When it comes to business, many of us make decisions using an intellectual approach- looking at calendars, bank accounts and deadlines. When we need to create cash flow, monitor expenses, and manage risk, data drives our decisions.
So what happens when our decision doesn’t feel right? When in spite of the data we know we should be doing X, not Y, or turning left and not right?
Gut instinct is a sense of knowing what we need to do in spite of the visible information we have to the contrary. Paying attention to body signals and our inner voice happens when we leave ourselves time and space to hear and feel, and when we operate from a place of non-stress and equanimity. What I have learned is that when I come into a rhythm of self care, my nervous system is able to relax and I can both look at data AND listen my inner voice. With this comes better decisions.
How Self Care Makes a Difference
My self care includes both traditional ways that people nourish themselves- an essential oil foot massage before bed or a swim after work- and non traditional ways of looking after me – like meeting myself every morning so I can get clear on what matters most and how I will make it happen each day. My morning meeting keeps the rest of my self care on track. My daily routines- from the world of Ayurveda- keep me grounded, calm and clear. They connect me to how I want to feel every day, and what can happen when I am not taking care of myself.
So here is what I have learned. When I am rested and nourished I am more discerning. I can look at challenges from all angles, and be creative rather than pre-patterned in how I respond. I can listen more effectively which makes me a better leader and entrepreneur. Most importantly, I am able to hear my own inner voice as it attempts to guide me in my decision- making.
I recently made a challenging business decision. Knowing it would impact my income, my momentum, and the clients who had committed to my program, I decided to delay the next launch of my 12 week self-care coaching group.
On paper everything lined up- every coaching session and meet-up fit nicely into my calendar, and my clients were on board. I had mapped out the year and the time I needed to interview new clients, prepare content and run my sessions. From a technical perspective the program looked doable. But something just didn’t feel right.
In the past, many of my choices were driven by passion, inspiration and even a desire to create cash flow. Not wanting to disappoint others or myself, I would push forward with projects and plans that were both exciting and challenging. I have learned, however, that I when I operate from a place of strong drive and a pushing approach I put myself at risk for burnout. Having a regular self care practice has created space for myself that allows me to hear my inner voice more clearly. I would have ignored this in the past and pushed forward to the point of burnout. Self care has made my decision making far more sustainable for the long term.
Timing is Everything
When I paused and began to listen to myself I realized although my program plans looked good on paper, I knew I was not going to be honouring my own needs or the needs of my clients if I moved ahead with the program.
One of my challenges would be the sheer volume of personal and professional projects I had committed to, including being out of the country twice to teach and lead a retreat, and moving into a new home. On another layer my self care practices helped me remember that I am an an introvert, and that I need time daily to replenish and nourish myself. And finally, at the heart of it, my self care practice has taught me that there is more to showing up and delivering a program than having content and a website and pressing go. To deliver a strong program I need to be in integrity which means that I need to be practicing my own self care. I need to be rested, nourished, and moving my body daily. When I take care of myself I can show up clear and focussed, I can listen better, and my clients reap much bigger benefits from the program I deliver. Good for me and for them.
Self care- the pause that allows me to listen more effectively. By saying no to launching my program and yes to committing to self care and executing my existing projects I can show up in integrity when I do launch my program next quarter. And that is a smart business decision.