It was my birthday yesterday (yay!) and I am now the grand old age of 35. Woolf Works is also turning the grand old age of 1 in a week or so, so it feels like a particularly poignant time. This year has really been the cliché entrepreneur’s rollercoaster – big highs of accomplishment with big lows of ‘what the hell have I gotten myself into’.
This last month or two particularly has been tough on me and in the interest of ‘keeping it real’ I’m going to be honest about what I have been going through – because I know behind all the happy social media photos we all go through crap times.
I had a bit of a burn-out last month, though probably no one else knew it. It’s amazing how conditioned we are at keeping up a façade isn’t it?
My burn-out was caused by a multitude of factors including:
- working on a bunch of different things simultaneously and without enough planning or support
- not packing lunches or snacks for work and so either not eating, or eating takeout
- no exercise
- not enough sleep
- two kids who were fighting constantly
- a husband on a on a long overseas trip
- over-scheduling myself
It ended in a lot of tears.
But, most importantly, it also ended in a great chance to reassess how I was doing things, which was obviously unsustainable.
Once the tears had passed and I realised it was time to make some changes – some of which are short term, some are long term:
- Taking control of my work by extensive list making, project-based organization, deadlines and identifying what I can delegate, what is urgent and what is just going to have to wait. I’m also exploring automation and creating pathways and forms that require less input for me while getting the right information out.
- Seeing a nutritionalist to help with food planning, learn about healthy snacks to fuel long days at work, to learn about healthy menu choices when I am eating out, and to get some accountability and track what I am eating.
- Seeing a therapist. Yes. Here I am, saying it out loud. And you know what, it feels great to have an outlet and to learn skills to deal with unhelpful thought patterns and negativity.
- Limiting nights out to two per week and learning how to say ‘No’. There are so many great events on, so much I want to be part of and so many people I want to meet! But if I want to be healthy and effective I need to have sleep. I already have a 2 year old keeping me up – I don’t need to be out till midnight all week on top of that.
- Exercising when I can. Last year I went hardcore – personal trainer three times a week, running two or three times a week. I’m kind of all or nothing with exercise and the last three months it’s been nothing. Now I’m finding an in-between, something manageable and much less stressful. A swim one morning, a 3 km run the next evening, or a yoga class at lunch time.
The last, and quite possibly the best thing I’m doing: A weekend retreat.
I’m writing this from a hotel room in Singapore, tucked away from the world. I have a pile of books, some writing projects and my running shoes. I plan to sleep and read a lot and I have been looking forward to this for weeks. It was time for me to get off the frantic bullet train of life and have some time out for me.
I’m learning that one of the greatest gifts of getting older is getting to know myself better. Learning my triggers for over eating or not eating, learning to give myself structure to stop the overwhelm and learning that ‘good enough’ can be enough – I don’t need to be perfect.
Have you taken a personal retreat? How do you cope with overwhelm?
We have two retreats coming up with Woolf Works this year – the first is a Writers Retreat, dates to be announced – a long weekend close by to Singapore with lots of time to write, share, have a massage, write some more and make new friends over dinner and drinks in the evening. Interested? We’ll be limiting the numbers so email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to be on the first invite list.
The second retreat is to Bhutan where we will be working on mindfulness and self leadership. It will be in either November or March. Lots more info available here and you can register your interest here.
Always great to know your thoughts and feedback. Drop me a line anytime (though forgive me if I don’t reply immediately, I’m taking that email pressure of myself too!)