(I may have paraphrased here but you get the picture).
I’d just recovered from burning out in a corporate job and was setting up my own business. Clearly, I wanted it to be successful, so I looked to the big dogs like Gary Vaynerchuk to see how they did it.
To be honest, I didn’t like what I found.
“When you have passion around something, you’ll do whatever it takes to execute on it. You’ll work and grind away until you’ve squeezed every last bit of juice out of that lemon. When you’re truly in that hustle, you are maximizing every last bit of energy you have in order to produce.” – Gary Vaynerchuk
Just reading that sentence makes me feel exhausted. Here’s another one.
“Hustling is putting every minute and all your effort into achieving the goal at hand. Every minute needs to count. There is so much hustle in my day I don’t even have a second to spare to “hang out” and catch up with the people around me.” – Gary Vaynerchuk
Eurrgh, jeez. I’m not interested in being a multi-bajillionaire if it means I drop dead from a heart attack in 10 years and my friends barely know me.
I just cannot reconcile “maximizing every last bit of energy you have in order to produce” with having a healthy and balanced life.
I do wonder about guys like Gary V etc. They must have incredibly understanding wives and perhaps they take care of everything to leave them to get on with the business.
Great for Gary but that just won’t work for me.
I can imagine the look on my partner’s face if I asked him to take care of all the shopping, cooking, washing, and life admin as I need to ‘pursue my dream’.
He wouldn’t be leaping at that wonderful-sounding life, I can tell you that much.
So what to do instead? Can you be successful without working yourself into the ground?
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“We are living under the collective delusion, that in order to succeed we have to burnout along the way” – Arianna Huffington
Arianna collapsed from exhaustion in 2007, 2 years into launching Huffington Post. She broke her cheekbone and had stitches above her eye.
It was after this that she decided to change the way she viewed success and started to include wellness as a major component to succeed in business, and in life.
Arianna is a huge advocate of having enough sleep, exercising, practicing meditation, and eating healthily.
“I can tell you with authority that when I’m exhausted, when I’m running on empty, I’m the worst version of myself,” says Huffington
Sleep is one of the most important contributors to being productive, creative and focused when you are building a business (or trying to do anything!).
And it isn’t just Arianna who feels this way.
“Eight hours of sleep makes a big difference for me, and I try hard to make that a priority,” “For me, that’s the needed amount to feel energized and excited.” – Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos for Thrive Global.
Bill Gates has also said he can’t think creatively if he hasn’t had enough rest.
So, sleep isn’t just for wimps or people who aren’t ‘passionate’ or ‘driven’ enough. It is possible to run global companies and still snuggle down in your duvet for 8 hours.
You may think you have to do 1001 things for your business every day but they won’t all have the same impact on your success.
If you choose the 3 main focuses of your business, you can check each task on your to-do list against each focus. If it isn’t contributing to your 3 key metrics, should you really be doing it?
Traffic is one of my main focuses at the moment, I am using Pinterest, Medium, and Google to drive traffic. I tried to introduce Instagram but after a few weeks I realised it wasn’t driving any people to my site, so I stopped posting on it.
I could bust my gut trying to get Instagram posts out every day to grow my brand, but the ROI isn’t high enough at the moment.
When starting your business, you will probably be bootstrapping like me (starting with as little money as possible) and therefore won’t have the money to hire anyone.
As soon as you start to earn, invest that back into the business by outsourcing anything that you don’t need to do yourself.
I am just starting to reach the point where I could hire a social media manager or virtual assistant. Pinning to Pinterest and importing stories to Medium etc does not need to be done by me.
It is also extremely time-consuming and I could be using that time to grow the business, or go to the gym, or whatever ever else I need to do.
So much time gets sucked by going grocery shopping, cleaning the house, and all the other life admin tasks that seem to get in the way of what we really want to do.
Do whatever you can do to free up time in your day. Batch cook meals, get a recipe box, get a cleaner, sign up for a meal planning service.
The more you streamline the life admin stuff, the more time you have for your business.
I have written a post which has lots more ideas on how to simplify your life below.
One of the things that makes it hard for me to switch off is the thought that there is never enough time. That there are so many things to do that I have to keep working in order to fit it all in.
I’ve been trying to make peace with the fact that even if I only worked 9-5 every day, eventually it would all still get done.
Yes, my to-do list stretches to Australia, but by prioritising tasks, I do get to them all at some point.
The other story I used to tell myself is that if I didn’t work like a rabbit on speed, I would lose momentum and get lazy.
This is a very bad story to tell yourself, in the end, I just had to trust that working a little slower would not mean that I would stop working on my business. I would just be more sensible about how I used my time.
Don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to do everything all at once. You need to be realistic about what you can achieve in a day.
I usually manage 3 tasks. Two are usually quite chunky and then one smaller task. I just don’t have the energy to do much more than that as that is a good 8 hours of work.
Keeping your to-do list to 3 tasks also forces you to ruthlessly prioritise and cut out the fluff.
You don’t need any fancy planners or apps, I just use a scrappy notebook and pen. I have a rough plan for the month and then translate that into daily to-dos.
Planning out the month (by printing out a google calendar and scribbling on it) is a great way to see whether your goals for the month are realistic.
Arianna takes this pretty far, she tucks her phone into its own charging ‘bed’ at night.
She suggests that all digital devices should be stored away from the bedroom to allow you to fully wind down and sleep better.
Anything read before bed should be a physical book that has nothing to do with work. That way your mind shifts from ‘work mode’ to ‘relax mode’.
You probably started your business to have a better work-life balance. Perhaps you were fed up with the corporate grind and wanted to be able to have a life outside of work.
Starting your own business does not mean we have to use every ounce of energy we have to build the business. In fact, this can be counterproductive.
Three-quarters of startups fail, and many of the people who start them are burning the candle at both ends, so maybe it’s time to reconsider the collective delusion that the only way to succeed is to work 24/7. Arianna Huffington to Inc Magazine
It’s not that you can’t be successful by working 24/7, of course, you can, many people have. But I can’t see how it’s sustainable.
Sure, you could absolutely smash it for a while but you would still need a break at some point.
I would rather try and build my business in a calm and consistent manner. That doesn’t mean I am not passionate about my business. It means that I value my health and relationships as much as I value my business.
I’m not gonna lie, I don’t find it easy as I am a workaholic by nature. Therefore I find it very difficult to switch off.
But, by changing old workaholic habits and introducing new, calmer ones, my business will grow without killing me in the process.
Here are some other posts to help you!
Hi, I am Laura. I set up the 'I Want My Life Back Project' after burning out in a corporate job. I quit in May 2017 and set about getting my life back. I now freelance 2 days a week, run this blog, manage my rental properties and am SO MUCH HAPPIER! All the content on this blog is to help you to get your life back too :-)