I posted this on Facebook recently and it sparked an outpouring of emotion from lots of amazing women on my Facebook page…
“I saw a comment on my client’s Facebook page today that said she’s pooped because her gorgeous baby girl was up for 2 hours in the night.
I remember that feeling very well.
Trying to build a business while severely sleep deprived is no fun – in fact my little girl didn’t start sleeping through until she was 5, so I ran on hope and adrenaline for a long time.
The thing is, I used to try to be like the OTHERS. Those business owners without babies. The business owners whose children slept through. The guys who seemed to be flying along.
I used to beat myself up that my business wasn’t growing as quickly, that I was making silly mistakes, that I should have more energy.
Then one day I chose to give in.
I realised that I was comparing apples with pears. There was NO WAY I could do what other people were doing because they weren’t living my life.
I just had to do the best I could with the time and energy I had, while working around and enjoying my lovely little girl.
So I did.
And it may have been delayed by a couple of years, but I now have a VERY successful business and I even get to sleep through the whole night, which has been life-changing!
So if this is speaking to you. If you are sleep deprived, or coping with challenges of a different sort, and you’re beating yourself up and frustrated that it’s all moving slower than you’d like, consider giving in.
Not giving up
Just for a while.
Work around your challenges and within your limitations. Go with the flow. Don’t fight and struggle and try to be like THE OTHERS.
Be you, doing what you can with what you have.
It will all work out beautifully in the end.
love, Claire xx”
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This Little Post Really Hit A Nerve
There are SO MANY amazing women out there, building their business while tackling challenges that often seem insurmountable to those of us looking in from the outside. But they are doing it anyway.
I vividly remember a few times when I was so severely sleep deprived that I felt sick, started hallucinating and had to cancel meetings because there was NO WAY I could have driven, let alone given marketing advice at a meeting.
I was so determined to get this darned business making some money that I pushed and pushed against the sleep deprivation, despite the fact that I made stupid mistakes, silly decisions and was totally unproductive in my efforts. I pushed myself to far, for too long and it really affected my health.
Then one day, as I said in the Facebook post, I decided to give in.
I realised that I couldn’t keep going like this. I was making myself ill.
I knew in an instant that the only way this business was ever going to grow was if I was realistic and stopped being so hard on myself. I needed sleep (I SOOOOO needed sleep) so instead of booking meetings when my mum could have Chloe for an hour, I slept. Instead of rushing straight into work mode if I put Chloe into nursery for a morning, I slept. I spent a whole two weeks ignoring the business, pretty much, and just sleeping whenever I could, until I felt human again and had enough charge in my batteries to tackle work and life again.
Boundaries Saved My Sanity
And then I started putting boundaries in place.
I limited my work time to a couple of days a week and I limited my workload accordingly. I stopped working evenings. I spent weekends with my family instead of trying to cram in work and ‘get caught up’ (one of my favourite phrases at that time and I never DID seem to get caught up…)
Instead of taking on any old business, I started to be much more choosy about whom I worked with.
- I ditched the needy clients who didn’t understand my situation and demanded everything now (When I say ditched, I mean in a nice way – and I suggested other people who could help them)
- I ditched those clients who wanted me driving out to their premises every week, taking up my precious work (and sleep) time with pointless meetings
- I ditched those clients who emailed me at midnight and wanted a response by breakfast.
- I ditched the clients who didn’t fit around my family and my lifestyle.
- I didn’t even try to work evenings or weekends
What Was Left?
I was left with a handful of clients who were a perfect fit for my business (most of them were mums themselves)
- These clients were happy to talk on the phone or over Skype
- They put realistic schedules in place
- They didn’t email me at midnight with unreasonable demands
- They didn’t expect me to drop everything at short notice
- They paid me on time
- They understood if I had to take a call with a poorly toddler on my knee
- They were happy to be flexible if I ever had to reschedule a project due to Chloe stuff, but to be honest, it rarely happened.
And I did the best work for them I’d ever done.
- I had time to spend on their projects. Proper time, not midnight oil time.
- I had energy to put into their projects, instead of running on empty.
- I was able to really focus on this handful of clients, who were really happy with what I could give them.
- I got super-productive in my limited time
- I stopped beating myself up about not being good/successful enough
- I stopped comparing apples with pears
And do you know what?
I made more money, had more success and had more fun working with that small group of ideal clients than I ever did trying to keep a whole bunch of needy clients happy.
Tips From A Sleep Deprived Mum
Luckily those days are mostly in the past for me now (although, as I write this I’m feeling somewhat foggy as Chloe was up half the night with a poorly knee and I woke up feeling like my head was made of cotton wool) and once I gave in and started being kind to myself, things got a whole lot better. And once Chloe started school I was able to really get my teeth into my business, a couple of years later than planned, but today I’ve got the business I dreamed of (not THAT much later than planned).
Let me share what I wish I’d known earlier…
1. Stop comparing yourself with other people who are not living your life
2. Stop beating yourself up about not being enough – good enough, quick enough, successful enough – stop it!
3. Decide to give in, as soon as you can – NOW would be a good time.
4. Be realistic about what you can achieve with the time and energy you have – accept you have limited work time and don’t try to fit in more (your YOU time is precious and you MUST recharge your batteries)
5. Know that your business will still grow, it will just grow more slowly, accept it and give in to it.
6. Know that this struggle shall pass, and when it does you will blast your business with your new energy and it will grow quickly.
7. Every moment is precious. Don’t waste it wishing you were better. You are perfect as you are.
8. Set boundaries and stick to them – you will not regret it and they might save your sanity.
9. Everything is happening for a reason and it’s all happening at exactly the right time, even if you can’t see it yet.
10. You are awesome.
PS here is the Facebook post if you want to join in the discussion
Claire Mitchell is a best-selling author of the Awesome Marketing Planner and founder of The Girls Mean Business, a mum and business owner. She has been featured in Marie-Claire, The Guardian, Closer Magazine, Essentials, The Huffington Post and on the BBC.