Have you ever taken into account the timings of your monthly cycle when planning your business or deciding when to launch your next programme or to speak at an event?
(Yes, this article is written for ladies but if you’re a guy with women in your team, please read on because this is a serious post and can be incredibly enlightening if you’ve never considered this in your business!)
Cycle tracking is becoming a common question I ask my female clients. It’s just one of the ways to track how your energy flows naturally and responds to external influences, such what food we eat and how we look after our bodies. It’s important because creating sustainable business success is so much more than just a well put together marketing funnel. Being aware of how our inner energies work and affect our thinking and thus what action you take is an incredibly important part of deciding how to design, create and run your business so it fuels you, rather than burns you out.
As I go about planning my own business, marketing campaigns and promotional events, I find the more I am aware of my monthly cycle calendar, the more I am able to tune into my ebb and flow of emotions, creativity and stuckness.
If you’ve ever tracked your cycle, you’ll know there are ebbs and flows to your energies. I first started to be aware of the exact dates of my own cycle when my husband and I decided to start a family (ah, those fun days of taking one’s temperature to confirm ovulation days!). But it wasn’t until my adrenaline reached boiling point and my system crashed back in 2012 when I started seriously to research my peri-menopausal symptoms and I began to track my monthly cycles again.
Tracking my emotional and physical changes throughout the month helped me make sense of what was going on inside of me; the feeling of being out of control one week, focused and in flow the next, often followed by a serious energy crash, irrational mood swings and my inner critic shouting down any great ideas I had for my business.
In my experience, knowing where I’ve been at in my cycle, at any given point in my working week, has helped me enormously over the past few years to deal with things that haven’t gone according to plan … as well as helping me realise I wasn’t going mad; I’m just being a woman!
You may or may not be aware, but there are 4 distinct stages to your cycle; each one affecting your energy, emotions and physicality. Of course, not every woman has a regular 28 day cycle; we all have our unique pattern and sometimes so irregular that it’s hard to track. But if you are still in menstrual flow, the first step in taking this approach with your business is starting to track and keep a record of how you feel and what symptoms you experience.
Phase 1: Menstruation
Day 1 of your cycle is the first day of menses. I’ve often found that I have a huge sense of relief on this day, followed by a few days of general yuckiness, bloating and tiredness that has seemed to got worse as I’ve got older. It feels as if my body finds it tougher each month to kick start the engine as I get closer to menopause each year.
Day 2 or 3 can be a day I can quite happily stay in bed all day and, although walking and getting out and about brings relief, it’s always important for me to lower my pace and keep rested. I’ve learnt from experience that to go full pelt during these days will only have a knock-on effect of being knackered for weeks or even pick up a bug and get ill. So now, instead of pushing through with tasks that feel difficult and hard work, I Lean Back and enjoy moments of connecting within myself during these times. When I do this it can turn out to be an incredibly creative time for me.
Phase 2: Follicular
This phase is usually days 7 to 10 of your cycle and it’s when your estrogen and testosterone levels start to climb, getting you ready for ovulation. I used to feel wonderful during this time but as my peri-menopausal symptoms kicked in, the lack of estrogen has made this week tough for me some months. It’s when I’ve been the most frustrated; I’ve been used to surging ahead with plans and action taking with my brain going full steam, but my body not being able to respond.
Phase 3: Ovulatory
Lasting only a couple of days, your body produces your egg and you may often feel incredibly powerful, able to take on the world and say yes to everything. It’s Mother Nature’s way of making you attractive to the opposite sex and ready to mate, of course. But this can be a fabulous time to run an event, negotiate with a new contract or even pick up the phone to prospect you’ve been putting off for an age.
Phase 4: Luteral
Typically lasting 12 to 16 days, this is the remainder of your cycle. Estrogen and testosterone decline and progesterone, the heat-inducing hormone, kicks in, preparing your body for a potential pregnancy. It’s often the time you feel the most tired because Mother Nature is assuming you need to rest and nest. So this is a good time to brain dump to-do lists, clear up clutter and re-align yourself before taking action on any new projects or ideas.
And, of course, PMS can start to kick in towards the end of this last stage; from chronic back pain and stiff joints to raging anger and mood swings, this can be a particularly stressful time to think straight or do projects such as the end of month accounting! So perhaps, not the best time to reconcile your banking or respond to a negative comment on one of your Facebook posts.
Once again, every woman’s monthly cycle is unique to her. You have your own symptoms and experiences and yes, some months go better than others. But when you become more aware of your cycle, the more effective you can be in your business. As marketing can be such an emotive part of your business, from deciding what price to sell at and whether to record a live video when all you want to do is climb into bed with a hot water bottle, here are some of the lessons I have learnt along the way of planning my marketing and my business.
1. Stop beating yourself up
You can stop beating yourself up when you get frustrated something’s not working. Being “on your period” is not about making excuses but when you are aware of how your body is responding to which hormones you are producing, it can give you clarity on why you may be screaming at your laptop for deleting your file (because, quite obviously, it had nothing to do you!).
2. Give yourself a break when you need it
You can give yourself a break when your body needs it most and plan to deliver your best work when you are at your best. Planning a 2 day event in the fourth week of your cycle is probably not the best time if you’re contending with stomach cramps and irritability. But if you have control over your work calendar, choosing days in your follicular weeks could give yourself the chance to rock your best work when you’re in front of an audience.
3. Stop taking yourself so seriously.
Nothing … and I mean NOTHING … is more irritating than someone (AKA your partner) asking you if you’re PMSing … when you are PMSing. I try to head this off at the pass now because when I get that first sign of irritability, I’m off to check my period tracker on my iPhone and I tell my husband that I’m on the way. I find that I can laugh about it if I’m the one to bring it up first … funny how that happens!
4. Take days off when you need them.
Running your own business gives you the enormous benefit of being in control of your diary. In corporate life, taking a sick day for bad period pains can be tough to negotiate, especially if it’s regular as clockwork and it’s the same day of every month. Plus trying to explain in a board meeting why your brain fog is so thick and you have no idea why your sales figures are down this month may not go down terribly well.
So, as your own boss, don’t make it more difficult for you or your team members that it needs to be. If you have particular bad PMS or find it tough on other days of your cycle, factor those days into your working calendar. Your body and brain will thank you for it when you come to your productive days and you can turn up the energy dial.
5. Get braver on your brave days.
If you know you’re raring to go during your follicular week, then add this time of your cycle in your diary. Plan your sales days during this time. Or your business planning or creation of a new programme. Let Mother Nature help capitalise on these days and help you do your best work.
This topic of periods and hormonal cycles is an incredibly important topic and I wish more people, men and women, could discuss this in the context of business. As we grow into a more feminine world and more female leaders rise to the top, this is a topic that needs to be discussed openly to enable us to develop and grow our businesses, without burning out.
So if there is one thing I’d love you to take action from reading this article, if you don’t already, is that you start to track your cycle. It can be as simple as writing in a journal or if you prefer a piece of tech, then there are plenty of period trackers apps you can get for your phone (you get the added benefit of the apps automatically calculating your future due dates based on your cycle dates).
Self-awareness is powerful; gathering evidence, rather than wondering what the hell is going on with your roller coaster of energy, can give you specific patterns to look out for and help you plan your marketing WITH your menstrual cycle rather than run your business against your natural ebb and flow.
For those of you who already track your cycle, I’d love to know what you do already in your business and marketing plans to take into account where you are at during the weeks.
Let me know your thoughts. Do you plan your business around your dates already? Or has this article made you think about how you could?
(Article originally published in July 2016)
Until next time, remember to do less, be more and play that bigger game.