When I thought about leaving my 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. to start my entrepreneurial journey, one of the perks of making my own hours was freedom. Freedom from the constrictions of going to the office every day. Freedom to pick up my girls from school whenever I wanted to. Freedom to work out at 9 a.m. or 3 p.m. or whenever the heck I wanted to. Freedom to be healthier. And as I reflect on the 2 years that I’ve been an entrepreneur running Earfluence, that’s all happened, sure. I’m definitely free to do what I want, except…well, as an entrepreneur, sometimes all you want to do is work on the business.
And the being-healthier part, habits like exercise and sleep and disconnecting from it all, not so much. General wellness can easily fall by the wayside.
Balancing wellness and entrepreneurship is something that every entrepreneur must do in their own way, and I sat down with Betr Health’s Dr. Bill Ferro, Caren DeCesaris and Caitlin Brauner on the Quacks and Hypochondriacs to talk a bit more about these issues and how to resolve them.
For outsiders, entrepreneurship can often seem ideal in many ways. You can run your own business, set your own hours and generally have more flexibility. However, starting a business is hard work, and I increasingly found myself working early in the morning and late into the night, devoting all the remaining time to my family.
“But at the same time, it is a challenge,” I said to Dr. Ferro. “I mean, you think you have all this time, right? Because you make your own hours, but to figure out when you can actually go for a run when you can actually make time for yourself, because everything, every free moment that you have for me anyway, is about the business or looking after my kids and spending time with my family.”
So, even with the flexibility of choosing my own hours and all the other perks of entrepreneurship, I was working more and harder than ever before, leaving room for little else. This is a common trap experienced by many entrepreneurs, only exacerbated by the pandemic. As entrepreneurs, we are responsible for our business, and that feeling of responsibility can often turn into an all-consuming whirlpool of overwork and stress.
In particular, ever since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020, many people have been working from home. But this necessary precaution has had some side effects: the inability to “log off” or stop thinking about work outside of normal working hours, like we would in more normal circumstances, for one. The fact that our home is also our workspace means that prioritizing things like health and wellness fall even further down the priority scale.
Additionally, entrepreneurship inherently focuses on what could or should happen in the future, rather than what is occurring in the present. Health is something that many entrepreneurs think about as a reward, or something that will come after they sell their first company or build a successful business, rather than something that should be maintained throughout their lives and not dependent on success.
“I think the topic speaks to a lot of entrepreneurs who are putting their head down,” Dr. Ferro said. “They’re working their butt off and they’re like, I will be healthy when; when I sell for $20 million, and I picture myself having a chef and yoga people everywhere and moving to Costa Rica. I will be healthy then, and I think that is the dream and the offset. And then the reality, what is it doing to squash that dream by not being healthy now? What are we actually sacrificing and giving up and what will happen and at the end of that road, how has that maybe even keeping us from getting there versus I think I’m doing this best for the company? I might as well just stay up two more hours and knock this out at two in the morning, even though tomorrow is going to be horrible, because when I sell, then I’ll be healthy.”
The point is, health and wellness should always be a priority, not an afterthought, because it can affect how you’re running your business and your performance as an entrepreneur both now and in the future. Prioritizing wellness and self-care can help you be the best entrepreneur and business owner that you can be, and therefore can make you more successful in the long run.
But how can you prioritize your health and wellness as a busy entrepreneur? Here are some strategies the Betr team and I discussed on the podcast.
- Use the Right Tools
- A good tool can work wonders for streamlining and making your business run more efficiently. Certain softwares or websites, for example – even sites like fiverr or upwork – can make all the difference. Personally, I use a program to help match my podcast clients with new guest and speaking opportunities. Using this system has allowed me to expand and take on more clients and opportunities, as well as saved me a lot of work hours and mental stress.
- Take time for self check-ins
- Take a moment for yourself every once in a while to check-in with yourself and how you’re feeling. These check-ins can be used to make sure that you are staying aligned with your goals, as well as checking that you are still passionate about what you are doing entrepreneurially. Allowing yourself these check-ins will help you stay on the path that you love and are passionate about, and to not waste time on things that you only think you should be doing. Carve out time for yourself
- When you’re off the clock, be off the clock
- It can be tempting to just quickly check your messages or write off a few emails, even when you’re meant to be off the clock. Even if your work necessitates long or strange hours, make sure to take an hour or two in the day to exercise, meditate, or some other activity that helps you relax and recharge, in addition to family time and other non-work events.
- Be mindful of what you’re putting into your body
- I know when I’m eating healthy (fruits, vegetables, water, staying away from processed junk and alcohol), I’m mentally sharp, I fall asleep faster, and I just feel better about myself. And you know, all the years of my life that I lose because of the stress of entrepreneurship, maybe I can get them back with clean eating. Maybe?
Ultimately, individual health and wellness is as unique as each entrepreneur. There is no set standard or formula for leading a healthy life, but certain things can help. Understanding yourself, how you work and what you value will allow you to build a healthy life as an entrepreneur, and, ultimately, that effort will be reflected in your business and entrepreneurial endeavors.
It’s a struggle that will always be a work in progress for me, but one of the reasons I love podcasting is because I get to hear—and sometimes be a part of—conversations like these that help me grow and, hopefully, be healthier for it.