I find one of the biggest challenges for me personally and as a business owner is knowing when to quit or not. I have a lifelong habit of pushing myself too hard in most things.
When I worked for someone else, I could ask for help, in theory at least. As a small business owner, I’m the one who sets my workload and my deadlines. And it turns out I’m not the kindest boss.
Pushing Myself Till I Get Sick
In the fall, I was seeing massage and private yoga clients, working to bring in new clients, teaching 4 yoga classes a week, and taking a business-related class to improve my skills. Plus, I volunteered to give a presentation on self-care for business owners. That’s when I got sick because I wasn’t taking care of myself, ironically enough. I kept wondering, Am I doing enough? My response was always, NO, do more! So, I did.
I hadn’t caught a cold in years because I’d learned to notice the early-warning signs and take steps to neutralize it. But this cold hit me like a truck in November and I was coughing and sneezing for a week and a half. That meant, of course, that I needed to take time off to rest and reschedule clients. Not the most productive decision, as it turns out, to keep pushing myself to DO MORE.
Then there was the yoga class I was teaching at the VA. I really wanted to quit. Very few veterans were showing up for class. Some would walk out in the middle of class. I felt like I wasn’t helping anyone, that I wasn’t the right fit for the class, and I should just give up already. Never mind that I’m a veteran, that one of the populations I wanted to work with ever since yoga teacher training was veterans, or that I had received additional training in trauma-sensitive yoga, so I could work with people with PTSD.
I wanted to quit so badly, even though I really don’t like being a quitter.
Ask Yourself One Question: What’s My Motivation?
Both of these things were coming to a head just as I was contemplating starting a small law practice to work with health & wellness business owners. I was scared and not sure I was ready for it. That’s when I turned to Carolyn Myss’s book Anatomy of the Spirit (Three Rivers Press 1996), and came across these words:
“It is not what we choose that matters; our power to influence an outcome lies in our reasons for making a certain choice.”
I reflected on what my reasons were for the issues I was facing in life and business:
1.) Pushing myself so hard in my business: fear. I was afraid I wasn’t doing enough, and my ego convinced me to do more, which caused me to deplete myself so much I got sick.
2.) Wanting to quit teaching yoga at the VA: fear. I was afraid I wasn’t good enough and that someone else could do a better job than me.
3.) Starting my own law practice: love. I love the law, and I missed it, even though I had a lot of fears about returning to the practice of law.
Time to Make Changes
Based on these reflections, I had to make some changes. I changed my schedule on Thursdays, so I don’t feel so tired by the time I teach yoga at the VA. I set aside time that day to focus on business matters rather than seeing clients. This allows me to get work done but still have energy for my students. I also released my expectations around the class; I just show up for whoever wants to practice yoga that day. I also try to take better care of myself by preparing home-cooked meals, getting enough rest, and taking time away from my business. And yes, I started my law practice despite my fears.
I’m a work in progress, in life and business, just like you. I encourage you to ask yourself what your motivation is the next time you’re facing a decision – love or fear? Your reasons make all the difference.
Question for reflection: How does it feel different to make a decision from a place of love rather than fear?
© 2018 Rachel Regenold