Self-employment can be a wonderful thing, especially as a working parent who needs flexibility. However, time and time again, I can see the one thing that gets sacrificed is self-care. When someone owns the role of entrepreneur, on top of their other responsibilities, be it Mum, Dad, Friend, Spouse, Chief PTA cake maker or carer, then the “me” gets pushed way, way down the list.
When I talk about self-care, I’m not talking about bubble baths and exercise classes (although both are useful in their own way) I am talking about the fundamental issue of not looking after yourself; physically or mentally. Not giving your needs any time. Living and working on autopilot. The self is self-employment doesn’t really get a look in!
I recently read WE: A Manifesto for Women Everywhere by Gillian Anderson (yes, THAT G Anderson of X-Files fame) and Jennifer Nadel. What began as a Balance Collective Book Club read, ended up being quite a revelation. I read this over the festive break of 2017; my second Christmas as a business owner and where I gave myself two-weeks off. I proudly put on my out of office and settled back for Baileys and Books.
Every day, I would look through my social media channels, from Facebook to Instagram, keeping in touch with friends and family over the period. However, after a while, comparisonitis would creep in and I would question myself. Should I be “hustling more”, taking time to work on business? Am I giving my girls THE BEST Christmas experience ever? (In fairness, when I asked them, the daily jammies and films schedule suited them down to the ground!)
It was at that point I picked up WE and dived right in! The book details “9 Principles for a more meaningful life”. I feel like my life is pretty meaningful, I think I was attracted more to the manifesto element. With the political and social events of 2017, I needed a book like this to help me work my way through my feeling!
Anderson and Nadel are quoted during the promotion of the book that “success couldn’t fix our insecurity” and I found that such an interesting launch off point! It comes as no surprise that this book is very authentic, with raw admissions of life struggles by both authors as well as a spiritual undertone that, for once, didn’t put this life-long atheist off.
During each section, the reader is held accountable to take part in activities, underpinned by the three essential practises: Gratitude, Gentleness and Responsibility.
The nine principles that form the manifesto are:
Even this hard-nosed, sceptic that usually stays away from anything a little “woo-woo” couldn’t resist the style of this book; I worked through each of the action focused chapters and it gave me a real insight into how I was viewing myself and the potential ways I could let my self-care slip!
Regardless of your entrepreneurial journey, these are things that I feel everyone should pay close attention to. Everyone needs tools to help build resilience through the harder times and to allow them the space to pay attention to the good!
1. What is your story?
You are allowed to reject and leave behind the roles and responsibilities that don’t work for you anymore. This may be relationships with others, duties that don’t add value to your life or obligations from previous times. For example, if you have moved from an employee to a self-employed person, are you still expecting someone else to come in and tell you what to do?
2. The Power of Gratitude
WE forced me to have a target number of points I was thankful for every day. Each night, I would find 10 different points I was thankful for. Even if the day felt dull or average, I would sit and find the 10. It meant digging deep into all the connections I had around me and really paying attention to the small stuff.
3. The need for quiet time
If you have met me you know that I talk, A LOT. Now, just imagine what type of internal monologues go on in my head! WE encouraged daily meditation; simply two-minutes a day of quiet time. I am amazed by how hard it is for me to JUST SHUT UP, yet I now look forward to that time (which is slowly increasing) and I am finding it easier to push away the internal list maker. We all know the benefits of meditation; but how often do we give ourselves the time to be quiet and slow?
If you are new to the life that is self-employment or currently knees deep in balancing business and family, I would recommend you stop, right now, and find out the time to consider these three points. If you want to find out more about the book, then check out this link. And don’t think it is just women, EVERYONE needs to read this book to understand that, together we can bring about positive change!