Hands up if you’ve ever felt guilty where your business is concerned? Yes, me too.
- Sometimes I feel guilty when I’m working on my business that I’m not spending time with my daughter.
- Sometimes I feel guilty I’m neglecting my business when I’m having time out on a weekend.
- Sometimes I feel guilty I’m not spending enough time with my other half because I’m really focused on the business
- Sometimes I feel guilty that my house is a mess because I’m BUSY spending time on the business.
It doesn’t stop there.
I’ve been known to sneak into the bathroom at children’s birthday parties to catch up on work emails, so the other mums don’t think I’m antisocial.
I’ve pretended to be ill while answering the door because I’ve been so busy making the most of a quiet day, working on my business that my house looks like a tip and I feel I need an excuse to explain it away.
I’ve dealt with waves of guilt about being away overnight on the odd occasion I need to travel for business, especially after the inevitable tearful, emotional bedtime phone call from my then-8 year old.
Guilt is a bugger.
Guilt is horrible.
It doesn’t help anything and just piles on the pressure when you could really do without it.
It makes us feel sad, annoyed and distracted. It drains us of energy we could have put to much better use. When we’re feeling guilty, we are not enjoying what we are doing there and then.
You can’t enjoy time with your family if you’re feeling guilty about not working on your business.
You can’t enjoy the time you spend on your business if you’re feeling guilty about not giving your family your full attention.
So you’re never fully focused on what you’re doing and you’re beating yourself up about not being good enough. What’s THAT all about?
And where does all this guilt come from?
Well, I guess some of it comes from society – there are lots of views out there about how we should live our life. It doesn’t mean we have to listen to them, though.
Some of it is undoubtedly self-inflicted. We girls are experts at beating ourselves up about one thing or other – we put far too much pressure on ourselves and burden ourselves with unrealistic expectations about what we SHOULD be doing. We compare ourselves with others. Even worse, we compare ourselves with people on the TV, celebrities and stars. We look around for ways to prove we’re not good enough.
The thing is, GUILT doesn’t help anyone or anything. It’s a destructive, useless emotion that doesn’t make a single outcome any better.
It’s actually REALLY bad for your business.
Well, because you’re feeling guilty, you’re not focusing properly on what you’re doing. This means you’re not being very productive. Things take longer. You don’t do them as well as you could because you’re trying to minimise the time you’re spending working.
You can’t enjoy your work time so you’re missing out on all the lovely fun and creative energy you could be using, if only those pesky guilt mind monkeys would do one. You don’t get to celebrate or show off or shout about your achievements because you feel guilty about spending time on your business.
You don’t get to think like a business owner and that’s a shame because thinking like a business owner gives you Super Powers. That’s a whole different blog.
So How Do We Ditch The Dratted Guilt?
Well, first of all you have to realise you are doing the best you can.
Your version of life is very different to everyone else’s. Your circumstances are unique to you. There is NO POINT COMPARING yourself with other people, let alone celebrities (things are NEVER as they seem on the TV). You are doing the best you can with your circumstances and your life.
Yes, there’s a bit of juggling involved. Yes, you might get the odd grumpy comment or woeful look but remember you are doing this for the family. To create a better life for you all. You can’t create that better life if nothing changes – you HAVE to work on the business or it will never grow.
Secondly, you have to communicate.
Stop bottling it up. Stop feeling like you have to sneak work time. Have a family meeting and talk about your vision for the business and what you want to achieve, AND how it will help everyone in the family. Help them see you’re not being selfish or silly, you’re using your precious time to create something wonderful for you all.
Third, find a balance so everyone knows where they stand.
Set some work hours and STICK TO THEM. If every evening between 8 & 9.30pm is your business time, then crack on and get as much done in that 90 minutes as you possibly can. That way your other half knows they can get to see you after 9.30 and you won’t be trying to sneak away or begrudge having to leave your work. If mornings between 10 and 12 are your key business times, then tell people (family, friends, anyone who might be inclined to drop by or call you for a chat) so they know to leave you alone until you’re free. You won’t need to feel guilty – your business will be getting fixed bursts of attention and everyone else knows you’re available outside of those hours.
Guilt can’t strike if there is no reason to feel guilty. And if everyone knows where they stand, if everyone gets the time they need (including YOU) and if your business is getting regular bursts of energy and attention there IS NO REASON to feel guilty.
And finally, why not decide NOT to feel guilty?
It is a simple decision but you’ll be surprised at how quickly it changes things. Once you decide to let the guilt go, you can enjoy your time no matter what you’re doing. Remind yourself you are doing the best you can with what you have. There’s no room for guilt in your life – channel your energy into building your brilliant business and if the guilt mind monkeys strike, tell them to bog off, you’re too busy being awesome to worry about them!
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.