Wake up early, like really early, 4 am early. Grab breakfast and a coffee and get ready for my first client at 5am, then another at 6am, then another, and another. Teach a fitness class at 9:15am, which thankfully gave me a 15-minute break to refill my coffee cup. Three more clients after class and then I was done, for the morning. Home for two hours to eat, shower, change, and then back to it, the grind. Getting home before 9pm was a great day.
Rinse and repeat. I had broken out of the 9-5 routine. Yet, was it any better?
Something had to change; I preached to my personal training clients about a balanced life, about the importance of sleep, and eating regularly. And yet, I thought to be successful I had to take on as much work as I could; that I could not say no. The money was good, sure. I did not have a boss or superior to answer to, awesome. However, was my stress any better than if I did work 9-5 at a big chain fitness center? It was way higher.
So where was the disconnect? I was doing what I loved and had built up my brand to be in high demand. Are stress and long hours just something you have when you are an entrepreneur? It does not have to be. So where does balance come into play?
I decided to make a shift. Something had to change. I was 34, single, and always working. This was not what I wanted when I decided to run my own company. My health was taking a toll, I was always tired, and not doing half the things I thought working for myself would allow.
It is important, in my opinion, when building a company that you put some long hours and pick up contracts whenever you can, even if it means missing out on a weekend, to build your brand. The key I found was setting a boundary for that. Once you reach a certain level, you need to know where to say no, and that it is okay. I had overstepped my own boundary, and it was taking a toll on my health and overall quality of life.
Refocused, I set out my boundaries. I wrote them down. I went as far as to block time out on my calendar for “Social,” “Self-Care,” and even “Naps.” This kept me focused when I had to say “no” and turn down potential new clients. This is when everything changed.
In learning to say no, I learned to allow myself time to find a healthier self. In finding a healthier self, body, mind and soul, I found focus and balance. I could work more efficiently and effectively for my clients, and saw a huge improvement in the quality of my product. Eating multiple times a day, balanced and nutritious meals, I had the energy and focus to build my business in a way that would reduce my hours and increase my payout. It all started with setting that boundary and learning to say no when the work does not align with your goals. Focusing on what the goal is and living a healthier lifestyle to maintain it.
So what is a healthier lifestyle? It does not have to be anything overwhelming. Move with intention everyday, get 8 hours of sleep each night, and choose nutritious meals most of the time. Health is wealth, as the old adage goes. In fact, studies have proven that 75% of high-income earners exercise daily and attribute that to their focus and success. There are countless studies linking success, in business, academics, etc and a healthy lifestyle. It seems then, if you are to be a successful entrepreneur, some healthy habits are going to be key.
Start small. Adjust items in your daily diet for healthier options. One tip I share with my clients is to have 1 big salad every day, 2 pieces of fruit, and 3 giant glasses of water. Then add a minimum of 30 minutes of intentional movement everyday. This could be as simple as taking the stairs instead of the elevator, joining a free class online or at the gym, or even hiring a trainer. Replace a bad habit like drinking or smoking, with a good one, such as reading a book. Whatever it is, long lasting changes are the manageable ones that you can repeat daily. Start small, and build from there, just as you would your business.
Founding your own business is a remarkable thing. It takes courage, heart, and loads of determination.
- To know your goals, and honor them with focus and maintaining boundaries
- To know when sacrificing a weekend to build your brand is important, and to know when a weekend off to reset is needed
- To step up when no one else will
- To make choices that lead to a lifetime of health and success
So make the hard choices, set your boundaries, go for a walk, and keep focused on your goal. You are capable of so much. Stay on course and the rest will follow.