping you re-focus your efforts, clarify your Vision, and regain control over your time and income, scaling your businesses to create more freedom and impact becomes, well — effortless.

Can you share your top five lifestyle secrets that you believe will help support people’s journey towards better wellbeing?

  1. Honor your feelings
    1. Too many entrepreneurs use work as an excuse to stay busy and a way to numb out and ignore their feelings. Here’s what you must remember: your feelings — like self-doubt, frustration, impatience, discontent, etc. — are there to teach you something. They highlight your prime opportunities for growth.
  2. Honor your body
    1. You wouldn’t expect a plane to take off without a pilot in the cockpit, would you? To reach your destination, it requires energy, focus, attention, and skill. A business without the human behind it is just a business. The degree to which you experience success in your business is the degree to which you’re taking care of yourself: protecting your energy, honing your focus, being mindful of distractions that take you off course, and strengthening your mind and body every day so that you stay at the top of your game and arrive safely to your ultimate destination without crashing and burning along the way. 
  1. Protect your energy
    1. When you’re working from a place of passion and purpose, it can still be easy to slip into doing more than you’re physically able to do. Couple this with the creative mind of an entrepreneur and daily influx of new ideas to achieve and shiny objects to chase, and this is a recipe for disaster when you’re not careful. Keep in mind that for everything you say “yes” to, you say “no” to something else by default. So make sure you’re saying yes to the things that help improve your bottom line and no to the things that distract you and take you off course.
  2. Enrich your mind
    1. Remember that saying, “An idle mind is the devil’s playground”? What I know for sure is that an idle mind is a breeding ground for self-doubt, indecision, and stagnant growth. Do one thing to enrich your mind every day, whether that’s 20 minutes listening to your favorite podcast, reading 10 pages of a good book, or calling up an entrepreneur friend for a heart-to-heart conversation. If you don’t believe that these small actions are worth your time, humor me by trying it for 90 days. Then look back and celebrate the growth you witness.
  3. Create Space
    1. Start every morning with 20 minutes of quiet reserved for you, even if it means getting up earlier to make it happen. Use this time to source inspiration for your business by putting on your “CEO hat” and stepping into the role of Visionary that your business needs. Ask yourself, what 3 things do I need to accomplish today that will move the needle the most? (Hint: posting on Instagram or checking email should not be among these 3!) When you sit down at your desk, do these 3 activities first… before tackling your inbox. 

If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?

I like to think I’ve already started one, by creating a movement designed to help ambitious people like you learn how to create an EffortLESS Life® (and biz). 

But The EffortLESS Life® Method is more than a series of steps to hit your goals or strategies to grow your business. It’s a holistic approach, designed to become a way of life. When you give up the belief that hard work and hustle are necessary for your success, you’re able to work less, make more, and start creating the greater influence, income, and impact you deserve. 

Yet our vision doesn’t stop there, because imagine if you knew how to approach every challenging aspect of your life in a way that’s easy, do-able, and achievable? Your pile of debt… paid off. Your broken relationship(s)… healed for good. Your struggle to get and stay healthy… made easy. Your space at home… clean and clutter-free. What would become possible for you when you have trained coaches in your corner who are dedicated to helping you overcome obstacles and experience rapid success and growth in every area of your life? 

Our mission is not to eliminate life’s challenges and suffering, but instead to equip you with the tools and resources you need to face them head on with confidence and clarity, so you can overcome whatever stands in between you and each new level of growth. And ultimately, so you can step more fully into your power and live The EffortLESS Life®. 

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?

  • Focus on the 80%
    • Growing up, my dad always told me: “80% perfect is perfect Courtney.” I’d nod my head and strive for perfection anyway, until one day the light switched on and I finally understood what he‘d been telling me all these years: that 80% is perfect enough. That I am enough. That I‘m worth more than what I do, or how “right” I do it. And so are you. I’ve been focusing on the “80% Solution” ever since… because that other 20% you’re stressing over? No one notices anyway!
  • Ask for help early and often
    • If I could start over with a clean slate, I’d ask for help more often, especially when I don’t think I need it or when the questions sound silly. This takes humility, and a desire to let go of the need to have it all figured out and the fear of not being seen as an expert. Yet when you learn how to do this, you’ll experience faster growth with way less headache.
  • Picture yourself on your deathbed. Will you wish that you stayed up late to get that project finished? Or that you closed your laptop early to spend precious time with the people you love? 
    • Did you know that one of the top 5 regrets of the dying is, “I wish I hadn’t worked so much?” In our fast-paced culture, it’s easy to focus only on what’s in front of you and forget that there’s a much bigger picture. When you feel the pull to work late, miss your kids’ soccer game, or skip pilates class to meet with that client who called at the last minute, ask yourself this simple question: If I say “yes” to this, what does it mean I’m saying “no” to… and what’s more important?
  • Your business is nothing without the human behind it (you). To succeed in business, take care of the human first.
    • We’ve touched on this one already, and I’ll say it again because it’s so important. When you make yourself a priority, I can promise you this: your success is inevitable.
  • There will be moments when you want to quit. Pay attention to what those feelings of frustration, discouragement, and loneliness are there to teach you.
    • Nothing is happening to you. Everything is happening for you. When you start to look at your business through this lens, you’ll notice a whole world of opportunity available to you that you didn’t see before.

Sustainability, veganism, mental health and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?

Mental health, without a doubt. Don’t get me wrong, sustainability, veganism, and the environment are worthy causes, but without your mental health intact, how will you be able to champion causes like these and others?

Mental health is also dear to me because of my own mental health journey, battling a severe anxiety disorder in the form of anorexia and OCD in my late teens and early twenties. I would not be where I am today had I not sought help to learn how to heal from within and to protect my mental health long-term. 

Your mental health is one of the critical pillars that supports the foundation of your whole life. If you neglect it, it will eventually crumble, bringing your whole world down with it. 

If you feel helpless, alone, or aren’t sure where to turn for support, consider calling the SAMHSA National Helpline (1-800-662-HELP) or Googling “mental health resources near me” to find trained specialists in your area who can help you work through the challenges you’re facing so you can experience healing, health and wholeness. Facing mental health challenges can feel scary, and you don’t have to go it alone. 

What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?

Website: courtneyelmer.com

Podcast: The EffortLESS Life

Instagram: @CourtneyElmer_

Facebook: @courtneyelmerpage

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