Everyone experiences feelings of guilt, but what happens when those feelings begin interfering with your work and relationships? Four female founders reflect on their experiences overcoming entrepreneur guilt and share their tips on staying productive throughout the journey.
As an entrepreneur, there are countless sacrifices that have to be made in both your personal and professional life. Having to cancel certain commitments or dedicating more time to your business than your partner or family can quickly begin taking its toll. While overcoming guilt is no easy feat, it can be done. Here are some useful tips from female entrepreneurs to help you overcome entrepreneur guilt.
Strive For Balance
As a wife and mom of two young children, Audrey Craig, CEO of GB Design House, learned that balance is key when striving to eliminate entrepreneur guilt that wives and mothers often feel.
"Though I may be present in body while my kids are playing, my mind is with the client, and I'm often juggling phone calls too. That leaves a heavy layer of guilt when I go to bed, and I'm waiting for the drawing of our family that my daughter will do at school showing a stick-figure of mommy with a laptop and a phone. But just when I block it all out and spend a well-needed weekend unplugged with my family, I go to bed with the guilt that I didn't check my emails and come up with new designs for an upcoming event."
In order to tackle her feelings of guilt, Craig made the necessary changes needed to achieve balance between her professional and personal life.
"What helps me navigate the guilt is to remember that balance is the key. I am a better mom and better business woman when I keep a balance in my life. It's okay to leave a messy desk at the office if it means I can see my daughter do her first flip-flop at gymnastics. It's also okay for me to meet with an event planner that just flew in, and not sign up for the second field trip of the semester."
Decide What is Non-Negotiable
Entrepreneurs are masterful in the art of multitasking and have no qualms about wearing multiple hats in order to get their work done. However, once embarking on certain commitments, it becomes imperative that you see them through to the end– at times costing you the chance to give your time and energy to people or commitments that matter most. Entrepreneur Dethra Giles, Founder of ExecuPrep, quickly learned the importance of deciding which of her commitments were non-negotiable and how to prioritize them into her schedule.
"I own a Performance Management Consulting firm and I am a sought-after keynote speaker with clients across the globe. This means that there are some months that I travel three weeks out of four. My children are growing up and life is moving forward, I am not there and that guilt is hard to bounce back from."
For Giles, time with family is non-negotiable. She shares some of her tips for prioritizing them amidst her busy schedule.
1."Be tech savvy: who knew that I would live in the age of the Jetsons. No flying cars but video calls are real. When I am away my kids and I jump on video call quite often."
2."A mess is OK: I grew up in a house that was always clean. So, walking into a messy house nearly took me to my grave, but I got over it and hired help. I didn't grow up with such resources so the idea of having a maid did not sit well with me, but the idea of spending limited but valuable time cleaning my house instead of truly interacting with my family was way more uncomfortable. The times when the maid is not there, I tell myself "I am raising people not clothes so those unfolded clothes will be fine."
Establish A Strong Team
For Emily Taffel, owner of Mugsy PR, establishing a strong team played an essential role towards easing her guilt by granting her the freedom to spend more time with her family.
"My step kids started hiding my laptop so I wouldn't work as much and that was my wakeup call. I was feeling guilty for not being with them, but then feeling guilty about not working when I was with them. By building up a strong team and putting in place some procedures to ensure I can step away more often, I have been able to remove some of the guilt and find a better balance."
Taffel took the initiative to surround herself with responsible, hard-working people who she could trust to help improve the efficiency of her business.
"We brought in very self-motivated people who often times think of an idea or a next step before I do. Instead of trying to lead employees I feel like everyone at Mugsy owns their work. They lead the projects instead of me trying to manage them. There is a lot of creative autonomy here which our team thrives on. We also started using Trello to track projects which allowed me to manage every aspect of things whether I was on-site or not."
Get Clear on Your Goals
While it is only natural for entrepreneurs to seek more opportunities to scale their businesses, there comes a time when you have to consider that some opportunities may not be aligned with your goals. Liz Toombs, president and owner of PDR Interior, has experienced all sorts of guilt throughout the course of building her business. As her business grew, her guilt stemmed from spending more time working than with her family.
"I don't know why, as entrepreneurs, and more specifically, as female entrepreneurs we saddle ourselves with guilt. Deep down I know this work is exactly what I should be doing, but for some reason I hold myself to a standard that always requires me to be doing more."
Over the past few months, Toombs has approached her work life in a more realistic manner by identifying her goals and focusing solely on how to achieve them.
1. "Working with an executive coach who helps me get perspective on what my goals are, why I have set them, where I am in the process of reaching them, and being kind to myself while working on them."
2. "Opportunities that come my way may be really cool, but every one of them isn't always going to align with the goals I am working towards. I have experienced burn-out and extreme fatigue from filling my days with things that don't assist in achieving those goals. I don't want to feel that way again, so I'm working on politely declining anything that doesn't make sense for me right now in order to stay sharp and focused."
Overcoming entrepreneur guilt is not an easy process, but it is to your benefit. Tackling these negative feelings head on will allow you to be your best, most productive self in both your personal and professional life.
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Personally, I am over the top excited that we are on the cusp of turning the page on not only a new year but also on a new 10-year window of opportunities and possibilities!
You may be thinking, whoa…I am just embracing the fall season…yikes… it is tough to think about a new decade!
Yet it is this groundwork, this forward thought that you put in place TODAY that will propel you and lead you into greatness in 2020 and beyond. Designing a new decade rests in your ability to vision, in your willingness to be curious, in your awareness of where you are now and what you most want to curate. Essentially, curating what's next is about tapping into today with confidence, conviction, and decision. Leading YOU starts now. This is your new next. It is your choice.
Sometimes to get to that 'next', you need to take a step back to reflect. Please pardon my asking you to spend time in yesterday. Those who know me personally, know that I created and continue to grow my business based on enabling the present moment as a springboard for living your legacy. So, indulge me here! True, I am asking you to peek into the past, yet it is only in order for you to bring the essence of that past forward into this moment called NOW.
One of the best ways to tap into what's next is to clarify what drives you. To design a new decade, ask yourself this question about the past ten years:
What worked? What were my successes?
Make a list of your achievements big and small. Don't type them, but rather use ink and paper and sit with and savor them. Move your thoughts and your successes from your head, to your heart, to your pen, to the paper. Remember that on the flip side of goals not attained and New Year's resolutions abandoned, there was more than likely some traction and action that moved you forward, even if the end result was not what you expected. Once you have a full list of a decade's worth of personal and professional accomplishments, think about how this makes you feel. Do you remember celebrating all of them? My guess is no. So, celebrate them now. Give them new life by validating them. Circle the successes that resonate with you most right now. Where can you lean into those accomplishments as you power into the decade ahead?
Now comes a tougher question, one that I used myself in my own mid-life reinvention and a question I adore because in a moment's time it provides you with a quick reconnect to your unique inner voice.
If it were 10 years ago and nothing were standing in your way, no fear or excuses to contend with…what would you do?
Don't overthink it. The brilliance of this question is that it refocuses purpose. Whatever first came to mind when you answered this for yourself is at its core a powerful insight into defining and redefining the FUTURE decade. Bring your answer into the light of today and what small piece of it is actionable NOW? Where is this resonating and aligning with a 2019 version of yourself?
Then, based on your success list and your answer to the above question, what is your 2020 vision for your business and for the business of YOU?
Designing a new decade begins as a collection of 3,650 opportunities. 3,650 blank slates of new days ahead in which to pivot and propel yourself forward. Every single one of those days is a window into your legacy. An invitation to be, create, explore, and chip away at this thing we call life. One 24-hour segment at a time.
While you have a decade ahead to work on design improvements, you have the ability to begin manifesting this project of YOU Version 2020 right NOW. Based on exploring the exercises in this post, begin executing your vision. Ask questions. Be present. Let go of 2019 and the past 10 years so that you can embrace the next 10. Position acceptance and self-trust at the forefront of how you lead you. One choice at a time.
Don't get bogged down in the concept of the next 10 years. Instead position clarity and intention into each new day, starting today. Then chase every one of those intentions with an in-the-moment commitment and solution toward living a legendary life!