Unearthed Series - THREE steps that you can begin taking TODAY that will alleviate your stress!
With our last few conversations trudging us through some of the honest depths of what it looks like to be an entrepreneur, I wanted to shift gears and use today as an opportunity to put into practice some real-world PRACTICAL and immediate calls to action that we can begin to implement into our lives and routines right now that will begin to release some of that pent up pressure and stress that’s been building up.
It’s easy to find blog posts scattering the internet that share some tips to be more productive while working from home, or to manage your stress by taking a computer break and walking outside for 10 minutes, but honestly how practical and effective is that advice, truly?
I know that advice such as what I listed above are well-intentioned, but when it comes to being an entrepreneur, we need to be able to make meaningful shifts and adjustments in our workflows and lifestyles in order to be able to continue to sustain our lifestyles and the flux and flow of our working seasons.
Entrepreneurship is often seasonal, whether we’re a photographer or otherwise, not knowing when or where your next payment is going to be coming from is stressful, and can often take a toll on our mental state (whether consciously or subconsciously) which can then begin to manifest itself into a physical form in ways such as: irritability, impatience, stress headaches, and the list goes on.
Step ONE - pay yourself regularly:
The biggest and best step that I ever did for my stress and worry levels, was to set up a bi-monthly automated deposit from my business account to my personal account, just like there would be if I were to be working for someone as their employee.
Before then, I would withdraw money as I needed it to pay for our expenses, but that often left me with more expenses than it did money, simply because there was no rhyme or reason as to why money was being withdrawn. There was no budget or limit; if I needed money, I would move it over, which resulted in not being able to keep very good track of our spending.
I started by calculating our cost of living and by totalling up everything that we needed to be paying for every month to sustain our basics (i.e mortgage, bills, payments, etc) and then supplementing that number with an educated guess of fluctuating costs (such as groceries and other expenditures), I was able to come up with a number that I knew we needed in our personal accounts in order to sustain our current lifestyle. I broke that number into two, and that was how I decided how much my “paycheck” would be every two weeks.
Now, as opposed to manually moving money around at any day or time that I needed it, it was being withdrawn and deposited automatically, without me even having to think about it, and most importantly, regardless of which season of work I am currently it--being it feast or famine--it’s reassuring that I can always count on the money that we need to be in our account when we need it to be.
Step TWO - give work and life separation an honest go.
For the next week, I want you to implement some strict business hours that you are going to adhere to for the next seven days.
We talked about this last week, but I feel as though this might be something that I need to reiterate in order to fully accentuate the importance of this step: you are not your work, and your work is not you. You do not need to cater to your clients at every moment of every day. You do not need to be available to them at every waking minute; you are not their bottomless beckon call resource.
If you haven’t already done so, turn off the notifications that are coming to your phone (yes, all of them). Take away the red bubbles that appear over your email icon, disable the instagram notifications; just turn off anything that catches your eye throughout the day - you do not need to instantaneously know your likes and comments as they happen.
Once you’ve done that, pick the hours this week that you want to work; choose what you want your week to look like, write it out in your planner, and then the hardest part: stick to it. This means that when it’s time to work, buckle down and do the work, and then when work time is over, disengage from work thoughts. Do something that isn’t connected to your work, and do it fully.
I know that right now you’re saying: “but Kaihla I love my work so much that it doesn’t even feel like work - I’m so passionate about it and it’s so much fun….”. That doesn’t matter right now.
For the sake of this truly to begin to allow your stress to dissipate, you have to commit to the separation. I know that you love your job; how incredibly fortunate are we to be able to work in a space that we absolutely adore so much so that it doesn't feel like work; but regardless of how much you love what you do, that doesn’t make you exempt from needing time away.
Over the last two years, I’ve learned to work when it’s time to work, and to play when it’s time to play (honestly, having kids was what made me realize the importance of building in a distinct separation); you won’t find me answering emails while I’m out camping or at the playground, or attempting to blur the lines and blend the to “just because I’m an entrepreneur and I have the flexibility to do so”.
The half-hearted, multi-tasking mindset that leads us to believe that we can spread ourselves thin and do “all of the things” for “all of the people” is driving our work and play into the ground.
You can love your work and still disconnect for it.
You can love your life and still enjoy doing the work.
Step THREE - start taking responsibility
We refuse to take responsibility for the state of our business.
Regardless of how much or little effort we are currently putting into what we’re doing, we could expand upon a laundry list of reasons (which are really excuses), for why things aren’t going our way.
Let me see if I can knock off a few of those reasons here for you as to why you haven’t been booking as much this season:
The economy was going through a rough patch
My ideal clients don’t live where I live
There are too many other people in my area who offer the same product/service as me
I’m just not comfortable going on instagram stories
My life isn’t that interesting so I have nothing to share on social media
Any of those sound familiar?
We refuse to take responsibility for the state of our business, because the truth is, we are afraid of our own potential.
What you have inside of you scares you.
What you know you are capable of scares you.
Stepping into the truest version of yourself scares you.
Where you sit today - literally and figuratively - feels safe; but safe can often mean stagnant, which is perhaps why you aren’t feeling as though your business is moving forward as much as you would like it to.
Your business won’t work unless you do.
After you finish this email, I want you to get out paper and a pen, and begin to brainstorm all of the things in your business that YOU have control over. What are you able to adjust and change? What steps do you have control over taking?
From those steps, begin to expand in a practical way and branch out with timelines and goals towards action and tangible progress. Give your processes timelines and dates, and slowly but surely, begin those shifts. Remember what we talked about in an earlier email? It’s by walking forward through your biggest moments of fear and uncertainty that you open yourself up to the biggest strides of growth.
If you want to thrive through a healthy business and make changes towards that growth, then you’re going to need to do something that you haven’t done before; change doesn’t happen by deciding to stay the same.
I know that as entrepreneurs it can often feel like we need to operate our lives around social media, the schedules of others, and are often the victim of circumstance, but there are ways that we can thrive as people and business owners, without being swallowed or victimized by the buzz of the entrepreneurial lifestyle.
You don’t have to serve a million followers, or be the next big “influencer”, you just have to serve yourself first, and then serve your own niche to the best of your ability. You don’t need more, you simply need to invest more into your “right now”.
If you would like feedback on the brainstorm mindmap that you’re going to be jotting out in the third step of this email, I would love to give you real life feedback on your steps and plans towards change - once you’re done writing out your brainstorm, snap a photo of it and send it back my way by replying to this email; I’d love to help propel you forwards.
I’d also love to know what about this series that you’ve connected with the most so far. Hit REPLY now, and let me in on what has resonated with you so far!
Always in your corner,
If these emails have been resonating strongly with a part of yourself, I would absolutely love if you would take a read through something that I have coming at the end of September. I've been working to build something that I feel would serve whoever felt like they needed a supportive and unwavering helping hand to navigate through the struggles and shifts of what it means to be an entrepreneur, and throughout my newly constructed mentoring program that is coming next month, I feel as though this intensive program might be just what you are looking for.
The reason I am bringing it all up so soon, is that I want to give everyone the opportunity to be able to think on this + gather the resources to be able to agree to this offering long before registration opens. One of my favourite parts of this brand new offering is the FREE one-day entrepreneur workshop/retreat for all of my mentoring alumnis happening here in Calgary in July of 2020.
Please take a few moments to read more about Unearthed, the mentoring program. And as always, please hit 'reply' and send any + all of your questions back my way.