As I’m writing the majority of this post, I’m actually writing on my phone on a cardio machine at the gym, happy to be back after close to 2 weeks off. I never chose to stop coming, I just thought I was too busy or that the work I was doing, (that I also enjoyed btw) was more important, and that staying consistent with good habits of health was something I could do “later”.
I bought into the (popular and common) misconception that if you enjoy doing something, it’s not really work. I was doing work I enjoyed, but not taking time for other things that were good and healthy for me, and as romantic as it would be to say that doing work you enjoy isn’t work, it’s just not true.
I neglected things like going to the gym, or taking my dog on a long walk to the soundtrack of my favorite podcasts, or just watching a movie with my husband WITHOUT a laptop open to Lightroom on my lap so I could edit “on the side”. As many times as we all hear it online and in books and from doctors and even from a quiet voice inside ourselves, I’m here to beg you to believe the truth that setting boundaries and taking time for ourselves and our mental, physical, emotional, relational, and spiritual health is something we can’t afford not to do. And to do before you have to learn the hard way of being burnt out and stuck in bed feeling like your head is gonna explode (like I did!).
Do it because you love what you do so much that you choose to take a step back and recharge before you go at it again in full force. Don’t just run on the lie that motivation = feeling like it. And that if you feel like doing something, you’ll never get tired of it. We all need healthy habits and disciplines in our lives, no matter how quickly we want to progress and move forward.
You know how discipline never seems fun? How we all sort of get tired at the thought of getting into the discipline of certain things, like exercise, or reading a certain amount everyday, or eating healthily on a consistent basis? As backwards as it seems, I burnt myself out by not disciplining myself. By not taking the time my body needed me to take – working out at the gym, or listening to the wise advice and stories of people who have gone before me in the field of entrepreneurship, or simply indulging from time to time in things that give me rest and bring me a renewed sense of excitement and energy to pursue the things I’m already passionate about.
I think a contributing factor to the rut I found myself in earlier this week (the rut being, feeling like crap and not even being able to sit up very long before dry heaving), was my lack of focus. Recently, my other side job of being a freelance makeup artist for a cosmetic company discontinued the position I held without much notice (and by *much* I mean *any*). However, because I had already been considering going full time into photography, even though it came as a shock, I saw it as a little bit of a blessing in disguise and I took it as a sign that it was time to go full steam ahead with my passion.
(This is a good time to bring up something I’ve recently found to be true: it’s never time to go full steam ahead, passion or not, if you don’t also have the fuel to do so.)
So I went full steam ahead.
And I might have had the fuel in the beginning, but I ran out pretty quickly because as I took on more busyness, I didn’t keep up the habits that energized me at a matched rate. Although there was a voice in my head telling me to take time for things like quiet time, reading the Bible, working out, and simply abstaining from working on some facet of photography for more than like an hour of my waking moments, I silenced it with the very valid sounding excuse that I would do it “once things slowed down a little bit”. Simultaneously, I knew that I didn’t want things to slow down because I want to make a living from my passion and grow this business to be bigger, not smaller and slower. So secretly, I knew I had a problem, but it took being brought to my knees (on the bathroom floor, over the toilet, to be gross, but exact) to force me to come to the point I am trying to make now- that doing the things you know you need to do to take care of yourself, are important -vital even – to being able to stay on your feet long enough to reach success at all, let alone see your success last.
The solution, I believe, is really simple. It’s to be all there, wherever I am.
It’s to have focus when I’m working, the discipline to stop at a certain time (no matter how much I enjoy what I do), be all there for the people and things that refuel and reenergize me, and then to start the process over again.
It’s setting some sort of plan for how I spend my time, and then giving myself permission to relax and let myself enjoy the moments and people that make life so rich, and the discipline to focus on whatever is in front of me at that time, whether it’s work, or fun (even though, often my work is fun and I’m very blessed that I get to do what I do and make a living from it).
I’m so grateful that I’m usually pretty healthy, but I’m also glad for this unpleasant “nudge” of being sick that pushed me toward learning how to, and prioritizing, taking care of myself, sooner rather than later.
If you can relate to any part of my story, whether you’re trying to pursue your passion and build your own business too, or go full steam ahead toward anything, please take the time to make sure you have (and will have) the fuel to go the distance and make it all worth it. Sit down (as soon as you’re done reading this, if you can) and write out just a few things that you know make you feel truly alive and energized, and commit to making time for those things, no matter how busy you get, now and throughout life. Deal?
We’re in this together.