Let’s start with these two little words :- I’M EXHAUSTED
Your family will tell you to rest, your friends will wonder why you’re always working, your partner will tell you to stop and relax and worst of all your team won’t understand why you’re always tired. I mean, what is it that you do – you just swan from meeting to meeting right?
It’s a case of too many tabs open and wondering how you’re still going.
So I thought I would start by sharing my road to exhaustion and top tips on how to help you thrive again. Why is exhaustion so prevalent in the start up world and more specifically, why do it if it pushes us to the max?
Let’s start with this……. how did I get here?
PATH TO EXHAUSTION
Having worked as a luxury fashion buyer for almost 10 years, I used to work 16 hour days working for a prestigious department store in the early part of my career. I was extremely proud to be there and as a result, I gave my all, every single day.
All the while in the background, when I finished work on a Friday night, I would drive 4 hours to South Wales to take care of my mum, who was diagnosed with, and later passed away from, Breast Cancer. That period of my life was the most emotionally challenging time I’d ever encountered. Ensuring I showed up to work on a Monday ‘refreshed’ and ‘ready’, yet all the while feeling physically and emotionally spent, with very few people who were able to understand what I was going through, was incredibly tough. I almost had nowhere to turn.
In the aftermath, I would never ever ask myself; why did I keep going and not stop? What effect was this having on my health and wellbeing? It’s like I wasn’t even valuable enough to be a consideration in the moment, I didn’t even stop to think about me.
This happened against the backdrop of my partner and business partner Neil suffering with his own health concerns over the same 10 year career. No doctor could get to the bottom of his issue, even after all the tests and scans we could imagine, the suggestion was to move forward to have explorative surgery.
Something had to change.
That’s when we had this light bulb moment, that’s when we seriously took our lives into our own hands and started our vegan restaurant start up business in 2016.
Clearly we didn’t see the signs of exhaustion already and like every single other person, you just learn how to keep going.
The idea excited us, but all the usual questions pop into your head, which feeds negativity into your daily life and just doesn’t help anybody.
But we decided if we were to finally take back control of our mind, body and soul, we must take those steps today and figure out the rest later.
Start up life
Move forward a few years, I am so proud to say our business is thriving. We were the fastest restaurant to successfully crowdfund (3 days), we featured in the 2018 top 100 start ups list in the UK, we teamed up and collaborated with amazing chefs and businesses, and we opened two restaurants in the space of 9 months. Life was seemingly amazing, with everything exploding at once. Hard work pays off right?
However, what nobody ever ever asks the founder of a business is – yes all that is great, but how are you?
Life to this point has been a concoction of sheer grit, determination, pushing through brick walls and basically not stopping ever. The truth is, nobody is ever going to understand the insides of your journey. That’s why they call it your journey!
So I’m taking this opportunity to share what has helped me to thrive, when I’m emotionally spent, in deep exhaustion and still trying to carry on.
How to thrive when exhausted
I am the first person to tell you how little importance I put on sleep in my life. That was until now. I have been known to work right through the night just to get ‘on top of my to do list’. This, I have learnt, does not get you anywhere. Working smarter, not harder, is the key to this and always ensuring you get at least 8 hours of sleep a night. The Sleep Revolution by Arianna Huffington is what changed my perspective on sleep and we even wrote a blog post about our top sleep tips here. No matter what, just prioritise it, there is no excuse.
2- FEEDING YOUR SOUL
Literally and figuratively. The people you surround yourself with, the food you eat, the positive words you give yourself, the little happiness breaks you have all matter and add up to a happier and healthier you. Don’t underestimate just how important these things are and always prioritise them without fail.
3- ALWAYS ASK FOR HELP
Yes we all think we’re superheroes and we all think we know it all. But guess what; we don’t! We all had to be taught by someone at some point, we all had a mentor or someone’s advice that helped spark a revolution inside of us. Well don’t let that stop just because you’re running your own business. Asking for help at that pivotal time may be the best thing you ever do, and trust me the right people will take your hand and help you to thrive.
Being a start up, having such a small budget allowing for little to no management in place and little margin for error, lends itself very nicely to a disaster waiting to happen – trust me on this one! So hire well from the start; investment in the right people from the beginning will avoid a whole concoction of issues later on. Yes this is tough, but if like us you try to take everything on your shoulders, that essentially means you have to be available 24/7 which you’ve guessed it, is just not viable.
5- SOCIAL MEDIA SHUTDOWN
With a business built around community and connecting with those who have helped us get to where we are, trust me this last point is essential. Having spent years just scrolling, looking and focussing on what others are seemingly achieving, I realised this does not do anything positive for your soul. Keep the focus on you, switch off your phone at least an hour before bed and connect with those who are next to you, because if you’re anything like me, they probably have no idea what you’re feeling today, yet your 40k followers probably do? Am I right? So stop, connect, listen to your inner voice and take time to relax. You owe it to yourself.
This is my call to action to all my fellow superheroes. Yes you are doing a fantastic job, yes you are enough, and yes your next campaign will be incredible, but not if you’re exhausted from the inside out. Listen to your inner voice that’s telling you to stop, take a break and have some ‘me’ time.
Please share how you feel and take the positive steps to a healthier, happier you, feed your soul with what matters to you and I guarantee your business and team will thrive as a result.
So I’m asking you, just in case no-one else has, how are you? is everything ok? Have you done one thing for your happiness today?
It’s time for the revolution, it’s time to Feed Your Soul.