As you know, I’m a super cheerleader for people who want to make their healthy biz dreams come true, and do all I can to help make that happen – but I caution you that it could totally ruin your health. Having been in business for myself since 2008, I have learned this firsthand. I bite off more than I can chew on the regular. Though I would never work through the night, I have had countless sleepless nights due to work.
I went into all of this wanting to be a nutritionist. I wanted to teach people how to cook and inspire a passion, love and joy for it. But I couldn’t do that on the scale I was driven to without also becoming something else. I also became a business woman. Alongside that, I became a course producer, a video editor, a photographer, a writer and author, a manager, a marketing director, a CEO, and an HR department.
I’ve learned how to hire people, and unfortunately, also had to learn how to fire people. I’ve also learned how to run payroll, locate discrepancies in monthly bookkeeping, analyze opportunity costs, and truly maximize my time to spend it doing the things that are of greatest value (meaning, stopping busy work and doing more big and deep work).
I have learned how to ask for big things and be okay with not always getting them. I have also learned how to pace my ambition, let things go, and most importantly, recognize that I am not the best woman for every job within my company. I have learned how to ask for and accept help. I have created a whole lot of freedom in my life in the process. I can work from anywhere most of the time. That is awesome. I have also learned that my efforts can directly result in increased income. That’s a nice perk, too.
Most importantly, I have learned that all of this also requires very firm boundaries and self-imposed limits. Yes, I can work from anywhere, but even better is being on holidays and not having to work. Can I work from the beach, or the forest or the mountains? You bet I can – however, that means missing out on beach-time, forest-time and mountain-time. Can I work longer hours, evenings and weekends and generate more revenue? Yessireee – and by doing so, I’d be creating a dramatic imbalance in my life, and missing out on the time in between which is what life is all about.
I can do all of the jobs I outlined above, and I have and enjoy them all. That doesn’t mean I should do them all and for this reason, I have also learned how to delegate and manage a team. Sometimes I do it really well, sometimes not so well. I am still learning all of it.
Running your own business can be the greatest thing in the whole world. Pardon the brutal honesty here, but the very same things that can make you succeed, can cause you to destroy your health, your personal life, your wellbeing and your truest sense of fulfillment and happiness.
It’s true. Pay attention.
Having a business you love, that gives you a sense of purpose and makes you feel like you are making a difference, is a huge contributing factor to total health. The challenge is that too many people allow it do the opposite. Finding that fine line can be the greatest business lesson of all.
Here are some strategies I have employed to help me keep it all in perspective and maintain balance and happiness in both my work life and my home life.
5 Tips to Ensure A Healthy Body and A Healthy Business
1. Set Limits
Dream big. Really, really big. In all things. Then decide what you are willing and not willing to do to make that happen and stick to it. Are you not willing to work past 6:00pm? Don’t. Are you determined to take one full weekend off a month? Do it. How about every weekend? Count me in! When working with companies, are you willing to endorse them because their values work with your values? Do it. Are you not willing to endorse a product, despite the moolah because they offend your values? Stick to it. Your reputation, sanity and breathing space depend on it – and so does your health!
2. Take A Break
Make it a priority every day, every week, every month and for a good chunk of time every year to completely disconnect. You must give yourself space to maintain your sanity or none of the joys of rocking a big business, and life dreams, will happen. A proper lunch break also falls into this category. Take time every day to get nourished!
3. Pause For The Wins
It can be easy to get caught up in the go-go-go of it all. Set yourself some manageable milestones along the way. You won’t go from 0 to 7-figures, from one sale to a thousand, or even from one customer to a loyal community overnight. It takes time, persistence, discipline and the self-motivation to show up every single day and do something to move it all forward. And so we set milestones, benchmarks and goals to hit along the way. When we hit those marks, we have to celebrate. Take a step back and celebrate getting from A-B, B-C and so on. Take a break to celebrate the wins, and then show up again the next day to get on with it.
4. Find Your Inspiration Community
These friends don’t have to work beside you, or even in the same industry. These friends are other people also rocking out their own life dreams, who understand why you can’t be out late on a Saturday night (with a deadline looming), and why you are driven to keep learning, growing, challenging yourself and getting better. Find a community of people who inspire you, who share openly and honestly, and will take your support as much as they lend their own. This isn’t an accountability group. If you want to make this work, a lot of the accountability is up to you to work out. This is a group that shows you where you can do more, be better, grow and learn. These social interactions are fuel for every cell in your body and are vital to keep you inspired to keep going.
5. Keep Fuelling Your Life
You cannot sacrifice sleep, real food, real fun, fresh air, nature and hydration for your business. Your business will only ever be as healthy and thriving as you are. As you are getting going, your energy level directly affects the energy in your business. You set the tone. If you burn yourself out, there will be no more fuel in the tank to keep the engine of your business humming. When our health suffers, all aspects of our lives suffer. Make your health a habit, tune in and take the breaks, the rests, the trips to the market, you need to have the food, rest and recovery that we need to truly feel well and to thrive.
I have been doing this for over thirteen years. I have made many, many, many, costly mistakes. I have worked 20 hour days. I have learned to say yes! And mean it. And I had to learn how to say no, and be okay with that too. Running your own business is really flipping hard, and at the same time, but also, for me, the greatest thing in the whole wide world. I wouldn’t trade it for anything, but also wouldn’t wish it upon anyone who wasn’t ready to take on all the adventure and the unknowns that comes with it!
With over a decade under my belt, I feel like I am only now finding my groove, finding the balance, sitting with the inspiration and letting projects take the time they need. I think I’ve gotten better at caring for my business and for my team – but I think it’s happened only as I’ve gotten better at caring for myself.
I can’t say I loved every minute, but the bits that I didn’t love, I definitely learned from and I am healthier for the whole experience.
What is your best tip for keeping healthy when other stuff seems determined to get in your way?
11 responses to “Is running your own business bad for your health?”
This is so incredibly inspiring.
I always say “stick to your principles” when I hear myself or others talk of making seemingly small sacrifices that in the end will add up and really dig a big hole in either their dreams, or their self-worth, or their health or sanity, ect.
I know that as soon as my day starts I will never take a moment to meditate, stop or relax so as soon as I get up I spend 10 minutes (setting my alarm 10 – 20 min earlier if necessary) breathing, and doing some light stretches and movement, sometimes I don’t even leave the bed! Other times I roll out my yoga mat. I set my alarm for 10 minutes so I can just focus without worrying what time it is or when I have to stop. :)
Hey Meghan! As a female entreprenuer, I totally agree with every key point you mentioned! It is so true that your health is always number one, even before your business, and setting limits is the key to living a balanced lifestyle..and one that your associates will respect you more for!
Thanks for the great reminders and advice! Kate
This is right on the mark Meghan. I am celebrating my 5th anniversary this January as well when I stepped away from the indoor gym and branched out to create my own fit and health organization. For two years I lost total sight of how to do what you highlight above and finally, this year, I am at peace. In addition to everything you said, my mantra is “kindness to self” and I actually decided what this meant in my life and apply it always. Number one is always having an amazing novel at my bedside to escape for even 10 minutes, number two is making no apologies ever for spending money on the best food and number three is asking for what I need to stay healthy, even if it is uncomfortable to speak up for myself. My health is number one if my business is to continue and if my marriage is to flourish and children grow.
YES! I am with you on all three of those two. That book is a non-negotiable for me too.
I think these tips apply to anyone who works. Having a job & working for someone else can also be really bad for your health, maybe even more so because of the lack of personal power & choice at times. Stressful though it may be, I would much rather have my own business than be under a “boss”.
This is exactly what I needed to read right now. Thank you!
What resonates with me most is your advice to not quit. I’ve been working for myself for about 7 months. I haven’t wanted to give up…but it does keep me going to remember that my commitment to this business & myself will pay off soon enough.
Another thing I do for my health is yoga. Life is so much better when I’m consistently practicing yoga : )
Your friend Becca told me about your web site and I am so happy to have found it and have read this post. Like you I healed my “incurable” severe digestive issues (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) about 7 years ago and am symptom-free to this day.
The business I started 6 months ago (Do It Yourself Health) help people heal their own digestive issues by giving them the guidance and resources they need to heal themselves. I love my work with a passion but I have turned into a workaholic and have trouble taking vacations. I want my business to succeed so badly and I feel compelled to work all the time. I find balance by practicing a moving meditation called Qi Gong but I have thrown myself out of balance a few times due to overwork.
This is ironic for a health coach. Luckily I have the foundation and resources to get myself back into balance before my health is adversely affected. My business has inspired me to eat healthier and to tackle mindset monsters. And your post has inspired me to set boundaries for taking time off. I would really, really love to know more about your journey and the mistakes that you made.
I am sure a lot of business owners would too. It is so great to learn from others without going down that path ourselves. Thanks again for this wonderful post.
This was an awesome article Meghan! You hit so many key points. Things you can only learn from being in the trenches, fighting the battles and learning the hard way.
We might be facing bankruptcy (recession in Alberta, difficulties in the US market) this year after 6 years in our current business. We have a total of 15 years as entrepreneurs and have learned A LOT! Most of it has been the hard way.
We know that whatever happens this year, our years of learning will push us into our next adventure because we couldn’t imagine doing anything else.