Compared to the allure of, let's say, doubling your income in 90 days, improved self-care practices are not usually as interesting or compelling to business owners. However, deliberate, routine self-care practices ultimately translate into focus. Focus makes a real difference in achieving sustainable business growth. There’s an old story in the coaching world, or perhaps it’s an urban legend; I am not sure. It’s a story about an executive who was lamenting his lack of time for golf. He hired a coach to help him become better organized and more productive so that he could take time off for golf one afternoon a week. Much to his surprise, the coach told him tostart scheduling his weekly golf date first. Low and behold, upon taking this one action, the executive found it easier to organize his priorities and improve his focus during the hours remaining for work.
What’s at work here? Happiness, perspective and rejuvenation. The less time you give to work, the less time it will take. The happier you are, the greater your interest and motivation to work when it's time to work. The more refreshed you are, the easier it is to make decisions about what's really important to success. And so on and so on.
Then why is routine self-care so difficult? Why does it bring up resistance instead of an enthusiastic response? Before I answer the question I should say a little more about what I mean when I talk about self-care.
Self care includes:
- A willingness to set clearly defined boundaries around your personal time and your business time, to work when it's time to work and play (or rest) when it's time to play (or rest).
- Taking breaks, as needed, throughout the day.
- Organizing projects, appointments and tasks around a realistic schedule.
- Planning and accounting for travel time, personal appointments, exercise, sleeping, eating, day dreaming, and the like when you develop a task list for the day.
What else would you put on your list of good self-care practices?
When I’ve worked with business owners who are feeling overwhelmed and NOT producing good business results, I find that they are working very long hours and on weekends, too.
Let’s look at some of the myths and ideas that give rise to the yeah-buts when we talk about self-care.
- Busy is better than not busy. If you start to listen to people, you’ll hear things like, “I’m busy, but it’s a good busy.” What are they really saying to themselves?
- You’ve got to take the work when it’s there because you never know about tomorrow.
- I’ll worry about my health and happiness later. I don't have time to stop for it now.
- Someday, when I get it all together, I’ll take more time off.
- What else? What do you hear? What do you say?
If you have put self-care in line with growth and profit, what impact has it had on your results?