I don’t know where I formed the belief. 

However, I thought being an entrepreneur meant sacrifice.  It meant long hours, hard work, and giving up things you loved. 

When I left the corporate world, my husband and I danced.  We did ballroom dancing together.  We enjoyed the socialization, the exercise, and the fun. 

Within six months of becoming an entrepreneur, we gave it up. 


All work and no play…

After a while, it seemed that my whole life was my business.  I was up early and the last one to leave the store.  In the evening, I logged back in to take care of paperwork or other issues I didn’t get done. 

On the weekends, it felt like I was doing all my running around, trying to be social while also doing even more work.  All of my conversations with my husband were about our companies.  And to friends and family, I would hide how frustrated and tired I was.  

My success didn’t equal the resources I was giving to the business. 

I had given up so much.  By giving up dance, we gave up more than we realized.  We gave up a primary social outlet for ourselves and lost our “dance friends.”  We didn’t replace the physical activity of dance with something else.  Most importantly, we gave up an activity that gave us fun and pleasure.

My husband and I suddenly had nothing to talk about but business. 

Over time, my husband and I started to resent our business.  It was sucking up our lives. 

You become an entrepreneur because you want to love what you do.  You want flexibility. I felt like I had none of that.  I was burning out. 

We only have so much energy.

I believed I had to sacrifice today and reap the rewards in the future. 

And so I pushed myself.  I forced myself to hustle to keep at it.  

I didn’t realize until much later that we only have so much mental, emotional and physical energy.  And when we are drained, we have trouble focusing, and things become more difficult and will take longer.  

So by pushing myself past empty, I was making everything harder.

When I get hungry, I start to get irritated and punchy.   I’m empty.  Once I eat, my energy returns, and I am ready to go again.  

Well, this is what happens in other energy areas too.  When drained, I have nothing left for my team or customers.  I was pouring all my energy into my entrepreneur hat, leaving nothing for my wife, friend, or daughter hat. 

Looking back, I wonder how I showed up for those important to me.     

Put your mask on first.

If you have flown a plane, you know they tell you to put your mask or life jacket on in the event of an emergency.  To take care of yourself before you help others. 

I always thought this was a bit selfish.  Until I realized that you could not help anyone if you were not ok. 

Today, I understand that this concept applies not just to an airplane emergency but to all areas of my life. 

I cannot be the best version of myself if I am empty.   If I am empty, I will struggle with focus, being creative, or making decisions.  

The best thing I can do for my business and life is to take care of myself.  

Yes, I’m talking about self-care.  

To be clear, I don’t just mean making time for bubble baths and pedicures (although I love those things); I also suggest making time for the things that fill you up.  

For me, this means ensuring that my workspace and home are free of clutter.  It means I make time to go to Taekwondo.  It means that I schedule a time to go for dinner with friends.  It means I have a recurring meeting with a friend to talk every two weeks.  It means that sometimes, I’ll sit with a fictional book and read for no reason other than to enjoy myself.   

What fills me will be different than what fills you.  The key is discovering what will fill you and then making time for it.  Find ways to build it into your life.  

What will you start doing to put yourself first to fill your energy? 

You always have to remember to take care of you first and formost, because when you stop taking care of yourself, you get out of balance and you really forget how to take care of others.

Jada Pinkett Smith

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