Although I’ve been intuitively coaching my friends for most of my life, it wasn’t until last January that I finally admitted to myself how unhappy I am in my current role, how much I dislike working for other people in general, and how ready I feel to take this calling to a new level. As usual, I’ve turned to podcasts as my favourite source of information, to learn from other female coaches and business owners about the joys of entrepreneurship and side hustling. I’ve also signed up for a diploma in transformational coaching to make it official.
Since then, I’ve been juggling my highly demanding (and miserable!) 9-to-5 with studying, coaching clients and working on my business. I’ve also been trying not to completely neglect my friends (although I’m pretty much always tired when I see them) or my household’s basic chores (I mean, my cats need to have enough food that they don’t want to eat me, and my own personal hygiene is non-negotiable, right?)
The trouble is, no matter how determined and driven you are, if you don’t put certain systems in place, sooner or later you will run out of steam and energy. Which is exactly what has happened – surprise, surprise – resulting in something utterly new to me: the meltdown.
I assume it looks different for everyone but, for me, it has manifested in uncontrollable outbursts of tears, persistent headaches and eczema flare-ups. I wasn’t even able to cope at my day job, let alone serve my clients or create website copy, so I had to take a break and make changes to my routine. If you’re reading this and recognising yourself, then you might potentially find these strategies useful too.
Schedule regular breaks
I mean it! Look at the next two months in your calendar and actively schedule at least one free night in every working week, and one free weekend every month. By free, I mean you won’t agree to any plans, even if Jason Momoa knocks on your door and asks you on a date. No, I mean it. Instead, in that time you will chill. The. Hell. Out. No emails, no website, no chores, no nothing. It’s your time to unwind, and you need to spend it doing something you love, or doing nothing at all.
Practice everyday acts of self-care
Whether it is baths with Epsom salts (my activity of choice), a feel-good book, yoga, meditation or a cuddling session with your dog, it is very important to do something that feels good every day, even if it’s just for 15 minutes. I know it doesn’t sound particularly ground-breaking, but the effect it has on your mood is crucial.
Set aside time for a little planning session. As our brains tend to be the most creative in the morning, I recommend doing it on a weekend when you don’t have to rush to work. Think about all the things you want to achieve in your side hustle in the next 12 months and put them down on paper. Then take another piece of paper and divide it into four sections. Those will be your 12 week chunks. And now think about when would you like to achieve each goal and what can you do in Q1, then Q2, and onwards, to achieve it. This gives you a basic action plan for your business. If you’d like to get more technical, you can use online tools to help you plan and track your progress. I use Trello (for tracking my business goals, creating work to-do lists, planning holidays, making Christmas shopping lists – literally anything) which is free, and also offers an app for your phone. Or you can invest in paid tools like Asana or Monday if you like to track different stages of your projects, or if you’d like to add other people, such as freelancers or team members, to your workflow.
Last but not least – talk to someone
I can’t stress this point enough. The worst thing you can do is to keep your worries to yourself, so schedule a coffee with a friend, talk to a mentor or hire a coach. Each one will provide a different level of support, so it’s up to you what you prefer and what your financial situation allows. I’ve started working with an amazing coach who I’ve met through my diploma and I can already see the results. There are also different online communities for women who are building, or already have, their own businesses – my personal favourites are She Can She Did and The Coven Girl Gang (look for them on Instagram but seriously – there are loads more).
Finally, give yourself some credit. It’s hard to do when you’re super busy, but please know that you’re doing a great job! You’re working so hard to achieve your goals and it will pay off eventually. Just keep swimming…