Secret Pleasure.... WEEKENDS!!!
Monday January 9, 2023
Weekends? I don't need no stinking weekends...
Did you notice I took a break from my ‘Inner workings’ posts over the weekend?
There’s a reason for that: a weekend.
I used to work 7 days a week. 12-15 hours per day. I think my record at my ‘part-time’ job was 73.5 hours in ONE WEEK. Weekends? Sure. Days that were supposed to be ‘off’? No problem, I’ll give them away.
And then I started my own business. And kept up a lot of hours at the part-time gig. Frankly, how I didn’t hit burnout sooner than I did is beyond mortal comprehension. My mindset was one of scarcity: I have to work every available minute of every available day. I must be earning money. If I’m not working, I should be.
If you’re an entrepreneur, I’m guessing you can relate.
When my mom passed, I took maybe 2 or 3 days off. Dad opted to move near us shortly after she passed, so I’d help him sort during the day and then work with students after he went to bed. When we traveled back across the country, we stopped at hotels so I could tutor every evening. I mean, I still had bills to pay, right? Bill collectors and landlords don’t really care that your mom died – they still want their money. And as entrepreneurs, often, if we don’t work, we don’t get paid. So…. we work!
To use a former mentor’s words, I wore my ‘work ethic’ as a badge of honor. Until I couldn’t anymore.
I started implementing ‘boundaries’ – isn’t that the latest and greatest buzz word? I started taking Fridays and Saturdays off. Except then I felt guilty for not working on Fridays. At least Saturdays are ‘normal’ weekend days, when everyone else is off, too. So, I’d still book occasional meetings on Fridays. Or the occasional student on a Saturday morning.
And my revenue increased.
SHOCK! AWE! SHOCK & AWE!!
Yes, it’s true…the more time I took for myself, the more money found its way into my bank account. The more AMAZING connections I made and fantastic introductions I received.
But I still wasn’t totally convinced. I was still working from as early as 8AM until as late as 10PM or 11PM. Yes, most Fridays & Saturdays were ‘off’ – but not 100% OFF.
And then I hit what I would call ‘emotional burnout.’ I was functioning, but my heart wasn’t in ANYTHING. Frankly, I was even questioning whether I wanted to continue investing blood, sweat, and tears into ParenT(w)een Connection. Couldn’t I just stay in test prep forever and be happy? I mean, revenue was up…but I felt alone, and I knew there was ‘something more’ that I was meant to do. Don’t get me wrong, test prep is valuable and effective. AND I knew that I was contributing to the systemic inequity that exists in America and beyond.
It took more than six months until I was finally able to re-engage. I’m grateful for the folks around me who gave me the space to take care of myself during that period. And I dug back in, feeling that I owed it to them to redouble my efforts. I more or less held the Friday/Saturday boundary and added Tuesdays to it – at least as far as tutoring was concerned. I discovered paddleboarding and learned to actually step away from technology – not just step away from clients & meetings.
And wouldn’t you know…business grew, which sucked me back in to crazy hours on the days that weren’t set off by boundaries. Still occasionally bending those boundaries.
Alas, apparently, I didn’t get the message the way I needed to. The next thing I knew, I was in what I can only refer to as ‘mental burnout’ – I’ve never experienced cognitive decline before. Mental fog? Nah, not me. Not finding words? NEVER! Forgetting EVERYTHING? MY WORST NIGHTMARE!
During one appointment with one of my health care providers, I literally asked, ‘Am I dealing with early onset Alzheimer’s or dementia, or something?’ She reassured me that she highly doubted that I was and gave me some resources to explore what was actually going on.
I’m still exploring exactly what set off the shift in mental space. A lot of the mental capacity has come back – reducing overwhelm that resulted from a crazy summer and fall has helped. But there are some things I’ve learned about myself and the way my brain works that I have finally realized just aren’t going to work the way other folks’ brains work. Pre-burnout, I adapted a lot and still mostly kept my head above water. Post-burnout, I realized just HOW immense of a task that was – how much brainpower it takes to keep things afloat.
I’m finally at a point that I realize my brain really DOES need ‘down time.’ And that doesn’t just mean non-client-facing time. It means time at the gym. It means meditation. It means a Friday off to explore the city with my husband. It means setting ‘soft’ deadlines instead of ‘hard’ deadlines. It means giving myself the space to just DO NOTHING. (Who the heck am I and what have I done with me????)
If you know what any of this is like, give yourself a hug, and give yourself some grace. You’re not a robot. Neither am I, much to my disappointment. LOL
And if you’re a professional who works with teens, tweens, and their families, and you value collaborating with others, asking for help, helping others when you can, and you’re looking for a network of folks like you, check out our Trusted Expert Network. We’re kind of like a BNI meets Angie’s List idea, expressly for folks who work with t(w)eens and families. The more we lift each other up – and the more we help each other stay out of burnout! – the more we can help kids and families. The value of the whole we can create to support them is greater than the sum of our individual parts.