Yesterday I did the impossible: in this mamapreneur world where I live, I actually finished a project early! I completed it a full two days ahead of schedule, and without missing a beat, immediately moved on to the next.
It wasn’t until I was an hour into my next article that I realized what I was doing. I wasn’t stopping to acknowledge the accomplishment. I hadn’t even taken a breath, let alone allowed myself to soak up this win.
As ambitious business owners and freelancers, we’re not used to slowing down. There are always new posts to share, new clients to reach out to, and new blogs to write. The to-do list will literally never be completed, so how do we keep from constantly feeling behind and exhausted?
The answer is self-care — but I’m not talking about a weekly pedicure or coffee date. I’m talking about prioritizing yourself and your health so that you can go on to make the difference in this world that you were born to make. Here are five steps to get you started.
Plan Your Ideal Day
Most of us stay on task by mapping out each day of the week, but have you ever spent time envisioning your perfect day? If anything were possible, what would you want to be doing at 6am on Monday mornings? What about 2pm on Wednesdays? Start getting super clear on how you want to spend your days, because this will help you build your framework for a satisfying week.
Maybe you won’t be able to completely overhaul your entire schedule, but planning your ideal day will give you a picture of how close you are to your dreams. It could also be a wake-up call that it’s time to make changes. If you realize that you’d love to go to an early morning yoga class, but never seem to make it, it’s time to make it a priority. If not now, when?
Prioritize Your List
Because the to-do list is literally never-ending, we need to have very clear priorities and boundaries. This will help you make progress on what’s important, rather than getting sidetracked every time your phone buzzes or dings.
Take some time to think about the key activities that move your business forward. Prioritize those activities before anything else in your business. For me, those priorities are writing and reaching out to new clients. When I am consistently working on both those activities, I see progress without feeling stretched too thin. When I allow myself to become distracted by the latest social media channel or webinar, I quickly go into overwhelm and shut down. Focus on your priority areas to save your precious energy.
Eat That Frog
So much of our mental energy is drained by indecision and procrastination. We have all had that experience of knowing we need to make a call or write a report, but pushing it off to the following day, only to end up feeling even more behind and stressed about it.
One of the kindest things you can do for yourself is to start the day with one task you have been putting off. This starts your day with a major win and gives you momentum to accomplish even more.
Set Yourself Up for Success
Once you identify the priority areas in your life and business, stack your day to support those tasks. Spend a few minutes each night planning out your day and setting out your clothes. Think about times in the day when you may get tripped up and make a mental plan for how to tackle them.
If you feel awesome every time you wake up at 5 am to meditate, but most days end up pushing the snooze button, try moving your alarm across the room. Do whatever you can to support yourself in making healthy changes for you and your career.
Our brains are designed to seek pleasure and avoid pain, so rewarding yourself for your hard work is one of the fastest ways to success and satisfaction. Break your goals down into mini-steps and plan rewards along the way. Your reward for finally writing that proposal could be an hour of reading in bed with coffee. Writing your content calendar could mean taking the night off to veg in front of the TV. Your rewards don’t have to be huge or cost anything. Just make sure you’re giving your overworked brain a rest.
Regular self-care takes commitment and discipline, but is the only path to true happiness in your business. Keep reminders around of why you are building your business and how it supports your life. Then unplug and go do those things. Your career will be happily waiting for you when you get back.