MGU 277 | Entrepreneurs’ Mental Health

 

Is being your own boss worth the stress? Entrepreneurs often have to put up with longer work hours, and sometimes unbelievable levels of stress. Is the mental health challenge of being an entrepreneur worth it? In this episode, Whitney Lauritsen and Jason Wrobel discuss mental stability, freelance work, and how this can affect your life. They talk about money stress, financial security, and why you need to set aside some time for yourself. A great episode that freelance workers definitely need to listen to!

Sponsored by Embody Me. To receive a free 7-day trial and 20% off your first month, use the code “Wellevatr” at https://embodyme.live

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Is Being Your Own Boss Worth The Stress?

Mental Health Challenges For Entrepreneurs

One of the things that I don’t know if I would call it teasing, Whitney, but you’ve pointed out with appreciation rather than teasing is I have things called Jason-isms. You always point out when I share quotes or passages from books I’ve memorized and you’ve labeled them here on the show. Isn’t that what you call them, Jason-isms? I don’t know what you call them.

I don’t think I gave them a label but go on.

We’ll call them Jason-isms. One thing that I was reflecting on as I was having my smoothie bowl, I was not crying in my smoothie bowl as I did with an episode we have with a guest, Beth Cavenaugh. When you hear about crying in a smoothie bowl reference, you’ll learn more in that episode. Over my smoothie bowl, I was remembering a quote that I had read years ago. I don’t know who this quote is attributed to. I may be paraphrasing it, but I recall the quote was, “Entrepreneurs are the only people willing to work 80 hours a week, so they don’t have to work 40 hours a week for someone else.”

Did you know that 72% of entrepreneurs are directly or indirectly affected by mental health issues compared to 48% of non-entrepreneurs? Click To Tweet

I remember at the beginning of my entrepreneurial journey when I left my last office job in the late summer of 2010. It was a typical 40-hour a week job, clocking into an office in Hollywood. I was working for an esoteric healing modality called The Reconnection. Recalling that quote, I was thinking back about my life where I have not taken any days off. I’ve been working seven days a week. I thought back on that quote, and thought “There’s a lot of truth to that.”

It also brings me back to something you and I have talked a lot about on this show. We talk a lot about hustle culture. We talk a lot about burnout. We talk a lot about the dismantling of ultra-capitalist culture that people are waking up to the fact it’s grinding them into the ground. Entrepreneurship is this. It’s in this funny space for me, Whitney, that I chose it. I’m curious why you chose to leave your last office gig and branch in entrepreneurship, but for me, it was the idea that I was going to have more freedom. The idea that I was going to feel more liberated. The idea that being my own boss was going to feel more fulfilling.

Yes, I have felt those things at times, but in some ways, if I reflect back on the last few years, in many cases, I feel more burnt out running multiple businesses than I did working an office job. It doesn’t mean that I want to go back to an office job. I’m not saying that, but with self-care, managing stress, making time, and being intentional about taking care of me has been more challenging running my businesses. I’m curious if you feel the same way. When you reflect on your journey, I’m curious to see how you feel about that reflection looking back on the last few years.

Before we hear your reflections, this episode is inspired by a blog post that I was reading. At the same time, I was thinking of that quote and my own entrepreneurial journey. It’s our sponsor of this episode which is EmbodyMe.live. They have this wonderful blog, dozens and dozens of action-oriented valuable tips. The blog post that was posted was from Amber Fortier, who’s also been a great guest, the Founder of EmbodyMe.live and it’s called Valuable Self-Care Tips for Entrepreneurs.

When I’m scrolling through this blog post going, “I haven’t taken a day off in over a month and I feel like a piece of old tempura in the back of the fridge.” Scary enough, I probably have pieces of old tempura in the back of my fridge because I am notorious, as Whitney knows and teases me about that I forget shit in the back of my fridge and then come to it months later, which is true, I don’t deny it. I’m feeling like a piece of crispy, old tempura in the back of the fridge. I was perusing this blog post and shaking my head going, “I’m not doing that.” One thing that jumped out at me, apropos of us talking about the challenges of self-care and entrepreneurship, right at the beginning, Amber put this statistic that I had never read.

She wrote in this blog post from the National Institutes of Mental Health, “Did you know that 72% of entrepreneurs are directly or indirectly affected by mental health issues, compared to 48% of non-entrepreneurs? This statistic highlights the importance of not losing sight of ourselves. We’re the ones that are going to have to lift the business up that we’ve created, but to do so, we need to have mental stability, be confident and have the necessary tools to make correct decisions. How we feel impacts directly on our actions, so don’t let your tired mind take care of situations and prioritize self-care.”

It hit me. I’m glad that Amber wrote this article. We love EmbodyMe.live. We’ll talk more about what they offer because they’re a wonderful sponsor. Whitney and I’ve been enjoying their platform, in addition to the awesome classes that they offer, which we’ll talk more about, their blog is full of great tips. We’re going to dive a little bit deeper into the self-care tips if you are an entrepreneur, but I found too, Whit, that these tips are not for entrepreneurs. You could apply these to anybody.

Entrepreneurs are the only people willing to work 80 hours a week, so they don't have to work 40 hours a week for someone else. Click To Tweet

Going back to that mental health statistic, it is interesting to think about if I look at my mental health challenges, it’s not that I didn’t have mental health challenges prior to running my own business and becoming an entrepreneur. If I’m honest about it in the over a decade, that shit, that dial has been turned way up. I don’t know if that’s a correlation, like running a business exacerbated those mental health issues. I don’t have the data to support that statement, but I’ll be damned if the over the last decades have not been chaos and havoc from a mental health perspective.

One of the points is that I have not made enough time for self-care. With that said, Whit, as you look at your personal challenges, which you’ve been vulnerable about here on the show, do you feel like some of those challenges have been magnified or exacerbated in the years that you’ve been an entrepreneur? I’m curious how you feel about that.

Overall, I would say no, because I did not thrive in an office job. I also tend to not thrive when I can’t have a flexible schedule. The way that I have shaped my life and made money over the years since I went fully independent, for context, for those that don’t know, I quit my last full-time job in 2010. I then worked part-time for a few more years at a retail store and then left that in 2012. I then spent a few months in 2012, getting my footing and thinking about this, and then got determined in 2013 to work for myself, do freelance, and being an independent contractor, and all of that.

At the time, it was exciting. Also, so much has changed. This is an important element to discuss here that there are so many factors when it comes to working for yourself. There is no one-size-fits-all, this-will-work-for-everybody scenario. I used to believe that more, but over time, I’ve recognized that things like privilege, education, experience, and connections, there are so many factors that go into whether or not you can thrive in whatever that means for you as an entrepreneur.

I feel passionate about saying that because too many times, over the years, I’ve heard people say, “If I can do it, you can do it.” I used to say that stuff, too. Now, I try not to. I’m not conscious of myself saying that. If I do say it, I’m probably having some knee-jerk reaction or old phrasing, but truly, that is not a good phrase to pass around, especially the more I learn about my own privilege and about other people’s experiences.

In fact, that reminds me, I got a message from somebody who I’ve been in touch with through my online work for many years. She reached out. She’s part of my Beyond Measure group. For those that don’t know about that, I have a private membership group that I’ve been working on. It’s centered around mental well-being. It’s a beautiful place where people get incredibly vulnerable and connect deeper with me and each other.

This one woman who’s a part of it hasn’t been active lately, which is okay. People come in and out of activity. She reached out and said, “I want to check and see if it’s okay if I reactivate and start being more active. I feel ready for it because of things that are going on in my life, but I also wanted to ask you if you had any advice for making money because I’ve tried a bunch of things, and they don’t feel like they’re working.”

For the first time in a while, I found myself hesitating. I felt myself feeling confused about what to say because, in the past, I used to teach a lot of monetization. I have this whole list and all these different things that you can do, but I noticed over the years while teaching that a lot of it does not work for other people. A lot of it doesn’t even work for me.

Part of the mental health challenges that people face, it’s tough when you try something that people claim works, and it doesn’t work for you. That’s part of where the mental health challenges come with entrepreneurship because, unlike working for a direct boss, a true employer, you don’t have anyone guiding you through and guaranteeing you money. The financial side of entrepreneurship is tricky. I’m deeply fascinated by this.

I’m fascinated by other people’s experiences. I’ve had a lot of conversations and observed it a lot from different angles. In some ways, more people are struggling with entrepreneurship than they’re willing to admit because it’s scary to admit if you are not performing as well as you want to be, as you feel like you should be. It’s vulnerable to acknowledge it out loud because maybe you feel shame in admitting it. Maybe your perception of success is different than others. Maybe your perception of failure is different. It’s not something a lot of people feel comfortable with.

There are so many factors when it comes to working for yourself. So there is no one size fits all. Click To Tweet

Making money is one of the most uncomfortable conversations because there’s a lot of shame in finances but knowing that it’s important to talk about it, because when we talk about it, maybe we can let other people know that we don’t have it all figured out. We don’t need to sit in comparison. It’s a fluctuation. That’s the other element, too, to answer your question, Jason.

I feel solid now, but I’ve been self-aware enough over the years to know that I go through waves, and there are periods where I’m low and a little worried about how I’m going to pay some bills. There are periods where I’m high. I feel confident and I’m not as concerned about paying bills, and my bank account is good. I’m in one of those high phases. My confidence feels higher because I don’t have the anxiety that I often carry of, “How am I going to pay the bill? Where’s the next money coming from?”

I also would like to mention that another element of this is your mental health around money and success is often deeply rooted and separate from your circumstances. I remember distinctly of going to a bodyworker. I was getting cranial-sacral done. My therapist, the practitioner, was saying, “What’s going on with you? How are you feeling?” as a therapeutic element of that bodywork. I don’t remember exactly what I said, but I was talking about money. He asked me, “Has there ever been a time where you didn’t have enough?”

At that moment, I was still working full-time, either that or I recently quit, but I wasn’t in a bad financial situation. I remember that for sure. I said to him, “I don’t think I’ve ever been in a place where I haven’t been able to figure out how to pay for something.” It was fascinating when he asked me that question because I recognized my fear was not my fear. That time was not about the current circumstances. It was some old, lingering fear.

MGU 277 | Entrepreneurs’ Mental Health

Entrepreneurs’ Mental Health: We need to have the mental stability, confidence and the necessary tools to make correct decisions. So don’t let your tired mind take care of situations. Prioritize self-care.

 

Even though in August 2021, which is ten years after that experience I mentioned, I have carried around that anxiety and that fear, regardless of my circumstances. Even now, when I feel confident and secure in my finances, I still experience anxiety of “better not get too comfortable or don’t loosen up too much. You got to keep working. You got to keep ‘hustling’ even though I try not to hustle.”

I feel like I need to constantly be productive or active or doing something, and I don’t usually have time to relax. I am building that into my life a lot more. I am moving things around to have more downtime, especially at night. It feels uncomfortable to do that because of my old thoughts, my old way of thinking these old fears, but at the same time, it’s encouraging because I start to wonder what life will be like if I can allow myself to relax more.

To your point, Jason, one of the biggest issues is entrepreneurs tend to work around the clock. For a while, I, and I’m sure many others, felt proud of that. We’ve talked about the word busy and how we’ve used it as a badge of honor like, “I don’t even have time. I’m so busy.” I used to be one of those people. I now tried to avoid even saying the word busy because it’s not a badge of honor. To me, a badge of honor is when I can do whatever the heck I want and feel good about my day. That also is why I’ve decided, committed, and remained an entrepreneur, as a freelancer, and an independent contractor.

All these years, I have remained that, Jason, because I’ve known deep down that this is where I feel most happiness in my life. I’ve been able to make it work, but I will say and similar to what you’ll express too, Jason, is that it’s not easy. I don’t feel like I have it all figured out. I don’t always feel secure. I haven’t made all this wealth that people promise you to like, “Stick with it. After a few years, if you keep doing this, you’re going to have so much money.” I absolutely disagree. That has not been my experience. It’s incredibly dangerous to say, “If you do this, you’ll get that result,” because if you don’t get that result, you’ll feel a lot of shame. That’s not a mental health issue that I’m interested in carrying around with me.

One of the biggest challenges, Whitney, you were talking about this ever-present anxiety around enoughness and that this bodyworker you had mentioned asked, “Has there ever been a time you’ve never had enough?” It’s interesting because I’ve had similar conversations with friends and my mentor about it and this is much tied to privilege. It’s tied to fate or karma. There are many factors. We could discuss what I’m about to say.

I moved out at age twenty. In 24 years, have I ever not been able to pay my rent? No, I’ve always been able to pay my rent. If I think about that, Whitney, have I always had clothes on my back? Have I always had the ability to get medical care? Yes. Have I always been able to feed myself? Yes, even though, when I think back on the entrepreneurial journey, how many times I had to decide.

If you talk about the shame of people who are in business for themselves, admitting the struggle or being ashamed to admit the struggle, I think back on how many times I had to decide whether I was going to get gas or go to the grocery store. What’s more important? Do I need to buy food or do I need to fill the tank? I remember being at the gas station going, “I have $44 to my name. Am I going to fill up the tank or get food?” It’s tough.

Success is often very deeply rooted in and separate from your circumstances. Click To Tweet

To your point, I don’t think this is for the faint of heart and it’s interesting when we think about people telling us about their journey, “You can do this too,” and this rhetoric of, “I’m going to show you what’s possible because I’ve done it, even though we’ve had drastically different life paths. If I did it, you can do it too,” which I also take great umbrage with.

It’s also this mentality of, “If you do what you love, you never work a day in your life.” I’m like, “I’m going to call bullshit on that. Sorry.” Everybody I know who loves and excels at what they do, there are times that what they do pisses them off. There are times that what they do as a vocation frustrates them. If you’re in business for yourself, it’s common to experience massive highs and lows around our mental stability, our mental health, and money.

To give an example, over the course of this journey, I want to say this to highlight and you’ve been there at different trade shows and speaking appearances that I’ve had, Whitney. There have been times like I’ve made $40,000 in a month. It’s like, “Holy shit. I can’t believe this happened.” There’s almost this expectation and this pressure like, “I’ve got to keep it up because I hit this new high and all the other entrepreneurs and business leaders online are saying, ‘You’ve got to be consistent, implement systems and optimize. Implement and optimize.’”

Realizing that I don’t have the skill or the wisdom or the ability, who the hell knows why, but the idea that I ought to keep having $40,000 a month, or I’m a failure. Also, having months where I literally made $0 or $400 a month. To try and compartmentalize mentally, “How did I go from $40,000 a month to $400 month,” it wreaks havoc on you.

Self-care and these practices that we teased at the beginning, for me, when I ignore taking care of myself, I can feel like I go into dark, painful places if I do not care for myself. That being said, I do want to talk about these tips in this great blog post that we mentioned, written by our friend and previous guest, Amber Fortier. These are tips to take care of ourselves and improve our personal and professional lives. I want to go through this, Whitney, and briefly, touch on these, and comment on them.

The first thing that is recommended in this blog post is to create a routine. I love that this post talks about how each one of us is different and that we know better than anyone else what is best for ourselves, but a framework of an organization is something that can help us. We’re running the company, or we’re on the path to entrepreneurship. Maybe we’re not there yet.

We know that finding balance in our lives is pretty fundamental. Finding balance is not an easy thing for me. We talked in a previous episode about my concern. I may be a workaholic or have workaholic tendencies. Balance is a tough thing. She says in this blog post to create a timeline, where you write down all of the assignments for the day and try to estimate how many minutes you’ll need to complete each task, and not to overload this list. This exercise is about reducing our levels of stress, not the opposite. Making sure that what is written in our schedule feels motivating and feels exciting. We’ll feel emotionally engaged with it and that, in our agenda, there should be time for caring for our physical health and mental health, too.

I know you’re big on scheduling. One thing that I’m falling short on, that I need to admit, is I’m not scheduling in exercise. I’m not scheduling in rest on my calendar. I’m curious for you if you, and maybe you’ve told me this, but I’m curious where you’re at. With this scheduling and blocking your day, do you put in “This is the time I’m exercising? This is the time I’m resting. Mealtime?” Do you get that granular with it? I don’t, and maybe I need to. Maybe that would help.

I sometimes do, but that is something that I found does not work for a lot of people. I’ve advised a lot of entrepreneurs and coach them. I can tell you that the majority of people do not work that way. Certainly, it’s nice to keep this in mind, but as Amber says at the beginning, “Are you a to-do list person or does that overwhelm you?”

The fact that you’re different is the first thing that you should ask yourself, and creating a timeline will work if you are a to-do list person. It’s great for me. I always got things on my schedule. I’ve got a to-do list that I look at most days. I have times that I work in. I found them helpful for me, but I met people like you, Jason, who don’t seem to thrive in that sense. Is that true?

It’s tough because I know that I need structure to have compartments of activity. I believe that life abhors a vacuum. If we have space in our lives, life will find a way to fill that space in our lives. It happens. I’ve got all this free time. How many times have you felt this? When I say you, Whitney, or the reader where you’re like, “I’ve got this block of time.” What are you going to do with it? I don’t know. I found that when I say, “I don’t know,” and I don’t fill that space intentionally, something else is going to fill it. The dogs are barfing. The fucking car breaks down. Life will fill the space. Life is not like vacuums.

MGU 277 | Entrepreneurs’ Mental Health

Entrepreneurs’ Mental Health: Unlike working for a boss, you don’t really have anyone guiding you through and guaranteeing you money.

 

The long answer to your question is, I resist structure and I resist to-do lists, but I know I need some semblance of structure, compartmentalization, and intention to accomplish anything because if I leave things to my own devices solely, randomness and chaos seem to rain. It doesn’t mean we can inoculate or allay chaos. Chaos is part of the matrix. I’m still trying to find the balance, Whit, of what is “enough structure” for me, but not too much where I feel overwhelmed and then rebel against it. I’m still figuring it out.

Fair enough. This is the thing. I fluctuate a lot, and most people do. I go through periods of time where I cannot look at a to-do list. It is too overwhelming. I’m trying to think of what triggers that. I don’t fully know because I haven’t been in that mindset for a while. My to-do list has been incredibly helpful. There are times, though, where my to-do list deeply overwhelms me. I have to be aware of that. I then have to modify it.

My practice is, I look at it each day through the lens of flexibility unless I have a specific deadline. I’ve started trying all sorts of different things. I try not to have too much on my to-do list on one day, or I try to space it out and make sure I have gaps for breaks. I look at my calendar, and I make sure that my calendar reflects the breaks that I need, especially for scheduling. It’s this ongoing balancing act. It’s not like you set it up and then you’re good to go. It’s going to shift a lot based on what’s going on with your life, your personality, what you have on your plate, and all these other factors. It’s important to take advice like this with a grain of salt.

I love though the next tip, which ties into this, and that’s about enjoying time with oneself. Amber says that it’s important that you dedicate minutes in the day to be on your own and to reserve a spot in your agenda for me-time a 100%. In fact, on my calendar, I also called it me-time. I have the period of time blocked off on my calendar. It’s dinner and me-time. I used to have lunch and dinner on there simply because I didn’t want people booking through our show calendar or my coaching calendar, whatever else I’m for during my lunch break, because I was like, “If they do, then similar to you, Jason, I will forget to eat.” I don’t know why I took it off.

The lunchtime didn’t feel as important to me or it might have been because of our show schedule. For whatever reason, I took lunch off temporarily. I kept dinner on because that is important me-time. I also know that mentally and energetically, I don’t thrive with work between the hours of 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM most days. It’s shifted a little bit since my sleep schedule shifted, but typically, I usually get tired after 5:00 PM or 6:00 PM.

That’s a great time for me to relax, to hang out on my bed or a couch or watch something on TikTok or TV, have dinner, and zone out. I had to come to terms with the fact that I need 3 to 4 hours of zone-out time in that block. Usually, between 5:00 PM to 9:00 PM, I don’t work well. Instead of trying to fight and force myself to work during that time, I blocked it off on my calendar and called it me-time like Amber recommends. Have you tried that, Jason?

No, I haven’t. When you said 3 to 4 hours of me-time, my head tilted back. My initial reaction was like, “I don’t know how the hell I could even do that in my day.” I feel like I have so much that is asking for my attention that 3 to 4 hours a day. Maybe because I have that reaction, it’s something that would be good for me to be more intentional about putting something on my calendar that says, “Me-time.”

If you're in business for yourself, it’s common to experience massive highs and lows. Click To Tweet

I found something that gets in the way of this. It’s a fear and a scarcity. It’s mostly fear. I don’t know if I want to label it scarcity. It’s this feeling of when I perceive I have gaps of time in my day. I need to fill it with doing things because it’s the fear if I don’t get it done today, it will be waiting there for me tomorrow. I know tomorrow will have its own set of challenges that are unique to that day, and then, the thing I left for today will be piled on top with a whole bunch of other bullshit.

Maybe the reason I don’t do this, Whitney, is that I’m in a habitual cycle of “There are 30 minutes. There’s that thing. I should tread that paperwork. I should do those dishes. I should do that thing outside.” It’s almost like I’m in this pattern of I’m afraid if I don’t get it done now, it will fucking pile up, and then the next few days are going to feel even more hellish.

I don’t know what to do to shift that. It’s interesting to talk about because I feel like I’ve been caught in that for God knows how many years. It’s a fear of shit piling up. It’s a fear of overwhelm. If I grind a little bit harder now, then I won’t feel as overwhelmed tomorrow, or the next day, or next week. The funny thing is, even when I do that, it’s not like this shit gets any shorter.

Whitney loves online to-do lists. I don’t like them. I prefer handwritten because it’s the satisfaction of crossing things off. It’s not like that gets shorter. It’s weird. I get things done. I feel productive, but this doesn’t. I don’t know that it positively affects my overwhelm is what I’m trying to say. It’s almost the fallacy of thinking it will reduce my overwhelm, but I don’t know that it does. It’s weird.

This is what I mean, though, because it’s a fluctuating process. This is a good time. The huge benefit to doing things digitally, especially if you work online, you’re using digital technology in some way or another, but that doesn’t mean you don’t use a paper to-do list or calendar as Jason does. Some people thrive mentally that way.

For me, though, I like reminders. I like updates. I like the sounds that a digital to-do list makes. I like color-coding. I like all of these more advanced features that are helpful for me. This is a good time to mention when it comes to me-time, especially for any entrepreneur reading, yourself included, Jason, is that you need to block off that time.

If you have an open booking calendar, as we do, people will book during the time that you want to reserve for yourself. That’s why going into your digital calendar, whether it’s Google Calendar, Outlook, iCal on the Mac, whatever it is. Also, for any booking programs, we use Calendly, for example. I use a number of digital tools where people can schedule time with you. Every time someone wants to book time with me, I double-check my calendar to make sure that I have blocked off time for myself.

One technique I have that works well with Google Calendar and iCalendar, for sure, which is the two I use, you can create an all-day event and mark it as busy availability so that nobody can book you on that day. You can mark other events as busy or free. Sometimes I have things on my calendar where it’s like a day where I want to spend doing things, but technically, I’m free for meetings if they need to happen. I can put that on my calendar, but mark it as free. If you go into your calendar, each one might have the nuances. Check that out.

Similarly, if I have something like an all-day event, my calendar will default all-day events as available. They use it as a reminder that I’m doing things all day, but technically, someone could still book me. I now manually go in and book myself as busy if that’s what I want. That’ll block off the entire day. When I have too many things on my calendar but still have gaps of availability, I will book myself an all-day event so that it blocks off the day. I still have gaps, but nobody can book in those gaps because I’ve marked it as busy if that makes sense.

That system has worked well for me because I know that energetically, I get drained from meetings. I get drained from podcasting. I get drained from coaching. I get drained from anything that involves a lot of speaking and mental brainpower. I kept myself at usually two speaking things a day, whether it’s podcasting, coaching, a speaking appearance, whatever. Two of them max because I will not thrive if I do more.

MGU 277 | Entrepreneurs’ Mental Health

Entrepreneurs’ Mental Health: You need to block off that time because if you have an open booking calendar, people will book during the time that you actually want to reserve for yourself.

 

To your point, Jason, that has a ripple effect on the next day because, depending on the person but if you’re similar to me, I will be so drained that I’ll feel it the next day. That’s also why I block off the me-time at night because I need the recharge time at night to sleep well and be ready to tackle the next day that I have. These are the things that I’ve learned about myself over time and experience. If you do not tune in and raise your awareness, you may not know these things about yourself in order to customize them properly. That’s why you have to keep tuning in.

This also blends nicely into the next tip in the blog post, which is learning to say no. What I’m describing here is much about boundaries. Part of the way I say no is blocking off my calendar. I’ve had some clients who go to my booking calendar, like one, for example, who I’m not working with who used to get frustrated that my availability changed.

When we first started working together, I was available on the weekends, and then the show schedule changed and my personal schedule changed. I decided that I wasn’t going to take any client calls on the weekend. He was irritated about it. He was in a different time zone. He was irritated that I wasn’t available at certain times and I was like, “These are my boundaries. I have to say no to you.” We worked together for a while. It was fine, but we’re not working together for no bad reason or anything. It’s the flow of clients, sometimes.

Part of me is like a relief not to have a client that is trying to push my boundaries. This is the other important element depending on your entrepreneurship, exactly what that means for you. You may have some people in your life that want to push your boundaries. You have to truly learn how to say no and set them for yourself. Be clear so that you don’t waver unless it’s truly necessary. Every once in a while, exceptions make sense, but this boundary element is key to my personal mental health. I know it is for you too, Jason. I’m curious, how are you setting boundaries? Where is it hard for you to say no in your life if it is?

That challenge for me, Whit, is when I start to feel like my fear and my future projections of bad things that might happen, the future projection fear overrides my desire to take care of myself. This is something I still work on. In the past, I don’t know that I had as deep, necessarily, of people-pleasing tendencies as you. You’ve talked brilliantly and in-depth about your journey through identifying and shedding your people-pleasing tendencies.

Life abhors a vacuum and if we have space in our lives, life will find a way to fill that space in our lives. Click To Tweet

For me, if there is anything under that umbrella of people-pleasing and boundaries, it was the fear of, if I say no, they’re not going to work with me again. If I say no, I’ll lose this money. If I say no, I’ll lose this contract. When you’re in business for yourself, and you have a lot of overhead, your living expenses are high, and you don’t have a safety net, per se, you don’t have a guaranteed paycheck. It’s tempting to say yes to everything.

In the beginning, Whitney and I experienced, for a lot of years, you and I were saying yes to every fucking thing that would come through. We’ll say yes to your online summit. We’ll say yes to your brand launch. We’ll say yes to your book party. We’ll say yes to your movie screening. There was a time when you and I were going out to these things. I don’t know about every day of the week. That’s a bit of a hyperbole, but we were going to these things a lot.

I look back on those years. Were we burnt out or were we moving? We were doing so much shit. When I think about those years ago, I’m like, “How did we not collapse? We were going to everything.” My point is, that’s a difficult thing to shed as an entrepreneur because you think, “I need this connection. If I meet this person, they’ll connect me to so and so,” which is a bit icky because it’s transactional, but it happens. Human beings do that. “I need to meet X because they’ll connect me to someone, or if I meet this person, there’ll be a great client,” or the FOMO. It’s this whole thing of, “I need to be doing everything, be everywhere at once, be making every connection, going to this mixer, and going to this.” It can be maddening. It’s all too common.

I’m getting better at separating my fear of lack and my fear of missing out on a contract, money, connections, etc., and saying, “I’m exhausted.” Even if I’m exhausted, and this jeopardizes this person’s perception of me, if I don’t take care of myself, things will be negatively affected. I’m better now than I was years ago, but I still have the fear of losing something by saying no to it.

If someone doesn’t want to work with me because I’m taking care of myself, then fuck it. Maybe you’re not the client for me. Maybe you’re not someone I want to work with if I’m expected to grind myself into the dirt to make this thing happen. I’m getting better at it is the long answer to your question, but I still get hung up sometimes on that old fear of losing something. It doesn’t mean it’s going to happen. It’s the fear of the possibility of losing something.

Another thing I don’t recall if I mentioned on the show. I had someone come around to me who had sponsored me in the past with my work on Eco-Vegan Gal and Whitney Lauritsen and the things I do separately. I was excited to work with them. I love the brand. I knew that they would compensate me well. They respected me. They valued me greatly, but when it came down to closing the deal, I had a massive mental block.

In hindsight, I have zero regrets about not moving forward. I confessed, for lack of a better word, or disclosed perhaps, to this person that I was challenged with my creativity because of some mental health things that were going on for me. I’m still in that phase where it feels like I’ve had a creative block, but I sometimes wonder if that was my body’s or my brain’s way of saying, “No, you can’t take on any more. It’s too much mental bandwidth. It’s too much energy. You don’t have the bandwidth for that right now.” It was tough.

I still feel a bit guilty in a weird way because, and even embarrassed in a way, I was like, “It sucks. I want to be that strong person. This is easy. Why can’t I do this? I should be able to do this.” Maybe this person’s not going to understand, and maybe they’re going to think less of me, and they’re not going to think I’m professional, but I don’t know that person thought that of me at all. In fact, they said nothing or did nothing to convey that they felt that. That was my old inner voice of this hustle of like, “You can’t stop. You got to grind, and you got to make the money. You can’t disappoint anyone. You have to say yes to things.” I truly had to set a boundary.

I used that opportunity to reflect. Jason, you’re on a similar boat, but I know that I have the current privilege of being approached by many companies literally every single day. I’ll get some email or direct message. What I’ve noticed, Jason is that the more content I create, the more opportunities come from it, which sounds great. I posted the first video I’ve made in months because I was into doing TikTok earlier in 2021. I stopped because I got so burnt out. I made 40 or something TikTok videos. I was in a TikTok program. It was great. I loved it. I was in this momentum. I was like, “This is awesome.”

MGU 277 | Entrepreneurs’ Mental Health

Entrepreneurs’ Mental Health: When you don’t have a guaranteed paycheck, it’s very tempting to say yes to everything.

 

The ripple effect of that, so many brands have reached out to me because TikTok is the hot thing. I was burned out. I could not create any more. I had to say no to these sponsorships. I posted a video that I made for a company that I do affiliate work for because I felt good about it. I felt for the first time in a while I wanted to do something. I was enjoying it. I didn’t feel pressured. It was bringing me joy.

I posted it and it was well-received on Instagram to the effect that all these brands started coming out of the woodwork. I was like, “Maybe this is why I’m having this creative work.” Sometimes, there’s a side effect to success. That when you reach a certain point, and you’ve noticed this, Jason, when you’re more well-known, more people want you and it’s even harder to say no, but it’s imperative that you do. That’s the downside to success that a lot of people don’t talk about.

Imagine, I do relatively have a small following compared to some of the big names out there. I cannot even fathom, Jason, how these people operate and the number of inquiries that they get from people constantly. The invites to events, the invites to participate in things, the product offers, and the sponsorships. That all sounds glamorous to someone who hasn’t done much of it before.

The truth is, it’s so much and you have to have a team, and you have to build these barriers. If you are mentally struggling with saying no, you got to be prepared that that’s going to be headed your way. The guilt that you can feel turning people down is tough to deal with or ignoring people. I was thinking about how many people in emails and messages I’ve ignored. There are so many because I don’t have the mental bandwidth to respond. I don’t have an assistant helping me. I would like to have an assistant again because having someone to answer my emails and direct messages would be such a weight off my shoulders. I’m carrying around all this guilt for being perceived as some jerk who doesn’t respond to emails, but the truth is, I don’t owe them that. That has helped me a lot.

There are a couple more elements to this blog post I want to mention. One is disconnecting from your work, which is something that we’ve mentioned. I feel like that fits into this me-time that you do need to set aside that time to disconnect. Another is taking care of your mind. That’s the overarching theme of this. That starts off by saying, “How many times have you prioritized your physical well-being over your mental one?” It’s normal, but our minds often are secondary because of what society has taught us. I love this about Embody Me.

This is the reason we’ve worked with Embody Me as a sponsor is because they emphasize the importance of mental well-being and enjoying the present moment. This is why I’m taking time off to do some traveling to go to national parks. In late August of 2021, I’m gearing up to start a road trip. I have felt anxiety because there are 3 or 4 days that I’m going to be in national parks with limited cell signals. I’ve been nervous about telling some of my clients about this.

Speaking of boundaries, I’m afraid that if I tell them that I’m taking time off for myself that they’re going to be disappointed, or they’re going to be frustrated, or that I’m going to have too much work to do when I come back. The reason I’m doing it and pushing through all that discomfort is that I want to enjoy the present moment. I want to disconnect from work. I need to do it.

You may have some people in your life that want to push your boundaries. So you have to truly learn how to say no. Click To Tweet

Sometimes we have to push ourselves to do uncomfortable things. That’s the theme of this show. It’s not always easy, but it’s a heck of a lot better than getting incredibly burnt out and feeling anxious and stressed, and all those other negative emotions that we’ve discussed. This is one of the best parts about Embody Me as a resource is that you are joining not to take their classes, and that’s what they offer as a virtual wellness studio. When you join a platform like this, you’re in a community that holds you accountable. You see that you’re not the only one struggling with this. You get to talk to other people about what’s working for them. You get to get the advice of wise teachers that has gone a long way.

For me, whenever I’m struggling, I want to know more entrepreneurs, and talking to other entrepreneurs helps me greatly. That is part of what Embody Me provides. They’ve given us two perks for you. One is that you can get a seven-day free trial. You go to their website, EmbodyMe.live. Two is that if you use our code, Wellevatr, you will get 20% off your first full month membership. You can dip your toes in with a free trial. If you like it as much as we think you’re going to, you can spend a whole month in there at a discounted rate. Their prices are amazing. You can pay per class. They’ve got all sorts of different options for you. It’s been wonderful going over this whole blog post and I’m curious if you would like to finish it out.

The one thing in the blog post I skipped over was exercise, which is where they mentioned the seven-day trial and the blog post because they offer yoga classes and Pilates style and a lot more physical elements of this. Another reason they’re great is that it’s for the body and the mind on Embody Me, but certainly, exercise is huge. I could talk a lot more about that, but I’ll pass the baton back to you. What do you like to say, Jason?

It’s funny to me that we’re ending on this because exercise is the most challenging part of my self-care routine. It’s challenging because I ended my physical therapy regimen for my motorcycle accident and if anyone’s wondering, I’m great. My shoulder feels awesome, but strangely, Whitney, when my physical therapy ended in July 2021, I was so mentally burnt from the challenge of eight months of physical therapy that I stopped moving my body completely. I was mentally burnt out.

For anyone who has ever done physical therapy, you know how physically exhausting it can be but doing the same routines every day for months and months, I was like, “I need a break.” The break has lasted 6, 7 weeks. I feel it’s time for me to start moving my body again. Truth be told, this is my Achilles’ heel. I’m trying not to beat myself up for it. I needed the mental break. In re-engaging this Whit, I am excited to dive back into yoga, Pilates, and moving my body.

It’s also something too, I don’t want to use this as an excuse, but I wonder how much this factors into it. I had mentioned that my yoga studio had closed. In our episode with Amber Fortier, the founder of Embody Me, at the beginning of that episode, I had mentioned to her that I was lamenting and feeling sad that my yoga studio, Jivamukti LA, had closed and I miss that community. I miss that accountability. I missed the affordability of the classes there.

Embody Me has come at a time in my life where I’m grieving the loss of my yoga studio but also excited that this platform exists. Amber, knowing her heart and her spirit and how supportive she is, has classes like planning your week with intention, which is apropos of this entrepreneurial journey. That’s a great class. It’s not just yoga, Pilates, movement, meditation. She also has classes about practical strategies for structuring your life so that you can thrive and not burn yourself out.

We want you to check out EmbodyMe.live. We love it. You will love it, too. We’ve got that code, Wellevatr, for you to save 20% off your first month and get the seven-day trial. Whitney, I’ve got to start moving my body. I know it’s one of those things. How do I even describe it? It’s almost like a little person. Do you know how in cartoons and movies, there’s always the traditional angel and devil on your shoulder? I feel like I’m at the point where there’s a little version of me on my shoulder being like, “It’s been awesome that you’ve taken seven weeks, and we’re totally into it but you’re starting to feel creaky.”

MGU 277 | Entrepreneurs’ Mental Health

Entrepreneurs’ Mental Health: How many times have you prioritized your physical well-being over your mental? Our minds often are secondary because of what society has taught us.

 

That’s the best way, Whitney, as I start to feel like, “I’m getting out of bed and I am feeling like, I don’t know.” I love that you were ending on exercise because I know that when I’m moving my body consistently, I feel mentally better. I know that. I’m saying this to give my own self-loving little kick in the ass to get on the yoga mat, grab my kettlebells, do some Pilates and get my ass moving again. I’m going to leave it at that. I got to get my ass in motion. With that being said, if you have your own version of that. We want you to go to EmbodyMe.live. Check out the blog posts. Check out the classes. Enjoy your free seven days. Maybe there’s something that speaks to you as exercise is currently speaking to me.

We’ve got awesome free resources. Our private podcast is called This Hits The Spot, which you can access as a newsletter subscriber of Wellevatr. We send out newsletters every Friday afternoon like clockwork. You get free access to the podcast if you’re a Patreon member, a patron of ours. We have some amazing people supporting us. You will get links to all of the products we mentioned in our private podcast and also unlisted videos. You get private videos, so it pays to be a member because you get some cool perks to that. We’ll link to our Patreon account. If you want to support us, it starts as low as $2 a month. We’re bringing you a lot of value. We’re bringing you a lot of fun stuff.

Sometimes we have to push ourselves to do uncomfortable things. It's not always easy, but it's better than getting incredibly burnt out. Click To Tweet

With that being said, thank you for tuning in. Thank you for reading. Thank you for supporting energetically, financially, spiritually, however you’re supporting this show. We appreciate you getting uncomfortable with us as always. You can always shoot us a direct email, [email protected]. Whitney and I love hearing from you. Until next time, we appreciate you. We love you and we’ll be back with another episode soon!

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