I know when I am feeling inspired and aligned, I feel like I can do anything. I feel like I can work and homeschool and maybe even get a load of washing on. I come up with ideas (like this series of articles), I write more, believe in my ideas but… not every day is like that. When we run our own businesses, we can put A LOT of pressure on ourselves to make every day an I can take on the world and win type day, making us hard on ourselves and our business.
According to the IPSE, Covid has seriously affected those who freelance, work for themselves or run their own business. Their research shows that before the coronavirus outbreak, 68% of respondents rated their mental health as good, but since the outbreak, its dropped to 39%, so clearly we all need to do something.
Kindness, being gentle and slow living, have become popular phrases but how do we make that happen in a way that means we can still be productive and turn a profit while being gentle my business and ourselves?
According to the lovely gentle life mindful business coach, Emily Hodge, the biggest thing we can do to be gentle to ourselves is slow down. ‘When we’re running a business, we tend to want to get to the goal, hurdle or next point as quickly as possible but that puts so much pressure on us to act and think quickly, that we’re often operating under stress. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to have goals, but too much (high targets, too many things to do, more people to please, etc.) can put unnecessary stress on us.’
Although I agree, it seems unnatural to go easy on myself, like I am being too passive and if I stop the whole thing will collapse, but Emily believes it actually takes discipline and strength to be gentle with yourself. ‘It’s really hard. People who come to this theme are often those who’ve pushed hard all their lives without realising they need a better way to sustain their energy and outcomes. That means it’s about relearning what’s normal for them and what they expect of themselves.’
Emily suggests operating in what she calls the ‘flow zone.’ An area where we have healthy pressure that spurs us forward, but not so much that we are stressed and overworked. ‘Being in the flow zone – usually by slowing down because we’ve been operating under stress before – is the most gentle thing we can do for our business. For example – when thinking about what you want for your business in the next six months, aim to achieve profit, sure! But do it without working 100 hour weeks and burning yourself out within a month.’
We all know this to be true. We all know that to think about the long game, which includes us being at our best physical and mental health. Being gentle requires us to focus our time and energy on what really matters and to cut out the noise and distraction.
‘We keep moving forward and get things done whilst being gentle by being strict with ourselves. We do less; we focus, we stay aligned with what’s right for us and our values, which makes us more efficient, more likely to achieve more, and in a happier easier way.’
A simple tool I will be stealing from Emily is her automatic email response that says unless you are one of her clients, she usually takes 2-3 days to reply – thanks for understanding! I love this. It sets expectation and takes away the panic of needing to drop everything and any given moment to respond to emails. It’s small yet effective, and it encourages me to think about my business and how I can create more space to focus on Copywriting.
Emily suggests we ask ourselves, is this too much? How much pressure am I putting on myself? Is this making me happy? What feels right about this? ‘Because by gently allowing those questions to pop up, we’re reviewing what in our business (and life overall) is good and positive, and which isn’t – so we can stop or adjust them.’
A big thank you to Emily Hodge for her all her advice. You can find out more about Emily and all the amazing ways she can help you and your business on her website and I am a huge fan of Emily’s Instagram page – Gentle Life, Mindful Business so I would definitely suggest checking that out!