As business owners, it’s easy to put the needs of others above our own. There is always somebody essential that wants or needs something – whether employees, clients, or even the dozens of emails waiting in your inbox. However, just because you have a demanding schedule, you don’t have to neglect self-care.
If you don’t make time for activities away from work, your mental and physical health will suffer – and so will your business. The healthier you feel inside and out, the more effectively you will be able to handle work responsibilities. Here are six ways to care for yourself while running a startup.
1. Schedule Me Time
The only way to stay consistent with self-care is to purposefully incorporate it into your daily schedule. Make it a priority to schedule some me time every day, even if it’s just fifteen minutes before you start work. Use this time to do anything that will make you happy and relaxed, whether that be journaling, doing yoga, practicing meditation, or just enjoying a good book. Keep this up every day, and you’ll spend more of your waking hours in a state of calm, as opposed to stressed and anxious.
2. Get Regular Exercise
Exercise is known to be one of the best stress relievers – helping to ease tension, improve your sleep quality, and boost your mood. But you don’t need to spend hours on the treadmill or tons of money at the gym to reap the benefits of exercise. Doing small chunks of physical activity throughout the week is enough. During the work day, use your breaks to get moving outside, even it’s just to take the dog for a walk. Commit to a fun outdoor activity that you love on the weekends – this will give you the balance you need between work life and your personal time.
3. Plan Your Meals
The foods you consume impact your cognitive thinking. A busy schedule, however, can make maintaining a healthy diet a challenge – sometimes it’s easier to just grab fast-food or order takeout. To avoid making poor food choices, prioritize planning your meals ahead of time. Having healthy meals prepared for the week will save you time during your busy workday.
4. Take a Break from Technology
We are all guilty of spending too much time with technology. Startup business owners find it especially hard to get away from technology when you have constant emails, demands, requests, and messages coming in. This is why it’s so important to set boundaries around the times when you will respond.
When you’re taking a break, the best thing to do is put your phone and computer out of sight so that you aren’t tempted to look at work messages. This will make it less tempting to think about your business 24/7 and give you a much-needed break from technology screens.
5. Spend Time in Nature
Nature has a calming effect on the mind. The beauty and serenity of the outdoor world create a sense of peace you obviously don’t get in a working environment. Just getting outside during the week will rejuvenate your mind and help to relieve stress and mental fatigue. For additional benefit, try going barefoot – this has been shown to build muscle strength and reduce feelings of anxiety.
6. Plan a Weekend Getaway
Running a startup can be physically and mentally exhausting. If you can manage, make plans for a weekend getaway. Taking a few days to away in a new place will do wonders for your mindset and overall health. If you feel hesitant to take time off – keep in mind that it will be better for your business in the long run.
So, there you have them; six ways to care for yourself while running a startup. Do you practice any other methods for your own self-care? If so, please share them in the comment section below.
From time to time, we all experience feelings of boredom, dissatisfaction or even exasperation in our jobs. Most of us muddle through, knowing these feelings ebb and flow, as they often do throughout a long career. But what should you do if those feelings persist and grow stronger with each passing week? When you are longing for change and beginning to resent work, you might be on the road to a professional midlife meltdown. In other words, you’re approaching career burnout.
You realize it’s important to be careful in this situation. You’ve probably known people who faced a similar dilemma and took leave, not only of their senses but their jobs as well. These restless souls decided suddenly to resign and jump without looking. Gutsy and a bit foolish, yes? But that’s not you. At least you don’t want it to be.
Well, what can you do to keep from going through this type of crisis? Let’s break it down. There are five steps you can take to avoid a midlife meltdown, thus saving your career, relationships, and mental state.
#1. Acknowledge Your Feelings
As the old saying goes, “Perception is reality.” You don’t need anyone else to validate your emotions or tell you that you’re wrong. There’s a reason for your angst or malcontent, even if you haven’t discovered what it is yet. Let the feelings flow, and you may discover the cause of or solution to your problem.
#2. Add a Few Minutes of Mindfulness to Your Routine
Mindfulness is a therapeutic technique used by successful professionals to avoid stress, negativity, and frustration. When you focus awareness on the present, it becomes impossible to dwell on the regrets of your past or the worries of your future. Meditation, yoga, and relaxation exercises are all popular forms of mindfulness. Consider adding one or more of these activities to your daily regimen to stave off a midlife meltdown.
#3. Determine if the Situation is Temporary or Not
Once you have accepted and pondered the situation for a while, consider whether it’s a temporary irritation or one that’s bound to continue. How long are you willing to tolerate the current state of affairs? If your job is unbearable or you dread Monday mornings, it might be time to make a plan or take action and make positive changes.
#4. Investigate a Different Career
Do you daydream starting a more fulfilling career? If so, check out this epic list of potential jobs and resources: 11 Midlife Career Change Ideas that Don’t Suck. These positions take less than two years of education and pay a starting salary of 40k – 76K. You may discover a more satisfying professional life is not out of reach.
#5. Plan to Become the Entrepreneur You’ve Always Wanted to Be
If, however, you long to start a side-hustle or become a full-time entrepreneur, you will need to do some investigation and devise a plan. Do you know what type startups to consider? If so, have you researched your competition? How much money can you get your hands on to fund a potential business? How long can you afford to go without a steady income?
All are critical questions to answer before leaving your current position. Check out this basic guide from the Small Business Administration to help you start a business plan. While some people don’t think a structured plan is critical to success, I firmly believe even a shortened version can save you thousands of dollars and countless headaches throughout the first few years of your startup.
Following these five steps regarding your career can help you steer clear of a midlife meltdown. You can have a satisfying professional life again. But it will take patience, research, and commitment. Let’s face it, anything worthwhile does!
Remember, life is better when we lift each other up.
Randi Levin has helped hundreds of fledgling entrepreneurs avoid fear and overwhelm in their business lives throughout the years. She is a nationally recognized life strategist, author, keynote speaker, and reinvention expert. As an advocate for professional women, she coaches them through successful and powerful life transitions.
I recently interviewed Randi about the most common struggles women face when starting and managing a small business. Topics ranged from fear and overwhelm to productivity and time management to self-worth. I am confident you will be able to relate to this important discussion.
Life Wise Lady: When a woman wants to start a business or take an existing one to the next level, how can she get the ball rolling and skip feeling stuck?
Randi: We do tend to stop ourselves right at the door with a lot of excuses and reasons why not. The first thing you should think of doing is getting your feet wet. If you’re coming out of corporate and into private, that’s a very scary place. Ask a lot of questions. Is there someone you could shadow or a course you can take? You have to be able to see yourself in that new business.
Life Wise Lady: Sometimes an entrepreneur is intimidated because of her lack of experience with technology, social media, or some other process. How can she avoid getting caught up in anxiety and insecurity?
Randi: My favorite quote is “Say yes now and figure it out afterward.” We get in our own way. Nothing is ever really perfect. If we hang around waiting to launch the perfect product, business, or website, we are passing on developing ourselves and stepping into our business. Step into the thing that scares you the most. We all feel fear. Go! Trying things is so much more worth it than not.
“Step into the thing that scares you the most.”
Life Wise Lady: An overwhelmed businesswoman often experiences frustration and is tempted to multi-task. What tips do you have to help her stay focused and calm?
Randi: It goes back to that old issue of balance. It’s something I talk about all the time. The reality is we’re not balancing multiple things. We are balancing one thing – ourselves. What are we letting in our lives and what are we letting go of? We need to shift our view of balance and ask ourselves if we are fulfilled. We do have to pick and choose. Are the things we are working on and surrounding ourselves with the things we love? When you answer that truthfully, that’s when it all starts to fall into place.
Life Wise Lady: What time of day do you think a professional woman should take on her most challenging tasks and why?
Randi: I think it’s morning because we are refreshed. If you’re talking about business tasks, always go after the ones that deal with money first. If there is something that’s dealing with your service to a client, handle that task before the others.
Take a look at your to-do list. We are all guilty of adding small tasks so we can cross them off quickly. If you had three to five really key things to accomplish, you would have a better chance of actually doing them. Put in front of you what is doable.
Life Wise Lady: What strategies do you recommend to a woman who is overwhelmed in her professional life?
Randi: Give yourself some space. If you feel as though things are going south for you or you’re stressed, allow yourself to pause. And not necessarily for a moment. Break away from the stressors and regroup. We have so much coming at us. Take a lunch. Put the phone away.
The other piece is to stay connected. We are so connected by social media and through texts and phones. We have moved away from the in-person connections. So, bringing those back into our day takes away stress and allows us to be human.
“Break away from the stressors and regroup.”
Life Wise Lady: What causes the fear of failure and how can women overcome it?
Randi: People often won’t start something or won’t finish something unless it’s perfect. A lot of New Year’s resolutions stop because they seem like too big a mountain to climb. Reassess what you said. Who is the one who said they were going to lose weight or get three new clients? It was you.
I’m all about growth versus goals. Have the goals and the destination in mind, but what is the process? When you track your success it’s a little bit easier to get to the end result and failure seems a little less imminent.
Life Wise Lady: An entrepreneur might tend to feel like a fraud or have difficulty accepting praise or accolades. How can she move past these insecurities?
Randi: In business, people say, “Fake it until you make it.” There are certain times when we have to take a leap of faith. When we step into a relationship and get married, it’s all new. How do we know how to be married? We step into that and learn as we go. When we allow ourselves to feel like imposters, we are not giving ourselves credit for living and for all the things we know and have accomplished.
Maybe you don’t have the ten years of experience someone else has, but you have other skills that they don’t. There is something in your history that got you to do what you’re doing now. If we own our story a little bit more, all of it, we can project why we are doing what we are doing. Your experiences are to be celebrated and highlighted. The minute you take yourself seriously, people are going to take note of that.
Life Wise Lady: When should a businesswoman seriously consider hiring a coach like yourself to solve a problem or achieve a higher level of success?
Randi: The first thing is to be aware and understand when you feel stuck. Question yourself. Should I get some help? Is what I’m doing not working?
Sometimes, as women, we will go out with friends and unload our problems and our friends want to help us. So, they tell us what to do. If you do that, you’re probably going to wake up the next day and not take any of their advice. Even if you do, it may not work. The reason is that these solutions are not yours. They are your friends’ solutions.
Coaching allows you to come up with your own answers and solutions to the things that are going on in your life. We take actions on the stuff that is our own. If you’re getting at the right things, in a few months your perspectives are going to shift and you’re going to be taking action in your life. Having a coach is very rewarding. It’s a gift that you give yourself.
Are you overwhelmed and routinely pulled under by day-to-day tasks? Perhaps you are drowning in a sea of expenses too. Well then, you have come to the right place. Most of us can certainly identify with these struggles. Let me throw you a life preserver of sorts by revealing a few of the tools I’ve found to reduce chaos and keep my budget afloat. Stop feeling overworked and underpaid. Here are 9 free apps to the rescue:
Hey, Money Bags – Earning & Saving
1. Wagespot – Salary Searcher, Wage Calculator, Job Finder
Compatible with: iOS, iPhone, iPad, Android
Maybe it’s time to cast a wider net and bring home a bigger catch. This real-time app allows users to anonymously or publicly share their salary and compensation package for their current position. The data provided will empower you to negotiate a fair wage or ask for a raise. No more wondering what you’re worth or if you’re undervalued as an employee. The newest feature offers lists of job openings to browse and analyze.
2. Money Lover – Money Manager, Bill Reminder, Budget App
Compatible with: iOS, iPone, iPad, Android
You won’t go belly up if you utilize this expense tracker to manage your personal finances. Easily customize spending categories and generate reports to get the big picture. The bill reminder feature will keep your payments up to date and on time. Upgrade to Money Lover Plus for $4.99 to obtain access to premium options. Control your money. Don’t let it control you.
3. RetailMeNot – Coupons, Discounts, Deals
Compatible with: iOS, iPhone, iPad, Android
After you have organized or created a budget, you’ll want to cut expenses where possible. I use this app every time I head out shopping. It has saved me hundreds of dollars. Offers and deals are available from over 50,000 retailers and food chains. No more clipping or forgetting coupons or digging through your purse to find them. It’s as easy as shooting fish in a barrel.
Business As Usual – Productivity
4. Wunderlist: To-Do Lists, Reminders, Errands
Compatible with: iOS, iPhone, iPad, Mac, Windows
Do you have the sinking feeling you are forgetting something? This amazing app will put your mind at ease as you create a shareable list or organize your work projects. Set reminders, assign tasks or delegate household chores to family members. You can access Wunderlist from anywhere, as the app syncs between your computer, tablet, and phone.
5. Forest App – Improve Focus, Avoid Distraction, Increase Productivity
Compatible with: iOS, iPhone, iPad, Android, Chrome, Firefox
This nifty little program puts me back on course and allows me to work uninterrupted for twenty-five minute periods. I set a timer and the app plants a virtual seed. If I manage to work on my assignment for the entire time, the plant will grow into a tree. If I leave my task, the tree will wither and die. The goal is to create a larger forest each week. It may sound silly, but it works. The phone app is $1.99, but I use the browser extension on my laptop for free.
6. Waze: GPS Navigation, Maps, Traffic Alerts
Compatible with: iOS, iPhone, iPad, Android
When I forget to open this tool during my commute, I usually regret it by waiting impatiently in a sea of cars. Waze is a real-time traffic and navigation app that provides the best routes with community-edited maps. You can avoid construction, speed traps, accidents, red light cameras and other obstacles as you journey around town. Also, as a Waze driver, you’ll save money on gas by navigating to the cheapest pumps reported on your route.
The Daily Grind – Errands & Honey-Dos
7. Big Oven: Recipes, Grocery Lists, Menus
Compatible with: iOS, iPhone, iPad, Android, web
Do you hear the theme song from Jaws when your family members start to circle the kitchen and ask, “What’s for dinner?” This fantastic app is packed with over 350,000 recipes from which to choose. Save your favorites, make grocery lists, and create meal planners too. The paid version allows you to follow friends and your favorite food bloggers as well.
8. Daily Workouts: Exercise Routines, Instructional Videos
Compatible with: iOS, iPhone, iPad, Android, Mac, Windows
Daily Workouts is stuffed to the gills with full-body and targeted exercise routines. Instructional videos guide you through unfamiliar moves as you tone, tighten, and break a sweat. Now you have the convenience of your own personal trainer wherever you go. The upgraded version offers a greater variety of exercises and is ad-free.
9. TaskRabbit: Chores, Cleaning, Home Repair
Compatible with: iOS, iPhone, iPad, Android, web
You probably have a tsunami-sized lineup of improvements, repairs, and household duties to be done. If you can spare the money, use TaskRabbit to lighten the load. Hire a pre-screened Tasker to walk your dog, mount a TV, deliver a package or anything else you desire. There’s no need for cash because you pay through the app when the assignment is complete.
What do you think of my list of tools to rescue the overworked and underpaid? I know you have a few helping to keep your chin above water. Don’t keep those programs a secret. Share them with the rest of us below.
Life is better when we lift each other up.