Think about this statement for a minute. Take as long as you need to come to the realization that this is truly f*cked up.
I think this is an “illness” that comes part and parcel with being an entrepreneur. Maybe it also has something to do with our North American, work-obsessed, money-hungry mentality.
It’s no secret that…
- We thrive on work.
- We push ourselves to (unhealthy) limits.
- We think that the only way to succeed – to really “make it” – is to burn out.
- We feel guilty when we’re not working!
Being Employed is Different from Running Your Own Show
Entrepreneurs have it a little different from those who are employed. In most positions of employment, people have a set schedule they’re committed to – 9 to 5, 8 to 4, shift work… Whatever that schedule is, employees have the opportunity, and the ability, to disengage. To unplug. To decompress.
But as entrepreneurs we literally live and breathe our work. Even when we’re not working, we’re working. Particularly those of us who work from home may find it difficult to separate work from personal life. Because it’s all connected and intertwined. Our office is just steps away from where we cook meals, watch movies and go to sleep at night. Part of us associates everything we do at work with everything we do at home.
Why I Feel Guilty When I’m Not Working
I think there are a few reasons for this.
- No one’s given me a mat leave. Although this doesn’t mean I don’t deserve one, it certainly feels as though I’m not entitled. I chose my self-employed, entrepreneurial career path and with that comes an obligation to work even when most people don’t have to.
- My mind is always coming up with new ideas. Whether I’m breastfeeding, about to go to sleep at night, pedalling on the bike at the gym or waking from a midday slumber, I’m constantly thinking, brainstorming and planning. About how I can grow my businesses. About how I can generate more income. About how I can better serve my clients. It doesn’t end. So how can I expect to feel at peace when I’m not doing something to put my ideas into motion?
- I’m committed to my business. I want my business to succeed. The thought of being thrown back into the corporate world scares the living bejesus out of me! And the only way for me to ensure that my business can and will continue to thrive is to work at it.
- I always want to progress forward. I think the hardest part about partially letting go of the businesses I’ve worked so hard to build is that it feels like a step back. Before my little guy came along, every year I earned more than the year before. Business was thriving and companies were growing. Now, my pay cut feels like a stab in the back.
Why It’s Bullsh*t
The reasons for my guilt sound pretty sensible don’t they? While I could spend hours justifying this, and making a damn good case for myself, my reasoning fails to take one very important concept into account: the profound significance of raising a child.
Getting pregnant, giving birth to a healthy baby and growing a family is incredible. It’s priceless. It’s a gift. It’s so special that there are no words to describe it. (Only fellow mothers will truly understand.) It dawned on me recently, as I thoroughly enjoyed a play session with my little prince, that this – my motherly work – trumps all else.
And you know what? It pays better in the long run.
How to Nip Your Pesky (and Unwarranted) Guilt in the Butt!
- Your guilt stems from a lifelong habit. Like any other, it takes time to break.
- You feel guilty because you’re motivated, hardworking and dedicated. This is a good thing.
- Give yourself time to refocus and readjust.
- You have your whole life to work.
- Your baby will only be a baby once.
- Soon, your child won’t need you as much – and you’ll hate it and miss the days when they did.
- The mom job has legacy.
- Not working – or working less – is only temporary if that’s what you want.
- When you’re old, it won’t be the times when you were working that you’ll treasure the most.
- Remember that being a good mom is the most important job in the world. So don’t slack!