Recently, I was chatting with a fellow entrepreneur and she asked how I prevent mental burnout. She said she’s consistently struggling to make time to rest and relax, and it’s taking its toll. Despite trying to prioritise self-care, she mentioned one major emotional roadblock that always stops her:
“I feel guilty when I do things that aren’t productive”.
I used to feel the same way, and if I’m honest, it drove many of my business decisions for the three years I was a personal trainer. Then I closed my fitness business in early June. I was exhausted and lost. So, I did what any good failed business owner would do; I sat in the garden in the sun every day for two weeks to de-stress and debrief.
I always thought if I sat in the garden for an hour or two, it wouldn’t look productive from another person’s point of view, and therefore, it couldn’t possibly be productive. But in closing my business, I felt like I had the breathing room to do whatever the hell I wanted for a few weeks.
My most important realisation is that, for three years, I’d been guilt tripping myself to the brink of burnout. Always working harder and longer, believing if I couldn’t make money, at least the people around me would see I was working hard.
But I never took the time to look after myself, despite longing to feel happier and healthier. I’d stopped exercising and eating well. I gave my phone more attention than I gave all of my relationships combined. Every waking minute of my day was spent thinking – no, worrying about my business.
As I sat in the garden a few months ago, I wondered if I’d guilted myself into a failed business venture.
Over time, I’d made so many assumptions around what is ‘productive’. My definition of productivity wasn’t based on the strategic tasks that propel my business forward. Instead, it was shaped by what I thought other people would see as productive. In other words, I felt like I always needed to look busy to be considered productive.
In hindsight, that’s far from the truth.
Since I closed my fit biz and embarked on a journey of self-care, I’ve realised one roadblock thing:
Sitting quietly with your own thoughts, allowing your mind to wander, and forcing yourself to just be… this is one of the most productive states you can be in.
Sure, you may not cross anything off your to-do list, but where do you get your direction if you’re never stopping to draw the map?
Bookmark some time in your calendar to try it this week and discover the productivity of nothingness for yourself.
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