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!