Many entrepreneurs have a habit of taking on a lot… sometimes too much. That is one of the reasons why we accomplish as much as we do: because we dare to. On the flip side of that is the threat of burnout. It is beautiful to strive for great things, push our limits, and excel. Whatever gave us the impression that we had to do it every day? Without recovery time, we quickly wear down our capacity to accomplish anything.
A Kickstarter kick in the ribs.
I recently completed our Kickstarter to raise funds and awareness for the Ask A Bookkeeper show, our online educational video series for small business owners. It was quite an adventure! For six weeks I was focused almost exclusively on campaigning for this cause, and learning as I went. I am fortunate that I have my fantastic business partner, Vanessa, who ensured that our clients’ needs were met while I was focused elsewhere. I am also grateful for my amazing husband, Jeffrey, who took care of our home, our farm, and ME whilst I was doing this crazy thing.
Kickstarter is like running a marathon. There is always more to do, more to learn, and there is no stopping until the final moment. In that moment, either the goal is reached or it isn’t. Kickstarter is all or nothing, so if the goal isn’t met, there is no reward for all the hard work. When stakes are that large, taking time for recovery just didn’t make sense to me.
I pushed HARD. For six straight weeks I campaigned night and day. I sacrificed exercise, sleep, eating well, and I put a lot of other projects on the back-burner. Who has time for recovery? Finally, this past Thursday, the day before the end of the campaign, I slipped a rib.
The perils of Twitter
There were hundreds of last minute contacts to make, mostly on social media. The task in front of me was to reach out to as many of them as possible by direct message to see if they would be willing to share our posts and check out our campaign before it was too late. I pushed.
You know how they talk about the importance of maintaining proper posture when using a computer? We have probably all heard at this point that “sitting is the new smoking.” They also say that we’re supposed to get up AT LEAST once an hour and move around a bit.
Well, they’re right.
I now know first hand, Twitter can be hazardous to one’s health. I didn’t have to do anything heroic to injure myself this time. There was no grand feat of strength or agility that earned me this new, painful experience. I was simply sitting in one position, working on the computer for a ridiculous amount of time. Pushing, pushing, and pushing. When it was time to get up, I got up in pain. That was all it took. There was no pop, crack, or grand moment of injury. It was simply the realization that I was injured, as it now hurt to stand, sit, lay down, move, or even breathe. Well, crud.
I didn’t let it stop me.
Perhaps I have a high threshold for pain, or perhaps I just wanted to finish this project more than I wanted anything else. I pushed through that final day, including a 4-hour live “Ask Me Anything” webinar with our own Seth David of Between Wall and Main. The final hours were the most critical, and minutes before the timer ran out, we reached our goal.
In the end, I sacrificed my bodily well-being for this project, and that is not a choice that I encourage others to make lightly. Now I have some catch up to do. I have all of the projects that have been on the back-burner while the Kickstarter was going on, but the foremost priority is recognizing the deficits of care I have been inflicting on my corporeal vessel. Everything else will need to take a back seat to the needs of my body for a while. Recovery is the top priority.
Recovery #1 – Sleep
Generally I like to get 6-8 solid hours of sleep each night. When I don’t get that for long periods, I need catch up sleep. This past weekend I could barely get out of bed. It is a bit of a shame that I was in pain and could not enjoy it more. It would have been glorious.
Recovery #2 – Nutrition
I am pretty fortunate in that I have this amazing husband who really enjoys cooking healthy food. Nonetheless, when I’m pushing hard, I tend to grab the fast fuel that will perk me up and keep me going through just about anything. For me, that’s chocolate. For others it is often coffee. I learned years ago that coffee does not agree with my system, and I’ve learned to avoid it. Under most circumstances I try to listen when my body tells me that I need to stop, rather than dosing myself on caffeine and sugar to push through. Alas, that has been totally ignored for the last six weeks, and I can feel it. I am excited to re-focus on healthy foods.
Recovery #3 – Movement
I used to be addicted to my workout. I loved going to the gym almost every day with my close friend, Jenn. Lives change, and our habits change as a result. Jenn now has twins, and Audible is my new workout partner. Audible doesn’t hold me accountable like Jenn did, despite the fact that I now have an elliptical trainer in my home. (Thanks, Mom!) I’ve been struggling to get back into a regular exercise regimen. Now it is particularly important. It’s much harder to convince myself to exercise when I’m hurting, and it is essential to healing this injury. I am certain that the reason my rib was able to dislocate was simply because I had lost the core body strength to properly hold it in position. Elliptical is great, and some core-strengthening yoga will also be on the menu.
Recovery #4 – Family
I learned a long time ago that when Jeff tells me he misses me, that means I’ve been working too much. I trust him to be one of my early indicators for burnout. This time, I pushed through it, and he pushed with me. He was with me on the east coast tour for the show. As the voice of our main character, Penny the Practical Professional, he was with me for every video shoot. He helped with the equipment, some social media, and most of all he was a huge support for me, even when he didn’t know how to help. Through all of that, we still missed each other. We missed going for hikes. He planted our garden totally on his own. We haven’t played music together in months, much less performed. The time has come to re-introduce some balance into our routines.
Having It All
People often ask me, “How do you do it all? That’s a good question. The only way that we can grow beyond our limits is by finding them and pushing. I think it’s safe to say that I have grown a lot in the last 6 weeks. I managed to find my limits over and over, and I continued to push past what was really healthy. I’m taking life by the horns. Now that I know I can, it has changed my view of what is possible. Now that I have these learning experiences, my hope is that I can encounter the next opportunities and deal with them smarter, not harder.
For now, having it all and doing it all also means taking care of myself. I will be working hard over the next couple of months on limiting my commitments so that I can ensure that I am able to bring my full self to the game in a healthy way.