Many of us dream of the freedom of owning our own business. We anticipate setting our own hours with no boss to answer to and the freedom to choose the clients we want to work with. The reality of owning your own small business is often quite different – I know because I found the courage to leave a well-paying salaried position in a large IT firm to start my own coaching practice a number of years ago. I learned first-hand that while being a small business owner can be extremely satisfying, it can also bring a great deal of stress. That’s why practicing self-care is so important to small business owners. Read on to discover my recommended 5 steps to practicing self-care.
Imagine working a 60- 70 hour week for months on end and having little or nothing to show for it? This is typically what happens during a small business start-up. If you’re fortunate enough to survive the first year in business, you must still be constantly vigilant about changes in the marketplace and what your competitors are doing if you want to stay in business. Small business owners often feel they cannot afford to hire help and end up over-extended and wearing many hats, some of which are not an ideal match for their skills or personality. In my experience, selling can one of the most stressful things a small business owner must do, even though they believe passionately in their product and know that without sales, they cannot run a successful business.
I love my new career as a Life & Career Transitions Coach – it fills me with a sense of joy and satisfaction and I know I’m doing exactly what I’m meant to be doing because my clients tell me how much they appreciate the work we do together and say they can’t believe that I haven’t been doing this all my life. I work with clients around the world from my base in Victoria, B.C. Canada and a key focus of my practice is helping my clients excavate their own special gift to the world and then supporting them as they execute a transition where this talent is integrated into their personal and/or professional lives and I’m grateful every day that I’ve been able to do that for myself. However, making this transition from the corporate world to becoming a small business owner was stressful. I wouldn’t have been able to build a successful coaching practice if I hadn’t practiced self-care.
So what exactly is self-care? Well it’s taking care of yourself physically, mentally and spiritually. As a small business owner we need to combat the stresses and fears that are a natural part of being responsible for generating your own income. There’s no regular paycheque that arrives just because you showed up for work. This means that it’s easy to be thinking about your business 24 x 7, sometimes to the detriment of your emotional and physical health and your personal relationships.
Here are some simple steps you can take to begin to practice self-care.
5 Steps to Self-Care
1) Take time to pause and recognize all that you’ve achieved and the many talents and skills you possess. Appreciate the valuable lessons you can take from things that didn’t go quite as planned and leave negative thoughts behind.
2) Find some form of physical activity that you enjoy and can easily practice on a regular basis. Make sure you find a time for this activity that will work for you and consider inviting a friend to join you and keep each other accountable for following through on whatever exercise regime you commit to.
3) Think of things that you enjoy doing that help you relax or which uplift and transport you to a different place, outside of your every-day routine and block off time in your schedule to do those things.
4) Learn to nicely say “Not now thank you” to people and activities that drain your energy and use this free time to attract new people and things into your life that give you an energy boost.
5) Block off time in your schedule for self-care and honour it. Remind yourself that practicing self-care means that everyone in your life benefits as you are able to show up for them as a happier, healthier you.
How do I practice self-care? I keep a gratitude journal and remind myself of all that I’ve achieved and the people and things I appreciate in my life. I invested in an outdoor swim-spa over 5 years ago and I swim and exercise in my pool for 1 hour every other day year-round. I read novels and non-fiction books that align with my interests or challenge my beliefs and bring me new perspectives. I spend time with stimulating people who bring me new ideas and share their positive energy with me and I consciously eliminate from my life people and things that drain my energy. I take vacations and consciously unplug from my business for a period of time. I block off time in my schedule for these activities and commit to them. I’m a reformed WORKAHOLIC, so if I can practice self-care, I know you can too.
If you’re a small business owner and would like my support to integrate self-care into you busy schedule, call me Sue Maitland at 778-265-6680 or send a message through my website www.suematland.com and ask for a complimentary initial consultation. Together we can develop a personalized self-care plan that works for you and then you and everyone you connect with, will benefit as you show up in life as your BEST self.
©Sue Maitland ICF Certified Life & Career Transitions Coach