The women who were local came to visit and spend time with me — an important personal touch. Postpartum life is often lonely, as is the road of entrepreneurship, and having this personal contact with professional undertones was critical. On our weekly calls, they walked me through prioritizing and staying focused. They also reminded me to be kind to myself and give myself space for healing.
I used to think that “doing it all” was a great asset, but I now realize that it is actually a liability. It takes wits, courage and smarts to ask for help — the right kinds of it. Learning to prioritize is important, and I made a point to adjust my expectations based on my priorities and communicate any changes to my clients and employees. But I made sure to keep this communication strategic: I didn’t give drama-laden play-by-play descriptions of my health issues to my clients. When they made a request I knew would take a few days to make onto my “just-one-thing list,” I simply replied with the truth: “You are a priority, and I value our relationship. I am working a limited number of hours this week, and I expect this to be completed by this date. If you are absolutely pressed to get it sooner, please let me know and I will be sure to accommodate you.”
Even today, two years later, I still have chronic urticaria, which means I have hives of unknown origins for no discernible reason. Thankfully, they’re not anything like they were in the beginning, but they still flare up during periods of high stress. I’ve learned there are very few things in life that are as important as my health.
When you become so sick, it’s only natural that it shines a light on your mortality. After this experience, and the unfortunate sudden death of a mommy-preneur I know, the “what ifs” in life seem much more pronounced. To protect myself for the future unknowns, I’ve been working on some back-up plans. I created a binder of must-know information about my business for my family, which includes the agreements I have with my clients, key vendor contacts, affiliate relationships I have and important account numbers. I’m also exploring purchasing a “key man” insurance policy, which provides coverage to a business, much like a life-insurance policy. The policy is awarded to a business and is used to pay off company debts, hire replacement personnel and provide capital to keep the business running during an unexpected transition.
But in the end, the most valuable lesson I learned wasn’t about running my business; it was about how I want to run my life. Before, I was focused on achievement in a way that wasn’t healthy for me or my family. Intensity isn’t always efficient, especially if it burns you out, wears you down and affects your health and relationships. It was a hard lesson learned, but it’s been a great gift.