About every quarter, just like clockwork, I find myself thinking (or actually saying), “I am too busy to stop (take a vacation, rest, pause).” Although I am living it and, in some ways, created it, the “I can’t stop working,” feeling always seems to sneak up on me at the most unexpected times. It is the most predictable surprise, which makes it even more annoying.
The “alert moment” comes in various forms: having a major meltdown (yes, sloppy tears), being overwhelmed to physically move, staring at a TO DO list a mile long and not knowing where to start (so just not doing anything) and/or not acknowledging AT ALL how much I have done, how far I have come and how many women I have served through my early breast cancer detection business (Night Out with “The Girls”).
All of this is a good indication that something is wildly off balance, priorities are not in-line and I have lost sight of my own personal wellness.
One would think that I would be more cognizant of this given that I am the CEO and Founder of a virtual wellness experience. However, there is some major irony in the fact that, YES (confession time), I can easily sacrifice my own physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being in an effort to keep the business moving forward and checking off the TO DOs on the list.
I am continuing to learn that it is possible to have too much of a good thing, and that is true in the entrepreneurial space too. It is true EVEN WHEN you are working your tail off to educate every.single.woman in the entire country about how to detect breast cancer early. It is incredibly easy to use that noble “cause” as an excuse to work non-stop.
In fact, when you LOVE what you do, when work is an absolute joy, when you are living out your passion as an entrepreneur, managing “too much of a good thing,” almost needs extra attention and discipline.
When I don’t intentionally, enthusiastically rest and pause from the day-to-day stress (including the good stress) from being an entrepreneur, that doesn’t help anyone. It doesn’t help me as the CEO, as a friend, sister, girlfriend, colleague and person…who needs and deserves the precious mental break.
When I don’t take time to rest, I have also noticed my productivity, problem-solving skills, efficiency, mental clarity and time management suffer. Forgetting to “pause” makes it harder for me to lead Night Out with “The Girls” in the most impactful, effective way, where I am operating 100 percent. Ultimately, it also does not help my clients and all of the women I am trying to serve.
In fact, according to the Greater Good Science Center magazine article, “rest has a bad rap in our culture. Most of us think about rest as merely the absence of work—not something valuable in its own right. Sometimes, it’s even equated with laziness. But nothing could be further from the truth. Rest is an essential component of working well and working smart…rest helps us to think, innovate, and increase our productivity, and what we can do to rest more effectively.”
I am constantly working on pausing from the entrepreneurial craziness, and honestly, I am not sure if I will ever master it. However, I am striving for awareness, not perfection. Below are a few strategies that I use to “practice the pause” in my own life:
Calendar It: Yep, put it in your calendar! Be generous with your time! Yes, it may seem counterintuitive to block this time, especially when you are feeling overwhelmed. However, the pause really will positively impact productivity. Lastly, view this “appointment” as the most important thing on your calendar. Meaning, it is non-negotiable. Don’t get stuck in the trap of scheduling the time, then sacrificing it for someone or something else (this is one of my biggest challenges).
Get an Accountability Partner: Those who have participated in a NOWTG virtual wellness event know that we are all about accountability partners. In the early breast cancer detection world, we call these accountability partners “boobie buddies”. No matter the term, the point is to have someone you trust in your life, who has your best interests at heart and who will not be afraid to remind you to do, the sometimes tough things (take time away, make a mammogram appointment, do breast self-exams, etc.) that are key to physical, mental and emotional well-being. Also, try not to argue with your accountability partner (I may know “someone” who does that. Ha).
Create a Joy List: Know in advance what activities give you joy, help you relax, foster more balance (physically, mentally and emotionally). The worst is making time to pause then, because you are not used to having the time for yourself, not having any idea what to do with it. Maybe it is an outdoor activity, reading, getting a massage, taking a long bubble bath, making a new recipe, doing something artistic (I have found painting rocks to be crazy relaxing).
Don’t Invite Anyone to the “Practice the Pause” Party: It is super easy for social butterflies to want to “pause” with friends or family. Believe me, I understand that, especially because one activity that brings me joy is spending time with friends and family. However, I have found that this should be time just for you, where you can do what you want, when you want and how you want. This becomes virtually impossible when others are involved.
It is so incredibly freeing to know that I can be an entrepreneur, have a never-ending giant list of things to do, an incredibly full calendar, be successful AND pause. It does not have to be, and shouldn’t be, an EITHER/OR situation. I can also have regularly-scheduled appointments in my calendar with myself (for myself) without guilt, excuses, shame or needing to justify why this is so very important.
As entrepreneurs and leaders, let’s shift our focus from what did I accomplish to how did I take care of myself. This small shift could result in fantastic results in your business, organization, and how you operate professionally (and personally) and as a leader.
Jessica Sidener – CEO and Founder of Night Out with “The Girls”