Many years ago, after my husband and I both graduated with advanced degrees in health-related fields, it only made sense that we open our own clinic and go into business for ourselves. After all, I had a background in accounting, he was a skilled acupuncturist, I was a skilled therapist, we had everything we needed. Running a business was going to be easy. Or was it?
It didn’t take long to know I was in over my head. What did I know about marketing, websites, social media, insurance billing and so much more that was critical to our success? Little to nothing.
All I wanted to do was see my clients, collect payments and enjoy my flexible schedule. Instead, I was learning new skills, dealing with insurance companies and negotiating rental agreements. There was always something to do and it felt like somebody always wanted something from me. And that hasn’t changed over the years.
Women business owners are especially susceptible to losing balance in their lives while attempting to juggle a home life with all the demands of running a business. You may find yourself on the bottom of the priority list, saying yes to things you should be saying no to and often feeling exhausted and/or getting sick.
If you want to stay in business and maintain your sanity, your self care has to be a top priority. Here are some tips for putting yourself higher on the list and for saying no more often.
How to put yourself higher on the priority list:
- Make a list of all the areas in your life that you manage. This is fun to do on a mind map. (Visit www.mindmapping.com.)
- What is more important than you? Notice how it feels in your body to be less important. What’s the body posture that goes with feeling less important? Notice how the body posture would shift if you were just as important or more important than whatever you identified. Experience this new posture for thirty seconds.
- Do an honest evaluation of your priorities.
- Assess how much time you spend working, resting, playing, and taking time for yourself.
- Determine what an ideal ratio would be.
- Journal or list what action steps you could take to achieve balance.
- Commit to taking one small step in that direction.
How to say no:
Think about saying no in a situation where it feels challenging to do that.
- Notice what images come to mind when you think about saying no, what sensations you feel in your body, and any thoughts or beliefs you have about saying no. Be willing to allow any uncomfortable memories to arise.
- Find the posture of no in your body. If you notice you are shrinking or contracting, try on a bigger, more firm no. Notice if you enjoy it or feel a little frightened by it. Either way, keep practicing.
- Practice saying no in areas that are less uncomfortable and build up to the more difficult ones.
- Think of a friend who is really good at saying no and imagine being him or her in those tough situations.
- Play with saying the words “yes” and “no” for as long as it takes to notice they are both just sounds.
- Imagine your inner child saying, “No, no, no,” as she stamps her foot and throws a fit.
- Don’t look for excuses. Just say no. The more you feel you have to defend your no, the more it will feel wrong that you are saying it.
- Remember that you have now put yourself higher on the priority list and if you say yes to others, you are saying no to yourself.
Melanie Smithson is the author of Stress Free in 30 Seconds: A Slightly Irreverent Approach to Navigating Life’s Challenges and the e-book, Reclaiming an Adult Relationship to Play. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor, Board Certified Dance Movement Therapist, Certified Sedona Method Coach and co-owns Smithson Clinic, Inc. (www.smithsonclinic.com) with her husband, Gail in Lakewood, Colorado, where they live with their supreme playmate, the four-legged Beatrice. Melanie offers workshops and trainings throughout the world. To learn more about Melanie, visit www.melaniesmithson.com