Most coaching clients who are in business for themselves come to coaching because they have goals they need help achieving. These goals can include increasing sales, income, or efficiency; becoming better at time management, or creating better work life balance. All laudable goals, to be sure and worthy of their attention. But regardless of the tenacity, determination and ability of the client, if they try to accomplish their own personal Everest without a firm footing at base camp, their particular journey on the road to the top will probably take longer and have more detours than they had originally imaged.
Wonder why? In this world of instant and constant connectedness, with Blackberries, cell phones and computers making being out of contact virtually impossible (pun intended), many small business owners are run ragged. They find themselves reacting to everyone else's agenda, instead of setting their own.
For example, there's the young Realtor who answers every call on their cell phone, regardless of where they are or what they are doing. Their more seasoned counterparts look on bemused, wondering how long it will take these young Turks to learn the importance of screening their calls, putting their phones on vibrate, or better yet, giving out the office's phone number instead of their own.
Many small business owners believe they are so pressured for time that they can not take an hour to go to the doctor, for a growing cyst that might be cancerous. Others believe that their customer's emergency – due to poor planning on their customer's part – is now their as they run around trying to solve a problem they did not create. And still others insist that their families are their priority while a closer examination using time as the measurement shows that this is not the case.
For these small business owners, extreme self care is the first step in wrestling back control of their lives, before they start the climb up their personal Everest. Too busy reacting to others agendas instead of their own, demonstrating little or no ability to say no, and no tangible evidence of any respect for their own boundaries, they are usually exhausted before they even beginning trying to make the climb. Before starting such a journey, it helps to be healthy, centered, focused, energetic and surrounded by people and environments that will support them and not deter them.
That's where self care comes in.
The first step I recommend if you're in a similar situation is simplifying your life. Create an absolute yes list and put the rest of your activities on hold. This can be very difficult to do, for a variety of reasons. First, the people around you will not like it when you draw back and stop doing what they currently depend on you to do. But it's essential, because if you do not, you'll be too busy to practice self care.
The second thing I recommend is to begin putting yourself first, instead of second, third, fourth, fifth and last. While some might see this as extreme, many people will not practice self care to the level it should be practiced unless they are given permission to do so.
Once they become better at working their "no," muscle, at naming, sticking to and enforcing personal boundaries, then and only then can they take the third step in self care, which is getting nourished. This can come from a variety of sources: friends, family, food, activities, exercise, and home and work environments.
After business owners and entrepreneurs take these three steps, their chances of reaching their personal Everest increase dramatically, often with fewer detours and surprises. That's not to say that there will not be any surprises, because no one can control all the forces around us, be it weather, other climbers, or something else. If my past experience is any indicator, I know that as some of you read this, you're thinking that you do not have time to practice self care. Your goal is so important that it can not wait.
But ask any successful business owner or climber and they'll confirm that it takes longer to reach a goal if you have not done everything that's demanded at base camp. The smartest thing you can do is take the metaview, look at the big picture, by taking a step back. An added bonus of doing so is that your life will be more balanced, you'll have more room for the things you really want in your life and you'll feel a lot better when you do starting work on your goal.
Once you begin looking after yourself, it will be hard to go back to what you now see was a crazy, out of control life. It really is all about the journey and not the destination, because what's the point of reaching Everest if the trip, even up to base camp, leaves you exhausted and spent? And equally as important, if you do manage to get there, but feel worn out from it all, how much energy will you have for celebrating the momentous event? And as leaders in the human potential field tell us; stopping to celebrate and acknowledge our victory is imperative, as doing so psychologically spurs us on to even bigger and better things.
Business owners and entrepreneurs who practice self care by exercising, eating well and getting enough sleep find that they get more done than their counterparts who work longer hours, eat lunch off the sides of their desks and keep insane hours. Practicing these steps will increase the chances that you're about to enjoy your business over the long haul.