Written by Gentle Business Mastermind
Have you ever considered what it takes to grow a successful, sustainable, socially conscious business? Have you ever looked at another social media post, ad or program that exclaims you too can have a seven-figure business if only you ‘knuckle down,’ ‘hustle,’ follow their specific 6-step formula, ‘work hard’ and subscribe to the ‘bigger is better’ mentality and thought to yourself, ‘There must be another way’? Us too! Many folks who start their own business are driven by wanting to create a lifestyle that suits them rather than be chained to a desk. And it’s our greatest joy in life to support people to grow their business gently. Without the hustle and burnout.
One of the most life-changing shifts we’ve experienced in growing our businesses gently, has been understanding, embracing and appreciating different cycles so we can practice greater levels of self-care. We aren’t designed to be ‘on’ and ‘striving’ all the time. We need times of rest, replenishment and deep self-care too.
Here are four practical tips to help practice self-care and embrace the changing cycles in your business:
#1. Get into Alignment
Alignment is when you are in flow, connected to your intuition and are showing up to your work and life connected to the values and intentions that matter most to you in this season of your life.
When you’re in alignment, you feel at peace, knowing you’re working on what is important. You are present and trust your intuition, instead of feeling anxious and stressed out all the time.
Getting into alignment gives you space to make an intentional decision about how to focus your time and energy and gives you permission to embrace pockets of focused work and pockets of intentional rest, instead of wasting time continually questioning if you’re allowed to work this way or are doing the right thing.
PRACTICAL TIP: How to get into alignment at the start of your work session? You may find exercising, having a cup of tea as you review your calendar/to-do list gently, or exploring what supports you, are great ways to get into alignment. It could be getting up first thing and sitting down to emails with a coffee before the rest of the house wakes up OR it could be taking time in the morning to move your body, potter around, clean, and eat a big breakfast, so that when you sit down, you’re ready! Do what feels best, for you.
#2. Understand & Embrace Your Menstrual Cycle
If you menstruate, you can tap into your monthly cycle to help you plan your time so you can do tasks in your business in alignment with your natural ‘super-powers’ during that part of your cycle. And if you don’t menstruate, you can use the moon to help you remember to pause, reflect, plan and take action on different areas of your business.
There are four ‘inner seasons’ of our menstrual cycle – Spring (pre-ovulation), Summer (ovulation) Autumn (pre-menstrual) and Winter (menstruum). When we understand each inner season’s strengths, we can work with our hormones to support us in doing business tasks with an awareness of what comes most naturally during each of those phases.
So, for example, you may notice you are excellent at editing your work during your autumn phase, so you keep drafts to edit during that part of your cycle. Or you may notice your confidence and out-going nature shine during your inner summer, when your oestrogen levels naturally have you feeling like you can take on the world, so you schedule important meetings or ‘putting yourself forward/out there’ during that phase of your cycle.
Understanding your personal cycle, rhythms and needs can be a beautiful way to practice self-care and build your business gently.
PRACTICAL TIP: I love to use the Clue app to track my cycle. You can download it to your phone and use it to easily track what you are feeling and noticing in your cycle each month.
#3. Do You Want a Lifestyle Business? Get Clear On Your Priorities
A lifestyle business is a business that supports your lifestyle, rather than a business that is all about growth at any cost (especially when hustling is a detriment to your mental or physical health or emotional wellbeing).
Building a lifestyle business means bringing awareness around your to-do list and being very intentional about what is going to serve you and your business best, in each moment.
It is about checking in with yourself, noticing how you feel, asking what is the most important and most urgent for you to do right now. Asking yourself “Is this ‘busy work’ or actually vital for taking my business forward?”
PRACTICAL TIP: Blend in self-compassion with your to-do list. When we are exhausted, or tired, reminding ourselves it is ok to let tasks wait until tomorrow is an important skill to develop. Don’t force yourself with over the top pressure to get everything done. Enjoy yourself, enjoy the journey. This is your life, now,
in this moment.
#4. Know the Season You Are In: Is it Focused Work, Challenge or Rest?
We all move through different seasons in our businesses and lives. Understanding which season you are in, allows you to relax, knowing what you need to make allowances for and how you can best support yourself in each phase.
There are three main seasons we all move through, and these can shift over the course of a few hours, days, weeks or even years.
Focused Work: This is often when you are launching something new, or bringing to life a new creative project, offering or program.
Challenge: This is when you haven’t chosen the situation you are in, but it is imposed on you, such as illness forcing you to rest or financial pressure forcing you into a season of Focused Work.
Rest: This is as it sounds, a time of rest. But it isn’t as easy as it might sound!
We need to be mindful of blending rest into the other two seasons we are in. It is best to give yourself rest along the way, rather than burn out and be forced to rest without choosing to. Blending bursts of Focused Work with bursts of Rest will help you grow your business, gently.
Be mindful and ask “How is this season serving me?” Each season has its own gifts and challenges. Rather than resisting the season you are in, ask yourself if you can blend more intentional Focused Work or Rest into this current season and ask yourself how that would that serve you and your business.
PRACTICAL TIP: Take care of your body, energy and physical needs during each season. Eat well. You may like to get your groceries delivered, write a list of main meals, order the ingredients and keep a list in the kitchen so you don’t forget what you’ve got to cook this week. Move regularly. Break up periods of time at the desk or computer. Get up, stretch, use a ball to massage your back or neck muscles by rolling around on it to get those difficult to reach spots and have an ‘at-home’ massage. Get enough rest. You possibly need more rest than you realise. Try being generous with yourself when it comes to rest. Ask: “What do I know supports me?” And give yourself as much of that as you can.
Please find some journal prompts below to help you put these tips into action:
- REFLECT ~ What does your current self-care look like? ~ Does it work for you? If not, why do you think this is? ~ Is there too much/little of anything?
- CONSIDER ~ What is preventing you from practicing more self-care? ~ Have you tried to make changes? If so, what did you learn from them? ~ Can you recall a time when things worked well? If so, what were you doing differently?
- DREAM ~ What would your ideal self-care practise look and feel like? ~ What would you love to include or remove?
- ACT ~ What is one simple action you can take to move towards that dream?
Here’s to finding new, gentle ways of doing business!
Written by Gentle Business Mastermind
This article is an excerpt from the free eBook, Grow Your Business the Gentle Way by Nicola Newman, Naomi Arnold and Amanda Rootsey.