Being a Better Boss to Yourself
I'm betting that you didn't notice that I've been absent...
…from social media for a month. I set out to take a two week summer vacation from social media like I do most summers, since it’s our slow time of year, but then….I just kept pushing that social media TO-DO further down the month in my Google Calendar.
I could tell you that the decision to give myself some extra time was easy. I could lie and say that being a kind boss to myself comes easy. I could wrap the whole experience up with a bow like a sitcom. But, that’s not me.
The truth is that my body and mind forced me to extend that break. I’d just finished months of churning out content, being “on” at our events & prioritizing work. Taking care of myself was beyond low on my list of priorities. Even though my son Luca is two and half, I still hadn’t regularly resumed any of my self care stuff that kept me mostly sane before he was born.
I told myself that therapy was a luxury I couldn’t afford since I’m still clawing my way out of the financial reckoning that COVID had on my events-based business. I told myself that I didn’t have time for exercise, journaling, meditation, reading, being still or pretty much anything that wasn’t centered around my son or my business. I knew what I was doing was going to get me in trouble but I couldn’t stop myself. I’d stretch for a few days or resubscribe to my Headspace meditation app or meet a friend for a random walk but consistency eluded me.
ME! The person who teaches people how to determine and accomplish their goals, who mentors other creative business owners about balance and who consumes self-growth books like there’s actual nutrition in them. Yep, I’m the person who knew it was time to rest, yet pushed myself until my body got sick.
I ended up in the ER, urgent care & doctor’s offices. Because I have anxiety and OCD and that’s written on my chart, several doctors and nurses immediately told me it was all in my head and to “relax”. Nothing makes me want to relax more than when someone tells me to. After some gaslighting by multiple doctors, one looked at the whole picture and sent me to a specialist to help me with the physical issue while I worked on the mental component.
It had been many years since I’d been in that place where you know it’s time to take care of yourself but you don’t. Just because you know what you’re supposed to do to feel better doesn’t mean you’ll always do it.
It was hard to admit that I needed help and harder to take it. But, today, nearly two months later, I am feeling better. It didn’t happen right away. I had to ask for help and get proactive in returning to the coping skills in my toolbox that I’d abandoned (therapy, stretching, journaling, meditation, breathwork, being graceful with myself, setting boundaries, asking for what I need, etc.).
If you made it this far then you’re probably the person I wrote this for. I went back and forth about whether to share this vulnerable experience here. After all this is my business newsletter and maybe you came here for updates about our events and creative pep talks. Pressing send on the email that contained this essay was rough. Would people see me as weak? Would I no longer be an expert? There were a ton of “what if’s” but only one, “go ahead and do it” thoughts.
Here it is. No one and I mean no one, not Beyoncé, not Oprah, not Brené Brown, not Lizzo is above moments like this.
No one who is willing to lead a life built on creativity, intention, purpose and growth will escape moments of vulnerability.
And, if sharing my rough experience helps one of you feel less alone, if just one of you thinks, “yeah, I get it,” then my uncomfortable moment was 100% worth it.
And, if you don’t relate, and you still made it this far, the other lesson here is that you are the boss of your business and life. You decide which opportunities you say yes and no to.
If there’s anything you feel like you HAVE TO do for your business but you don’t want to do, ask yourself if you really have to do it. Yeah, we all have to do taxes and bookkeeping but maybe there’s an opportunity you feel like you should say yes to but your gut isn’t into it or maybe everyone’s telling you that you need to be on TikTok or make reels or build your business until you hit six-figures, BUT your heart or your gut is signaling you that maybe it’s not for you.
Before you commit, remind yourself that YOU ARE THE BOSS and ask yourself how you really feel. In the moment, things can feel very detrimental. We feel like saying no to an opportunity might hurt someone else so we let the email sit in our inbox, as a constant nudge to our own insecurities. We feel like asking our partner or kids to do a little extra so we can have a little extra time for ourselves is selfish. We feel like we have to post on Instagram 4-6 times a week or the algorithm will punish us. FYI: Social media is an opportunity not an obligation.
The truth is that not asking for, making the time for or doing what you need to take care of yourself is not only detrimental to yourself and your loved ones but also to the world who needs whatever gifts you have inside you.
So, let’s do this together. Join me this month and commit to thinking long and hard before committing to things. Get used to the phrases, “let me get back to you” and “while I know this is an awesome opportunity, I’m not able to give it the time and attention it deserves right now”. Come up with your own replies and embrace the uncomfortableness that may (probably will) arise when you take care of yourself because we ALL deserve a little grace.
I totally get this! It’s something I’ve been feeling at the core of my being lately. I appreciate your vulnerability and mentioning ways to politely bow out of something! Sometimes the anxiety is so high I can’t even find the words, as simple as “let me get back to you” seems. Thank you for sharing this ❤️ I’m definitely committing to a month of not overcommitting!
I love that idea of a month of committing to not overcommitting. Yesterday I had to bow out of something because of anxiety and it was so hard but the person totally understood and was so supportive and caring. It not only enforced that it was right for me to take care of myself but also that the person I had to cancel on is a true friend. It was really hard for me to share this post and your comment and the others have validated that it was right for me to make myself vulnerable here. Thank you!
Yes. This. All of this. So true…. My speed bump was wrecking my back pushing myself too hard on a landscaping project with business implications, forcing me to table EVERYTHING. It’s not worth it. Have I learned a lesson? Yes. Will I remember it next time I try to push myself too hard? Maybe. I’m stubborn, though. So we all have to remind each other to be, like you say, a good boss to ourselves. Thanks for writing this, Nicole!!
Also, LOVING Playing Big. Thanks for the recommendation!!
Yes! Just because we know better doesn’t mean we can always do better but I think it’s that mindfulness that is key. And, so glad you’re loving Playing Big! 🙂
Love your honesty. Hate how dismissive the medical professionals were. There is some relief in have a diagnosis – but that should augment a visit to the doctor – not replace it.
Totally! And thank you for reading. 🙂
An expert on business knows these self-defeating hazards. In admitting to experiencing them, you are being the all-around business expert all of us need. Thank you! for making public the idea that ALL of us are vulnerable sometimes. And thank you especially for the ideas you share for dealing with that problem. That’s the service a business expert provides.
Thank you so much Charlene for your encouragement and validation! It makes the vulnerability worth it! 🙂
your email went into my “to read later” folder and I can’t believe I chose to read it today because it resonates too much with what I am going through right now! coincidentally I decided to take 3 days off from my business – 1 day to spend with my sons, 1 day to just sleep in and be totally lazy (I can’t believe how much I needed all that sleep!) and 1 day today, to re-organise my thoughts & do work-unrelated stuff around the house. THANK YOU for making me feel normal and for lifting a big chunk off this crazy guilt I have for selfishly taking these 3 days off just to do what I really want to do for myself. (I also got myself landed into the hospital 2 months ago and even went into ICU – that’s when I discovered my body has become weaker than I thought it is.) It is SO hard to make other people understand without feeling vulnerable & I really appreciate you sharing this. Thank You!!
Donna! I love your three day plan! I feel that could be a monthly or even twice a month thing. I know it’s so hard to take that time to do the things that seem like luxuries but actually are necessities. YOU’RE inspiring me! Thank you. 🙂
Thank you so much for being so open and honest about your journey. I hate how the medical profession looks to sweep it all under the “oh you have anxiety so you really just need to chill and breathe” rug. All of what you write is so so valid. As women we automatically feel the not doing as much as I could be/should be, why am I feeling this way, etc. and then add it the business owner aspect of it and off to the races we go. It takes so much effort to let others pick up what we need to put down – I struggle with this all time, but I feel that I am getting better at it. The grace we deserve to give ourselves is an awesome way to look at it. I’m joining you in the mindful agreeing this month –