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.
- How This Self-Care Entrepreneur Ditched Work Guilt For Wellness ›
- For Parent-Entrepreneurs, Stop the Guilt by Focusing on One Thing ... ›
- The Existential Guilt of Being an Entrepreneur | BostonHCP ›
- Entrepreneur guilt: what is it and how can I overcome it? - Plann ›
- Six Tips for Entrepreneurs on Creating a Guilt Free Schedule ›
- Powerful Professional Women Don't Get Paralyzed by Guilt ›
- Returning From The Brink: How A Few Words Can Save A Life ... ›
- Why the Guilt of Ambition Holds Us Back - Swaay ›
- Mompreneurs Share Their Tips, Tricks, and Advice To Getting It All ... ›
- 4 Tips For Protecting Our Entrepreneurial Minds - Swaay ›
- It's Stressful Being An Entrepreneur: Here's How To Cope - SWAAY ›
Starting with a little background, I am an anti-bullying advocate and have recently graduated from The Parent Leadership Training Institute, where as part of our studies we were asked to come up with a community project close to our hearts and put it into action. My cause was bullying, and I began a blog and Facebook page to address issues pertaining to all forms of bullying. Implementing this project was followed by a thre- minute speech to my peers, and, after all this, here is what I have learned about bullying.
Bullying makes people feel bad about themselves, leading to feelings of inadequacy, low self-esteem and even physical symptoms. The repercussions of bullying can cause people to miss school or work as well as countless other negative side effects.
I have been bullied both at school and at work, and I know of others who have suffered the same plight. It is not fun!
My first bullying experience was in seventh grade as a young teen. There was a group of three "mean girls" who harassed me and, I later found out, several of my friends; they thought it was funny to pick on others about their clothes, their looks or whatever else they could come up with (who knows). It felt awful at the time. Supposedly, I was chosen to get picked on because they claimed I bought my clothes at the Goodwill. That wasn't true, but really who cares? Why they were picking on me was never really the point. Luckily, after a while, the meanies went on to the next victim(s) like a never-ending cycle. I tend to think once a bully, always a bully, which goes to show how good a lifestyle that is, because those "mean girls" never amounted to much. In hindsight, I feel sorry for them. Watch the movie The Gift if you're really curious about what happens to bullies when they grow up.
And bullying was not just an issue when I was a teen, since then nothing much has changed. My own nephew was bullied in eighth grade, and he recently talked to me in depth about of how the bullying took a toll on him. Especially because I had the same experience, I could relate to him in ways that some others couldn't. Like reliving my own memories, I was incredibly broken up to hear how it made him feel.
Even worse than that, bullying does not end in the school yard. Employees are being bullied on the job at an alarming rate. When you are bullied on the job as an adult, it taken an even bigger toll. Further it doesn't just go away like those middle school "mean girls." Unless you can quit your job, you might just be stuck. There are all kinds of physical symptoms, stomach pains, migraines and even panic attacks. Beyond the physical, people's mental and emotional state is extremely sensitive to bullying, and as a result work performance might suffer. Furthermore, it might feel like there is no recourse, no one to believe you. You can hope that the HR Department is willing to listen and do something about it, but the whole process can be so disheartening. And in the hierarchical corporate environment, sometimes the bully seems to get ahead and you are left lagging behind in a subservient position. This is what happened to me as a victim of workplace bullying. It started with me being told by a co-worker that my boss was following me to the bathroom, staring down the hall whenever I left my desk to make sure I came right back to my seat. Then it was standing over me as I typed, ordering me to get in a car with them, not allowing me to sit somewhere if it wasn't within their sight. The list of offenses could go on endlessly. There were times I felt like I couldn't breathe. And then, the bully torturing me got a promotion. Like the character of Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada, the classic bully is revered by her peers, despite the fact that all of her employees are terrified of her. Yet, she is in a role of high stature and praised as a bully. We live in a culture that is not only complacent in the existence of bullies, but one that actively allows them to thrive.
It makes you realize how unfair life can be. Of course, no one said that life would be fair; maybe you just assumed that bad people would not get ahead. But, they do. Even now, I cannot help but to shake my head in disbelief. I often wonder what makes a person feel the need to laud their power over another. Are they insecure? Were they bullied themselves? They must feel bad about themselves in some way? Do they feel the need to do this to make themselves look good? Whatever the reason, it certainly isn't nice at all. I have found myself at different times in my life standing up for people who have been bullied around me. And I certainly do not allow anyone to treat me in any way that I find disrespectful. I truly believe in karma, and I tell myself that at some point in time, the bullies will get it back in some way. I have seen it happen, and in the meantime, I just say to myself "What goes around, comes around."
Bullying shows no sign of slowing down, and in this day and age, it's even worse than I have experienced in the past. Cyber bulling, rumors, fist fights, knifes, guns and other forms of both mental and physical cruelty, it truly sickens me. I know that I cannot save everyone, but I try to be an advocate as much as possible and encourage others to do so as well. NO ONE SHOULD BULLIED! It is disgraceful to say the least. You should always practice grace as much as you can. With every person who chooses to do so, the world gets a little bit better. I will be writing more on this topic on a regular basis; I feel it helps to talk about this subject aloud and spread the word. and, if nothing else, be kind.