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The Struggle for Work/Life Balance as a Solopreneur

The Struggle for Work/Life Balance as a SolopreneurBurnout.

Sure you’ve heard warnings from other entrepreneurs but it’s something that happens to other, less driven people, right? You’re a hustler. An achiever. A get.shit.done-er.

You work 7 days a week. You always have a course on the go to help you write/market/sell/network better. When you’re not working you’re reading read business books or listening to business podcasts. And you probably spend more total time in business Facebook groups than you do socializing with real friends.

How do I know?

Because that was me in the first 2 years of solopreneurship.

In the beginning, that single-minded focus and drive was a huge asset, it takes a lot to get a new business off the ground.

And it was so exciting! All I wanted to do was work on my business: get my website up, find those first clients, write blog posts and guest posts, do webinars, etc. It was so easy to fall into a pattern of working 10 hour days, rarely taking weekends off and being permanently ON with social media & email just a click away on the smartphone.

But just a few months before my 2-year biz-versay, despite a full client load and having just wrapped my best quarter ever, I found myself in tears on the phone with my business coach.

I was wrapping up my biggest launch ever but I felt terrible. The entire launch I’d felt like I was pushing a heavy boulder uphill, I had too much to do and not enough time to do it in and I failed to meet the big goal I’d set for myself.

I was feeling frustrated, spent and completely devoid of motivation.

That’s when, thanks to a few wise words from my coach, I first realized I couldn’t keep working the way I had been. I was burning out.

Woah.

The way back from burnout

After taking some time to reflect and talk through how I was feeling with my business friends and a life coach, I realized it was time to slow waaaay down.

I stepped away from away from social media, blogging and active marketing, simply running my business in a kind of “maintenance mode” while I made time for ME, outside of my business.

It took 2 whole months before my motivation really came rushing back, bringing with it a bunch of new ideas I was actually excited to get to work on.

So I’m back at it — with a few new boundaries:

  • I take at least one full day weekend day OFF (sometimes the entire weekend!)
  • I finish work by 7pm (I do occasionally work later but I balance that by starting later that day or the next)
  • I don’t schedule anything on Fridays (I usually end up working for a few hours, but it feels really nice to have that day completely open to do what I like)
  • I take a proper lunch break (at least 30 minutes, and no eating next to my laptop)

These are helping a lot but I’m not perfect and I don’t have it all figured out.

I’m also 7 months pregnant right now and I know this balancing act is only going to get harder with a new baby.

So this is a work in progress but I am much more aware of what the path towards burnout looks like so I can catch myself if I start walking down that way again.

I’d love to hear from you

Do you struggle with work/life balance in your business? What kind of boundaries have you set around your business?


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15 Responses to The Struggle for Work/Life Balance as a Solopreneur

  1. Anna Long September 17, 2015 at 17:33 #

    Girl, I hear ya! And I went through a very similar experience this summer and taking a step back was needed. I started to worry that my creativity and drive were gone forever. But many days off and mini vacations helped reset my excitement and get in a much happier place to continue building my business as we move into Fall ;)

    Thanks for the reminders and encouragement!

    • Jackie Johnstone September 17, 2015 at 17:40 #

      Right? I definitely felt like my motivation had completely vanished — really scary! But I’m so thankful for awesome biz BFFs like you who supported me through this low and helped me get back to feeling like myself :) It’s so important to know we aren’t alone and aren’t the only ones feeling this way!

  2. Nicole September 17, 2015 at 17:43 #

    I’m glad you’re feeling better, Jackie! I’ve definitely had moments like this. For me the big shift came when I went to Italy for a writing retreat last April…I returned with a completely different perspective on life and business. Although, of course, 90% of that has worn off (ha!) I’m still left with a bit more clarity. Thanks for sharing your story!

  3. Steven Ma September 17, 2015 at 19:02 #

    I think it’s especially difficult in those “famine” times when there’s little income coming in. You feel the pressure to work even more because you need to make it to that next big project.

  4. Nela Dunato September 17, 2015 at 19:30 #

    I feel like I go through this at least once or twice a year… and I’m slowly learning how to care for myself.

    On normal days I can manage the work life balance, but during the “launch mode” all rules are our the window. I really wish I was better at maintaining boundaries between work and relaxation.

    Having unscheduled Fridays sounds like a great idea! Right now I usually do business development every other Friday so I avoid doing client work, but to have a day to just experiment with new ideas would be lovely.

  5. Anna September 17, 2015 at 20:03 #

    Yep, Jackie, I think that happens to the best of us. I had to take two months off to avoid falling into postnatal depression after having my second child, and continuing to hustle to not lose the leads that I worked so hard for and to “stay in the game”.

    My biz coach recently asked me “What excites you about your biz?”, “What sets your heart on fire?” and I didn’t even know what to answer.

    Sometimes, you have to take a step back in order to move a step ahead and remember your big WHY or going into business in the first place (what was that thing called freedom and more time??) and put your Self back into the equation.

    Thanks for speaking real, much love, Anna xo

  6. Amy Chick September 17, 2015 at 21:18 #

    Jackie, you’re such a pro. Everyone burns out, but not everyone keeps moving forward. I’m so happy you’ve discovered the balance that works for you — your business (and your sanity!) will certainly be better for it! Keep kicking butt girlfriend :)

  7. Chrissie September 17, 2015 at 21:21 #

    Soooo important to take time for yourself. Once the baby comes it will be really key to have your time sortied out and your business planned out for functioning after the arrival. He will change everything :) Setting boundaries will be key with yourself and your clients. It is important for them to understand and respect your work hours. And quite honestly any last minute requests are generally a lack of time management on their part, it will be important to stick to your guns. One of the biggest lessons I found after having Kian was the art of saying no :) Without taking time for ourselves we are no good to anyone, Whether it be our business, our relationships and even ourselves.

  8. Renée Suzanne September 17, 2015 at 23:12 #

    Thanks for this awesome and timely post! I am in that situation now and burnout is rough. Like you, I thought it only happened to other people but I was wrong. Live and learn. I’m so glad you’re feeling better and that your motivation has returned. I’m going easier on myself these days.

  9. Maisie September 18, 2015 at 01:20 #

    Thanks for your honesty, Jackie. I’ve been feeling a bit frayed at both ends for some time now. While building a business is hard, sometimes it’s even harder to be tender enough with ourselves to back down from the go-go-go mentality. I recently started taking Wednesdays off from client work and use that day instead to catch up on tweaking my business, working on passion projects, reading good books and listening to podcasts while I color. Having that break in the middle of my week has been the best possible gift I could have given myself.

  10. Adria DeCorte September 18, 2015 at 21:58 #

    Oh man, Jackie, I get it. Love your biz boundaries! Even though this is what I help my entrepreneur clients with and talk about on my podcast, I mega struggle with this myself (we teach what we need to learn ourselves, right?).

    I’m all about FEEDING your hustle – integrating those healthy habits and self-care rituals that energize you into your crazy biz schedule.

    Lately, I’ve been skipping my scheduled workouts a lot because it’s hard to pull away from projects. At the same time, I’ve been going through a long spell of mild depression around my business. Then recently I was reminded of why those workouts are exactly what I need as a biz owner: (1) regular movement produces serotonin which makes you feel like “I got this” and (2) exercise produces the feel-good endorphins. Conclusion: I’m making a concerted effort to have at least 30 minutes movement every day (even if simply walking) to stay a happy entrepreneur. :)

  11. Katie September 21, 2015 at 20:35 #

    Oh Jackie, my heart goes out to you! I feel like I’ve really struggled with either being “on” and working in every moment that I’m not sleeping/eating/doing something super important…or feeling like I’ll get nothing done but feel really rebellious against a calendar because I’ve been working so hard!

    The big thing for me has been reminding myself that I can have boundaries that both help me get the work done + also protect/give me LOTS of me-time (I need a lot! :). I feel so passionately about my work helping women who “have it together” in their lives but feel frustrated with their eating…I loved what you wrote about the motivation rushing back when you backed off a bit.

    It is always an inspiration to hear other people’s stories, so I really appreciate you being vulnerable about it. Good luck with the rest of the pregnancy!

  12. Mallie Rydzik September 21, 2015 at 23:46 #

    Love it, this is such an ongoing struggle for all of us. I do the same thing with weekends and shifting my workday if I work late one day (it’s a little tricky for me as a night owl). Like you, I don’t do any meetings on Fridays and leave it open for admin or what I call “casual” work. I also try to limit the number of client or other meetings I have every week. Last week I wasn’t paying attention and ended up with 20 hours of meetings–that’s half a 40-hour work week!

  13. Shannon Mattern October 13, 2015 at 03:24 #

    Wow, it’s like I’m looking in a mirror. 10 months in and I’m still working on setting boundaries and working within a schedule, outsourcing and being more efficient with my time and putting MYSELF – my health and wellness FIRST before anything else. I still work full time too in addition to building my business. But Jackie, your hard work looks like it has paid off, and better to learn that burnout lesson early on I guess!! Thank you so much for sharing this!

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