I recently saw a post on Instagram from @_melanintalks that said, “Capitalism has us fooled. The ‘hustle 24/7’ culture is toxic and many of us don’t have an identity that isn’t attached to our careers, education, or earnings. You are enough even when you aren’t busy. Normalize resting”
I shared this post in my stories, because it struck a chord with me as a business owner. I am new to this entrepreneur's life and will be the first to admit that it consumes much of my time. I do not have a team working for me. It is just me, trying my best to meet these goals.
During the day, while I am running my business, I am also working as a mom and homemaker. No lie, the struggle of balancing it all is rough! The days where I am working super late are not my favorite days. I feel bad on the days when my daughter asks, “Mommy, why are you always working”? I have never desired to be that person working every day, all day, though, sometimes I am guilty.
Work-Life Balance In Germany
During our time living in Germany, I saw a completely different way of life and loved it. I noticed many businesses, including restaurants would close for several hours during the afternoon and reopen later in the day. Germany has at least 15 legal holidays where pretty much everything is closed. And get this, on Sundays most shops are closed to support the idea that Sundays are supposed to be a day to relax. In general, I got the vibe that taking breaks from work is welcomed and encouraged in Germany.
In the States, the vibe is the complete opposite. You hear people say things like “I’ll sleep when I am dead”. Crazy, right?! Like the quote from @_melanintalks suggests, Americans are taught to work hard, all day, every day. Americans consider you lazy if you aren’t “booked and busy”. We often lead with the question, “what do you do”? Nobody ever asks, “when is the last time you took a break”? We always expect everyone to be working on something- grinding.
Here’s the great news! You DESERVE to take a break. You DESERVE to have a so-called “lazy” day. You DESERVE to relax.
How to Take a Break
1. Schedule breaks in your day and/or week. Literally, in your planner write “take a break” (or similar). Whether you work for yourself or an employer, you can schedule breaks into your life. As an employee, it often means taking the lunch break and short breaks that you are legally allowed to take, rather than skipping them to get more work done. For Entrepreneurs, that often means stepping away from the work or not filling your schedule with meeting all day, every day.
2. Normalize self-care. Don’t fall for the narrative that you are selfish if you take time for yourself and enjoy a break from the hustle. Incorporating self-care into your life is how you present your best self and contribute to the success of your business/career.
3. Admit the work will always be there. You will never get it all done to the point where you have nothing else to do. Even if you work until 1 am every night, you will still wake with a full day of work ahead of you unless you are throwing in the towel. Yes, it is important to meet hard deadlines, but after that, you have to learn when to insert the break and start back up at another time.
4. Learn to prioritize. Since there will always be work to get done, you have to know that not everything is important. Some things really can wait. Quiet as it’s kept, many things can wait.
5. Set up processes to do the work for you. This is especially for entrepreneurs. Brainstorm ideas that you can implement that will help you meet your goals without much output from you. This could be in the form of using digital systems, so you are not having to devote ridiculous amounts of time to manually “crunching numbers” or flipping through paperwork. This could also be in the form of selling products that generate some form of residual income, such as selling a course within your area of expertise. This is the idea of work once, reap perpetually. The goal is to find ways to decrease your physical workload. Starting a Shirt Shop is a great idea for residual income.
6. Outsource when it makes sense. I have seen many people talking about outsourcing the mundane tasks that consume their time. There are Virtual Assistants and even websites like Fiverr that give you access to people who can complete jobs for you for a fee. If you can afford this, do it!
7. Get an accountability partner. You need someone in your life that cares enough about you to check on your well-being. It is great to have people in your life that push you and motivate you to meet your goals. You also need people in your life that encourage you to have a seat sometimes! You especially need people in your life that don’t judge you when they call you at 2 pm on a Tuesday and you are at the beach, rather than sitting behind a computer screen.
8. Start a Gratefulness journal. Sometimes we overwork ourselves trying to reach goals and forget that we have already achieved some other goals. The gratefulness journal will help you maintain a positive state of mind and make it easier to reward yourself with a break to celebrate past wins.
9. Listen to your body. Oftentimes, your body will let you know when you need a break, by way of physical ailments or just plain stress. Don’t ignore those cues. Our bodies are such intelligent machines. Like brakes that whistle before the pads are too low, our bodies are capable of giving us signs that it’s time to take a mental and/or physical break.
10. Tap into the other layers of you. Your identity goes beyond your career or business of choice. You are more than an employee or entrepreneur. Consider that if you lost it all tomorrow, God Forbid- who would you be? What else do you love to do? Who else do you like to give your time to? Make an intentional effort to incorporate these things and people into your schedule more.
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