Fatigue, stress and hormone imbalances have become serious problems for many business owners, particularly those of us in our 40’s, 50’s and beyond. And it’s caused many to pull back and play small to protect themselves. When we feel exhausted, we can talk ourselves out of plans we feel we don’t have the capacity, confidence or courage to take action on. But this fatigue and fear of not having enough energy is costing us dearly, and over the years I have come to see that our health is the number one investment we need to make in our businesses.
I’ve experienced fatigue over the years and I know only too well how frustrating and costly this exhaustion can be.
I’ve been frustrated and, at times, incredibly angry about how crap I’ve felt as I’ve gone through my midlife changes and there have been long periods of my business when I’ve pulled back and not done the things I wanted to do. When have the right conditions to fuel our vitality, growing profitable, sustainable and scalable businesses is much easier. But in order to do this, we have to understand and know how to work with, rather than against, our own cycles and flow, as well as the cycles and flow of our business, the economy and the planet we live on.
My fatigue began in my late 30’s. I was in full Superwoman mode; mother to two young children and running a successful term-time online coaching business. Then my Dad got sick. After 18 months of going through three rounds of seriously intensive chemo, he died of Lymphoma in the summer of 2010. My parents lived in Devon at the time. Me in Surrey. So I spent the best part of two years driving up and down the A303, sometimes back and forth in one day. It was no surprise that my shoulders seem stuck to my ears from all the driving, and I had consistent chronic neck pain.
My life seemed to take on a black comedy as, if that wasn’t enough to deal with, I had been convinced to take on a 9 month rescue dog because the family wanted a pet. The autumn of that same year of my Dad dying, he got run over by a truck. £6,500 worth of vet bills and reconstructive leg surgery later I was left looking after a lame dog, whilst dealing with our family grief. I tried counselling but one session was enough for me to decide I didn’t have time to let all this grief out so I zipped it all in. And in January 2011, I went headlong back into making my business work again.
I re-designed my business to get away from the constant launching of digital programmes and closed down a membership site product. I knew I didn’t have the capacity or the inclination to spend my time learning and keeping up with the latest digital tactics that I was teaching. And I missed direct contact with clients, being involved with their decision making and simplifying their marketing systems.
My business moved into a one-to-many model and I launched my first group coaching programme in June 2011, The GID Marketing School, which is still offered today as a foundation course for our Momentum business growth programme.
All the changes I was making to my business was working on paper. I was certainly doing less, having more fun and making more money than before. The problem was that I was still in Superwoman; that same driving force I had back in my 30’s was being used in my 40’s. And let’s not forget the trauma of losing my Dad I had buried deep inside of me.
In the summer of 2012 I hit the proverbial wall. I simply couldn’t get out of bed one weekend. I realised that this tiredness I was feeling wasn’t going to be fixed by a few early nights. I would like to be able to give you a happy ending, but unfortunately, my exhaustion confused and depressed me. My GP told me I was fine and that all women my age go through this kind of symptoms and as my blood tests all came back normal she simply suggested I take some iron tablets.
I conveniently blamed my physical state on peri-menopause which gave me permission to believe that all women went through this so just get through it and by the time I’m 52, all will be well. Ha! My saving grace finally came from finding a community called One of Many in 2017 and it was through some deep personal development work that I began to feel alive again and take back control off my physical and mental health issues.
What I’ve come to deeply understand through my fatigue journey is that you can look to others for inspiration on what makes a business work, have the best product funnel set up and following the latest surefire, tried-and-tested marketing system … but if you don’t find the ways to create the right conditions to fuel your vitality whilst you go about growing your business, you’re in danger of boom-and-bust and crashing your body.
That’s entrepreneurial burnout. And it’s rife right now. But it’s not doom and gloom.
The reason I wanted to share my story is to inspire you that there is life, vitality and the full force of creativity on the other side. That once you make the decision to invest in your health and wellbeing for the sake of your business, you will experience it for yourself why it needs to be the number one investment to make before you look at any growth opportunities.
Once my fatigue was under control, my business began to blossom once again and through my teachings around True Profit Business and the work we do with our Momentum members, I feel I am doing my best work yet. Yes, I have invested in systems, processes and my team but it wasn’t until I began to take my health seriously that I experienced the shift in my own business growth.
I still have to manage my health and wellbeing and yes, I do have set backs as I get tempted with bread and cakes, and eating too much sugar. But I stay alert and tuned in to my body because I know, if I want to do the work that I want to do, I have to make sure I have the right rhythms and rituals in place to support my health.
It’s why we now have Health & Wellbeing as one of the five steps in our Grow Strong™ planning process in Momentum; it’s the foundation that each 90 day plan is built up from so that each of our members are clear on what rituals and rhythms they need to support their growth.
So along with their sales targets for the next cycle, they have to submit what they are doing to move, as well as nourish their mind, body and spirits.
What to do if you feel you need prioritise health as your next business investment
Perhaps you’ve hit the wall like me back in 2012 and you’re staring at this screen frustrated that your brain fog is so thick you can’t think straight. Perhaps you’ve not hit that wall yet, but you recognise the tiredness is affecting how you think about your business and you’re perhaps pulling yourself back on plans you previously had. Wherever you are at with your current health, if you feel you need prioritise your health, here are some of the things I did to start taking some control back of my energy levels.
1. Recognise you have a health problem
The sooner you stop kidding yourself that everyone else is tired and this is just the way of the world, the sooner you can start helping yourself recover. Start with your GP. And yes, I know from experience, that many GPs are just not equipped to understand and investigate fatigue illnesses or hormonal changes so it can take months, if not years to get the medical help that you need. And you may have to go private if you can afford to pay the fees. I’ve found that hormone testing is best done privately because you’ll simply get better results. If you’re interested in speaking to someone, then I can recommend Nicki Williams from www.happyhormonesforlife.com
But don’t get ahead of yourself and make this a bigger problem than it needs to be. One visit to the GP and a blood test later and you may find you have a real simple medical treatment to follow. The reality is that there’s every chance you’ll have to be making some serious lifestyle changes – what you eat, drink and how you exercise and move – but start somewhere and your GP will hopefully be the place for that.
2. Ask for help and explore your options
I know from experience that fatigue causes confusion, brain fog and decreases your ability to make decisions so you need to ask for help. I battled with this for years. I thought I could fix it all by myself with Google searches and a few books on menopause. But it wasn’t until I started getting recommendations for health practitioners such as kinesiologists and acupuncturists that I started to realise that my fatigue had a shed load of trauma and grief blocked behind it. It wasn’t pretty, that’s for sure, but shifting this blocked energy helped me tremendously to get my physical health back on track.
Explore your options, speak to friends or family members, try out treatments recommended to you and you may surprise yourself with what works for you.
3. Is your business model right?
As the pace of our living gets faster and social media feeds us a stylised version of what business success looks like, we seem to be obsessed by how to get more done in less time. And when we’re not sure exactly what needs to be done, rather than look to our vision and business strategy for answers, we buy into the next “should-be” marketing tactic, funnel or success formula that promises us results but simply distracts us by never-ending to-do lists.
It’s easy to see how a lot of people get trapped by building the wrong business model and end up selling and delivering the wrong products and programmes that only drain them of their energy. It’s why one person’s success formula won’t necessarily work for another.
The more time we spend understanding ourselves and how we work, the easier it becomes to build a business that fuels us. Personality profiling tools such as Talent Dynamics are a really quick and easy way of starting this process and other tools such as Motivational Maps can help us understand what makes us tick. Think of it like packing for a holiday; if you were going on a beach holiday, you wouldn’t be taking your ski jackets with you. It’s the same for your business. If being in front of screens all day drains you, is a digital business really right for you … even though you’ve been told by many experts that passive income is the way to go?
Build a business model that’s right for your being, your values, how your energy flows and the money you need to make the choices of how you spend your time.
4. Know that energy flows and needs replenishing
I have learnt that we have many energy states that we have access to help us thrive and rise to our full potential. Energy isn’t static; you can’t keep it topped up and have it stay there. Nor is to be treated like a credit card; think you can go full pelt for a few weeks and then catch up with sleep at the weekends.
Energy flows in cycles and to help my clients experience how to work with this flow, I teach three different energies to use when they are growing a business: Lean In, Lean Back, Ground.
Giving energy flow form can help you keep going forward with your business growth plans, but without the drive and push energy that can burn us out. When you know which energy to use for different tasks such as visioning, planning and implementing, you’re able to make better decisions and find a simpler flow to working during your week.
If feeling energy flow is new to you, then I recommend you first start tracking your energy cycles and flow that happen throughout the day, week and month. It can be hard to do if you are particularly fatigued so it may be that you need to action steps 1 and 2 first before you try this. But what you will find is that some tasks you do in your business light you up and some suck you down. At some points of the day you feel alive and at other times you may just want to crawl back under your duvet. For women, your monthly cycles have a direct impact on our energy so if you haven’t done so already, starting tracking these immediately.
I’m no bean eating, juicing goddess!
If you know me, you’ll know I’m certainly not some bean-eating, juicing goddess who gets up every morning and starts her day with yoga and meditation. I’ve tried but it’s simply not me. If that is your thing, great …. but you may be pleased to know you don’t need to be all zen in order to create zen in your life.
What I do know is that without creating the space in your week to work on your vitality, the vision we have for our business just doesn’t happen. And this is what I want to help you stop from happening. Because when you are exhausted, you pull yourself back; you will talk yourself out of plans you feel you don’t have the capacity, confidence or courage to take action on.
If you want to discuss this with me and what you can do to redirect yourself and your business, get in touch or book in for a 30 minute zoom call. I’d love to help if I can.
Until next time, do less, be more, play bigger.
About the author
Karen Skidmore is a midlife leadership & business coach for entrepreneurs scaling their purpose & profit. Business Books Awards finalist 2020 & podcaster, Karen uniquely combines the being-ness and doing-ness of business to help you grow, without burning out.
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