Battling The Feeling of Loneliness
If I told you that I never experience loneliness as an entrepreneur, I’d be lying. Don’t get me wrong – I love my job! I also love the ability to work from home on my own schedule. It really is a wonderful thing, but not without it’s own set of challenges. As a photo editor, I get hardly any face-to-face time with people during the workday. The most “in-person” interaction I get is when I bring in a new client. At the beginning, we talk over a Skype call. After that, most of our communication is through emails or text messages. Being your own business owner can be an incredibly isolating job, and it can wear on you after a while.
Peak Wedding Season
It’s October, which means it’s the second peak wedding season of the year. During peak wedding seasons, you can bet that I work a lot of late nights and weekends. Right now, we’re about halfway through, which is about that time that the season starts to wear on me both physically and mentally. I feel overly tired and want to sleep a lot more than I usually do. When I start getting fatigued from working so much, I start to feel discouraged about my work. Then, I begin to question what I’m doing.
Even though I know it’s all because of this crazy season of constant hustle, I still can’t help but feel stuck. Everyday feels the same: I wake up, work on social media for a while, edit all day, make dinner, watch a little TV, go to bed, repeat. Day in and day out – it’s just the same thing with very little interaction with other people.
When you work a corporate job, it’s a relief when you get to come home after a long, busy day at work. Your scenery changes and everyday is a little bit different than the day before. You don’t feel stuck because you aren’t in the same place all day long week after week. Even if you aren’t best friends, you still get to socialize face-to-face with co-workers during work hours. It’s incredibly different from the life of a small business owner, and one of the reasons I think so many people give up on their business within the first year.
So here’s my question to you:
Three years in, and I can tell you that these feelings of loneliness come back time and time again. I’m honestly not sure if it’s possible to completely eradicate them while working full-time for yourself. So what can you do about it? How can you prevent such strong feelings of loneliness as a small business owner? Fortunately, I have learned a few tricks that help combat these feelings during my three years of running my business.
1. Join or Create a Mastermind Group
Up until a few months ago, I had no idea what a mastermind group was. Luckily, I was invited to be a part of one and it has made a huge impact on my life! These groups are comprised of a few creative entrepreneurs (I recommend 4-6 people) who can act as a support group for you. You meet at least once a month for about an hour or so and talk about your businesses: your struggles, your fears, your victories — everything! You can bounce ideas off of these professionals, and they’ll give you suggestions that you may not have considered. The best part: they completely understand what you’re going through! They’re business owners, too, so they will probably know solutions to any problems you’re having.
I’m currently in two mastermind groups. One is comprised of other photo editors, and one is comprised of wedding professionals who all in different industries. I find that each group is helpful in different ways, so if you join one or start one, you just have to decide which option will work best for what you need!
2. Schedule Time for Yourself
I cannot stress this point enough. During busy season, office hours may be pushed around because you need to get work done. I totally get it – I do this myself! But make sure you are still making time for yourself during your peak season! You will go absolutely crazy if you’re working 8 hour days, 7 days a week for 2 straight months. That is just too much for one person to handle!
Overworking yourself not only leads to stress on your physical and mental health, but it also leads to missed opportunities to spend time with family and friends – which is something we desperately need! Clients will understand that you need to take care of yourself if you are struggling. Don’t be afraid to ask if a catalog can be delayed if you really need some time to rest. They care about you and they will work with you!!
3. Make Sure You’re Eating Healthy Food
Working a lot can have a toll on your body. We work long hours during this time of year, and most days it’s easy to just grab a quick meal that may not always be the best for you. In the past, I’ve turned to Ramen. It’s done in 3 minutes! It’s hard to beat that…but if you constantly put bad food into your body, you’ll definitely feel the effects. Studies have shown that food impacts your mood and behavior. It’s also what gives your body energy, so if you are eating the wrong things, you’re only feeding that fatigue from overworking yourself. If you find that you struggle to make good meals during this season, do some meal-prep! Take an hour or two one evening and meal-prep your meals for a week. Then when you’re in the middle of editing, you can just grab one, reheat, and go!
4. Get Out of the House
Take some time for yourself, and get out of the house! Go for a drive and see where you end up! Walk around at a store or at the mall. You don’t have to buy anything (if you try this strategy, I recommend you do not go to Target or Michaels :D)! Just get out of the house and be around other people. Strike up a conversation with a total stranger, if you’re bold enough (I *wish* I had this skill…). Just make sure you’re changing your scenery when you need to, and that you’re feeling like you’re a part of the outside world.
Three years in, and I still definitely do not have it all figured out. Like you, I wish that this season of burnout and loneliness did not exist, but unfortunately it’s just the nature of the industry. I wish I could tell you that I have all of the answers, and that there was a way to prevent all of these feelings. All I can tell you is that you just have to find a way to push through it. Follow the steps I mentioned above, and make sure you are putting yourself first. You can’t serve your clients well if you aren’t taking care of yourself!
Emily, I just love this post and agree with the points you have made here. I found lately that I need to take better care of myself and i have started to eat better and exercise. You have encouraged me to go shopping this weekend and prep foods so that I will have food ready during the busy time! Cheers!
This was exactly what I needed to read right now! It’s so great to read that I’m not the only one that feels like this – my only company is usually my 2 year old – which brings it’s own challenges! Haha! Will definitely try a few of your tips – but I really can’t be trusted to not buy anything walking around the mall! Haha! 🙂
Your post is so comforting and helpful to us small business owners! I completely agree with your points made on how to take care of
youtself in this situation. Thank you for sharing 💕
There is just so much honest truth in this post. It’s so amazing and freeing to work from home and run your own business, but certainly the loneliness is the hardest struggle, especially for an extrovert who gets their energy from being around other people. I love working from my favorite coffee shops in town, just to be around like-minded people. Thanks so much for your transparency!
Yes! I had to change a lot of how I worked last year. The small changes such as you e mentioned have helped me tremendously this year. I made small goals and rewards to look forward to when I accomplished a particularly busy work month. So happy you found not one but two groups to bounce ideas and just relate with!
I love this post and that you are so willing to talk about loneliness. I struggle with this a ton myself, especially during busy seasons. Thank you for reminding me that it’s ok in the midst of all the work to take time for myself.
I haven’t experienced full time yet! but oh boy is this TRUE!!
The struggle is Real for sure!
Thank you so much for writing this! I am definitely feeling overworked and I’m questioning everything I’m creating. I’ve really found that leaving the house (even if it’s just to go to a coffee shop) has really helped me keep my sanity.
This! There’s so much truth in this post! I’m pretty introverted by nature, so didn’t think loneliness would be such a huge issue in running my business. But these are all fantastic tips! Especially number 4 – sanity saver, for sure! I’ve started working in local coffee shops for a little extra socialization, and it’s made a huge impact on my sanity! 🙂
I am so glad I read this, I really needed to hear all of this! Knowing I’m not alone in feeling the business owner loneliness is just a relief in itself, thank you for taking the time to give tips from your own personal life. I’ll definitely be implanting more of these! Do you have any tips on joining a mastermind group?
This post totally hit home! I’m in a couple mastermind groups as well and they’re the best things ever. It’s like having coworkers that you can chat with and bounce ideas off of even though you’re working at home, alone lol. Eating healthy and getting outside is so important too!
Such wonderful tips! I know I do my best when I am meeting with like-minded creative professionals on a semi-regular basis and getting out of the house. So good to know I’m not the only lonely entrepreneur.
Great tips! There’s so much to balance. The tip about eating well is super vital!
MASTERMIND!!!!! Seriously.. best thing ever! Total Game changer
Wow! This spoke to me on such a deeply personal level. It is comforting to know others are out there feeling the same stress and loneliness that comes from being a solopreneur. I loved the suggestion to join a mastermind group! I had not heard of this before and it seems like an amazing opportunity for those in similar fields to support each other!
Thank you for speaking truth into working from home and feeling loneliness from time to time. I know introverts, in particular, have a tougher time getting out and about when they are overwhelmed and busy. Great tips for all!
I’m on the fence with this one, because I completely understand your feeling, but as in introvert, I prefer the solitude that working from home gives me. I do find though that I get down if things around me are out of line.
Agree with your points! Being a small business owner I struggle with making sure I take the time to step outside the house because I am so engrossed in building my business and brand!