Since starting Young&BosSHE in November 2016, it’s been hard to remember what the phrase “day off” means. A day off from regular work means that I plan to spend about 2 hours on Young&BosSHE–and 2 hours can easily turn into 3 or 4 or 8 without me even noticing. Sometimes I’ll plan to stop working at 5:00pm to make a great dinner and read before bed, and the next thing I know it’s 10:30pm and I haven’t eaten or moved from my desk in hours.
This isn’t to say I don’t love working on Young&BosSHE. I really do enjoy working on new web features or recruiting writers. I like the puzzle of figuring out how to make enough money to cover our podcast, or hire a graphic designer to make what we’re doing really pop. I adore reading about leadership, privilege and patriarchy so that I can be a better ally and leader for Young&BosSHE and the people around me. More than anything, I live for the spark of connection that happens when I tell a new person about Young&BosSHE and how she can get involved. That tiny sparkle in someone’s eye when they hear about us for the first time makes all of the hard parts worth it.
If I’m not careful, though, that sparkle comes at a cost. I skip social outings. I don’t go outside. I don’t drink enough (non-bubbly) water. I convince myself that leading Young&BosSHE takes precedence over spending the day reading one of the books piled on my nightstand. I’m my harshest critic, comparing the hours I’ve spent working to how much time other people I know put into their side businesses. I see other’s ad campaigns or new web features and get frustrated–if I just spent a few more hours at my desk I would have the time I needed to create the perfect splash page or update our media kit.
It’s so easy to get sucked into the idea of a side-hustle and buy into the thought that you should be busy 24/7. Society tells us that exhaustion and burn-out are not just the norm for leaders, but the preference, and that if you’re a business owner you aren’t successful unless you’re making money in your sleep. The truth is that most businesses don’t make it past the start-up stage, most people will never be making $23,000 a minute like Bill Gates, and the more unhealthy you let yourself become in the pursuit of entrepreneurial perfection, the more you put your business or organization at risk for future failure.
So what can help you be the bossiest, babe-iest Boss Babe possible? I’m no expert, but these five things have helped me keep my sanity through the wild, amazing ride.
1) Make time to move. – Last year I started doing aerial yoga, and it’s been a life-changer. Not only am I crazy-confident about my body in a way I never thought possible, I replaced my boring cardio routine–25 minutes on the elliptical 3x per week because I couldn’t stand to do any longer–with a routine that leaves me centered, energized, and ready to #werk. Most days I spend 8 hours hunched at my office desk and then I move straight to my couch when I get home, so making this commitment to strap into a sports bra, leave my house, and join a group of four to six other women for an hour of aerial keeps both my body and brain in shape. Aerial yoga isn’t the answer for everyone, obviously–it’s just what works for me. We all have unique fitness needs and ability levels, and a financial commitment to exercise is a big deal. At the very very least, set an alarm to stretch your back and arms every half hour, drink some water, and put some care and energy into the body that’s brought you so far into your journey.
2) Don’t be afraid to ask for help. – Every time I turn around, another woman/SHE/person offers to help with some part of creating and maintaining Young&BosSHE. I’d like to attribute that to my stunning charisma, but the truth is that everyone is an expert in something and 95% of people are happy to help you with whatever you’re working on. All you gotta do is ask. Not only will it make that person feel valued and invested in what you’re working on, it takes pressure off of you to know all, be all, and do all in your business.
3) Don’t let your passions slide. – If you’re a reader, make time to read. If you’re a dancer, make time to dance. If you’re a chef, host monthly dinner parties for your friends or start a Youtube channel that teaches people how to make super easy recipes (someone please do this for me!). Remember that you make your business, but your passions make you–if you let yourself burn out or travel too far from the glowing bean of radiance you are on the inside, your business will suffer, too. Unapologetically make time for what makes youÂ you.
4) Remember that things take time, you are just one person, and perfection is overrated. – If you own your own business or started your own organization, you know that nothing is ever “done”. Nothing is ever perfect. Learn to laugh about the little mistakes and don’t stress too much about what you can’t fix. Typo in an email that went out to 300 people? I’ve done that. Mix-up in product inventory that means orders ship two weeks later than expected? I’ve done that, too. There is zero shame in making mistakes–and it’s never as big a deal to anyone else as it is to you.
5) Get comfy with saying “no”. People are going to ask you to do more than you can–not on purpose, but because they don’t know your boundaries. But you do! (Almost) no opportunity that comes your way will be life or death, and people will appreciate your honesty when you say, “I can’t do that project right now, but let’s figure out a way to work it into next quarter” more than they will you rushing through a collaboration just to put it on your resume. Trust yourself, take a break when you need to, and know that your no isn’t the end of the world for you OR the other party.
Emily is a cat mom, feminist, avid reader, and co-creator of Young&BosSHE, an initiative to empower young professional SHEs to be self-champions in their leadership. She holds an M.Ed. in Organizational Leadership and Communication and has worked as librarian, fundraiser, gardener, and exotic fish caretaker. She has lived in Nashville, TN for seven years and is about to move to Cleveland, OH, to start her next chapter.