Q: I saw your recent post about vacation time and appreciated it. What I find myself working is if whether self-care is honestly something that fits into an entrepreneur's life. Between taking care of my family, my house, and my business, I am struggling to know how to find the time--or money. I don’t have the budget for expensive spa getaways. How can I realistically fit in self-care into my schedule and budget?
A: Thanks for your question. As women, we are responsible for taking care of so many others that we often put ourselves at the bottom of the totem pole. We’ve all been there. You've heard it before, but it’s worth repeating: you can’t take care of others until you take care of yourself.
The stressors of entrepreneurship are real. I’m not sure that we speak about this enough when we talk about the dreams of owning a business. As a small business owner, you are responsible for every single detail of your company, from conception to execution to growth. It’s rewarding, but equally demanding and isolating.
Think about it. If you worked in an office, you’d have at least one coworker to commiserate with and bounce ideas off of. As an entrepreneur, finding a network of colleagues is yet another task for which you are responsible. Burnout is a genuine possibility at any given point, and a once-a-year vacation, if you are able to take one, isn’t the full answer.
What’s a small business owner to do?
You need to find ways to regularly integrate self-care into your life. Manis and pedis are lovely, and you work hard to earn some time to indulge yourself. Unfortunately, though, they aren’t enough to revive, refresh, and reset your well-being.
What makes you forget about your worries and be fully present? What allows you to be free with no judgment or expectations? The only requirement is that you have fun.
That’s the thing you need to do regularly. There are costs involved, but this is an essential component of my self-care. The costs of not taking care of yourself are even greater.
Here are some steps so that you too can include self-care in your schedule and budget.
1. Figure out what brings you joy
There’s a lot of talk about finding what brings you joy these days. I’m no Marie Kondo but yes, tune into the activities that make your heart sing. I’m not telling you to spend money on every one of your hobbies. Instead, identify the one thing that you can’t be yourself without. The thought of living without it causes you to panic. Yeah, that one.
What makes you feel like a kid again? Find a way to incorporate that feeling into your life.
2. Identify the costs
My essential form of self-care is belly dancing. That’s right. In order to take part in this activity, I have to account for the cost of tuition for classes, my attire and babysitting.
If your activity is something that is part of a class, find out how much it costs to participate year-round. Be sure to take into account related expenses like attire, transportation, and any equipment costs there may be.
3. Create space in the budget
Now that you know the monetary cost of taking care of yourself, it’s time to look closely at your budget to determine how to make it happen. As a small business owner, your personal and business finances are interlinked, though we know that that does not mean that we co-mingle our funds! Your wellness is invaluable, and without you, there is no business. What expenses can you lessen or bypass to make up for the cost of your self-care? Take a look at your finances and determine what can be removed or lessened for you to prioritize yourself.
4. Schedule a date with yourself
Our lives are busy. After tending to our businesses and taking the kids where they need to be, getting ourselves to an activity is usually the last thing on our minds.
But for the special activity you’ve made room for in your budget, you need to create space in your schedule. Whether you use a paper calendar or online tool, know that this is an appointment that can’t be rescheduled. It’s a date with a very important person--YOU. Block out the time in your schedule and go ahead and enjoy yourself.
So what’s it going to be for you? Swimming? Hiking? Painting? Whatever your choice, I’m excited for you to notice the difference in how you feel and deal with your business. Best of luck to you!
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