Owning a business comes with a lot of guilt. I should be working right now. I’m not working hard enough. I should be working on that but I’d rather work on this. I shouldn’t spend money — who knows if things will be this good next month?
It’s totally natural. But — it’s also a waste of time and energy.
Sometimes you need to work through the weekend. Sometimes you need to take a random Wednesday afternoon off. It all balances out. You know what you need to keep going.
Random confession time: I felt so much guilt for the longest time over paying for mani/pedis. A pretty weird thing to feel guilt over, I know. You see, I spent years doing it myself. I loved doing it myself! But for some reason it wasn’t fun anymore when I started running my business full time. I loved the excuse to get out of the house. To sit in a chair, let someone else do my nails, and tune out the world around me.
But then I’d see my bank statement and feel guilt over the unnecessary expense. It’s not that the expense meant I couldn’t pay my rent or anything — it was just money I didn’t have to be spending. Money I could be putting towards my business, or saving for a rainy day (i.e. when the clients aren’t coming in).
After several months of guilt, I finally realized: it is money I put towards my business, though not directly. It’s money I put towards my mental health. It’s time that I can just relax and let my mind wander — which, after all, is when the best ideas come anyway! I return to work feeling refreshed and ready to focus on the task at hand. And, if I’m being honest, it’s a bit of a vanity thing as well. Maybe even a little bit of laziness. I could spend my free time doing my own nails, but the time I’d usually do them is when I really just feel like being totally lazy. So I’d let the paint chip, then I’d be annoyed all week typing at my computer and looking at chipped nails. In the end, the benefits far outweigh the minor expense. And that’s nothing to feel guilty about.
Now, I’m not saying you should spend money like crazy, or work all the time, or never work at all — there has to be balance. What I am saying is that as long as you do have balance in your life, there’s no reason to feel guilty. You can get a lot more done if you stop wasting time and energy on guilt.
Maybe your habit is a Starbucks one. Conventional wisdom tells you just how much you can save by cutting out that daily latte. I mean, let’s be honest, I could probably travel somewhere for as much as I spend in a year on mani/pedis.
But consider that maybe your guilty pleasure is exactly what you need in your life. And if the benefits far outweigh the cost? Then you can stop feeling guilty about it. Yes, I would love to travel more. But I also value the quality of my day-to-day life.
The same goes for the time you put into your business (or not!) and what you spend your time doing. Sometimes it does actually feel good to work through the weekend, to power through and get that project done. And then it will feel really good to take that random Wednesday afternoon off when everyone else is working. Sometimes I feel more productive at random times of the day — and I just go with it. It means I can get more work done in less time. And sometimes I have to spend a little time on a personal project even if I have a deadline looming. That time spent on personal work gets me excited and inspired again to get through the deadline.
I still struggle with guilt often, but I try to remind myself that I know what I need, and it will all work out in the end. It has before, and it will again.
P.S. This post was inspired by a little side project I’m working on, a collection of letters to creatives about business. What do you struggle with in your creative business? Tweet me @elembee_ and let me know!