After blogging about my last few months of resting and recuperating following a procedure on my spine, I have been amazed by the feedback I have received.  It seems that this topic of self care is one that strikes a deep chord in many of us and goes much deeper than just remembering to take enough down time to recharge our physical batteries.  It’s about caring for our body, soul, and spirit.  At its core, self care is the commitment to value ourselves.

What does that look like as a creative entrepreneur?  If I look at the sphere of successful businesses around me, often it seems like being a driven workaholic is celebrated; sacrificing yourself, your family, and community are a given.  The mindset that if you are not working like a mad person from early to late you are not a ‘real’ entrepreneur.

For years I bought in to this mindset hook, line, and sinker.  Quality time with my husband looked like us working late into the night side by side on our laptops.  Dates revolved around business discussions.  Clients got used to emailing me at 9 pm at night, expecting a response… the same day.  I remember several days into vacation (I used that term loosely back then!)  I was sitting in my car sending files to the printer for a client before leaving on a cruise.  I believed my clients wouldn’t survive if I wasn’t constantly at their beck and call.  Consequently because I lived that way I shouldn’t have been surprised that they believed the same thing!  I survived on caffeine and felt constantly exhausted and wondered why I was overwhelmed as my business grew.

When I caught myself prepping my resume with the intent of getting a job working for someone else the week after logging my highest income generating month in business I knew that something was seriously wrong.  Shouldn’t I be excited that my hard work was paying off?  I was burning out…correction…I was burnt out.

What is Self Care?

Self care is:

  1. Recognizing that you have a need.
  2. Discovering what that need is.
  3. Taking responsibility for making sure that need is met. 

Self care can seem like such a nebulous and often elusive concept because we are all so different.  We all have different needs and different ways of meeting those needs, so in a room of a dozen people you will probably find that they have a dozen definitions on what self care looks like in their lives…and the application of that definition is constantly changing!  While being a workaholic is considered almost a given in many careers by business owners and employers alike, how often are we taught the tools to understand and practice self care in the various arenas of life?  Self care does not equal lazy, it equals making a commitment to value ourselves and our needs so that we are responding to our personal and professional lives with a powerful choice instead of a reaction or even a compulsion.

Self care ultimately creates an environment with the goal of operating out of the overflow of life instead of scraping the bottom of the barrel and always wondering when you will come up empty.

When I started practicing self care I realized that I could work hard, but that I owned my work – my business and my work no longer owned me.

Self Care is not a Formula

When I decided to write a series about self care I was determined to break it down into a formula that went something like a viral BuzzFeed article: “Entrepreneur tries these 5 steps to self care, and the 4thone will SHOCK you!”.  *Insert Jaws theme music*.  But it didn’t quite work out that way…

I like formulas in their proper place; they tend to be straight forward, replicable, and to the point.  All good things, right?  It gives you the feeling that your results are guaranteed and if things don’t work out exactly as predicted the error lies in the user, not the formula, so just try, try again!  A formula is valuable in its proper place – a math equation, a science experiment, the way you do bookkeeping or balance a business budget.   But a formula outside of an appropriate application divorces the human component and lends itself to becoming a ceiling, not a foundation.

While the definition of self care may be straightforward, its application isn’t formulaic.  Self care isn’t dramatic or catchy, it doesn’t sell headlines, and it most certainly doesn’t lend itself to nail biting drama – although it may be cause for surprise in the people around you when they experience the new you!

When you adopt self care as standard practice a new you truly emerges.  Not just a new you, but the REAL you!

I wish self care was as easy as eating a certain diet, sleeping a specific number of hours a night, working ‘x’ number of hours a week, or taking a certain number of days off every quarter.  The reality is that self care is a living, breathing thing that continually changes because it is a reflection of you and your current inflow and outflow in life.

Principles of Self Care

The commitment to self care is our foundation, the place that we all can start from.  The way that we build on that foundation to meet our individual needs are to apply the unique principles of self care.  The next few weeks I will be sharing the principles that have changed my personal and professional life.  Next week we will start with the principle of creating space and how to recognize what your needs are.  For those of you who are visual like me get ready for some fun worksheets and downloads! Ready to get started? Click the ‘subscribe to blog via email’ button in the right column so you never miss a post!

Let’s Chat:

  • On a scale of 1 to 10, how well do you feel you are practicing self care in your person and professional life?
  • Have you ever experienced burnout?  What did you do to recover self care in your life?
  • What are some of your biggest struggles with practicing self care as a creative entrepreneur?
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