I gave myself permission to only focus on me. I forgot about all the things that had to get done at work and adopted the daily mantra: “Do just one thing.” This allowed my inner A-Type to feel accomplished once I completed a single daily task (usually related to client care and maintaining existing relationships), and it gave me a huge priority filter. The one thing that got done for the day was the most important.
I checked emails from my bed on my iPad between episodes of trash TV. My employees knew how sick I was, but if something was really urgent, they could text me. There was a handful of times I had to hop on the phone with a client or professional colleague, things that couldn’t be put off. Putting on a “power face” for 15 minutes was manageable, though.
It became apparent that in order to save my business, it was critical to give myself permission not to grow it. I turned down referrals, sales pitches and work, knowing that I wouldn’t be able to maintain my existing client relationships and the caliber of work I like to provide if I took on new business too. I reminded myself often: You can’t be a do-it-all woman all the time.
I relied heavily on my team, my family, my friends and John, my soon-to-be husband. And when the woman I hired to help me in the office left without warning five weeks after I gave birth, it was obvious that I’d have to be even scrappier to survive. I called one of my friends, a baby whisperer, to come and babysit my infant in my home while I worked upstairs for a few hours each day, pausing to rest or nurse as needed.
I also leaned on a group of professional women I met prior to having my baby. I was invited to participate in a mastermind group with eight other women, and I said yes. (Our purpose was to create one radical goal for the year and work toward it with the group.) This was a real stretch for me. It was a large financial commitment — not something you normally take on right before having a baby, and it wasn’t something I’d ever done before. The very first call with the group was the day my hives showed up. In my pajamas, nursing in bed, I joined the call and, through bronchitis, squeaked out my story and shared my business goals. The suffering was worth it: Without this mastermind group to fall back on for the following year, I don’t know how I would have made it through.