Three weeks ago, I broke up with my boyfriend of 5 years.
We got together in our third year of university and remained a team throughout moving to the big city, then back to my hometown, jobs won, jobs lost, family emergencies, personal health issues, and even me starting my own business.
Breaking up had been a long time coming, but it took an incredible amount of courage to do. I can safely say it was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make. Truthfully, I was scared shitless, but I knew it had to happen and it had to be now.
It sucked — big time — but I’m not going to go into the details.
I know that personal issues are never easy for anyone, but I feel like I had a whole added layer of stress as a business owner.
I’m sure you can relate, — whether it’s been a breakup, loss of a loved one, accident, chronic illness, or bout of depression, I’m sure you’ve been through something where you think “this would be a helluva lot easier if I didn’t have to run my business right now!”
Guess what? You can do just that.
If brick and mortar businesses shut down for emergencies, why can’t we shut down our online businesses when our brains need some downtime from drama? 💁🏻♀️
Here’s what I did to make sure I could handle my business while going through this personal shitshow:
To preface: I know circumstances are different for everyone, and I am in NO way saying this as ‘one size fits all’ advice, but I do want to share my own experience of running my business throughout this breakup with you.
BE MINDFUL OF HOW YOU FEEL
Take the time to digest what you’re feeling fully. Do you need time to think? Do you feel rage, guilt, confusion? Are you scared?
It’s important to understand your feelings and when, or when not, to act on them.
As well as being mindful, let yourself feel what you feel. If you want to get angry, get angry. If you need to be still, be still. If you want to cry Raising Arizona style, go for it. Just don’t bottle it up.
In my experience (as the ‘breaker-upper’), I felt overwhelmed with guilt and uncertainty in the first few days. I knew I couldn’t ‘hustle through the pain’ and, heck, I sure as hell didn’t want to do that.
I knew that taking time off work was something I needed to screw my head on straight and feel myself again.
SET EXPECTATIONS WITH YOUR CLIENTS + CUSTOMERS
Communicate with your paying clients or customers and make sure they know you’re going to be taking some time to yourself. If you’re someone who likes to ‘work through the pain’, hats off to you but make sure you’re looking after yourself too.
The day after ‘the breakup’, I messaged all my clients and told them what happened. I let them know I was going to be taking time off to rest and get my head screwed on straight.
I feel so lucky because everyone was incredibly supportive (I have the BEST clients 😍) and they all told me to go and take time off to rest. Some even pushed my deadlines back a month, which took a whole weight off my shoulders!
SIMPLIFY YOUR WORKLOAD
Take a look at what you’ve got on your plate and strip it back to the bare bone essentials. Simplify everything, do what needs to be done and work up from there.
I’d spent time at the beginning of the month creating a whole plan for Quarter 1, which was now rendered pretty unusable. Now, I’m going back through it and taking out fluffy jobs (such as creating a blog post every week) and replacing them with lower-energy tasks that will help me more in the long-term (like repurposing content or updating older blog posts).
I’ve also looked at client work that I don’t enjoy or don’t need to stay afloat and made some cuts where necessary. It’s scary but, at times like these, I feel like I need to be selective about where I’m spending my energy.
If you want to learn more about tracking your energy levels and productivity that actually works for YOU — with no ‘eat the frog’ B.S. — you should look at joining me in the Work Brighter Clubhouse* (a.k.a. the friendliest, most supportive, and genuinely helpful membership I’m a part of).
SELF-CARE LIKE CRAY CRAY
As online entrepreneurs, we have the power to self-care hard, and I urge you to tap into that power. Your business can only grow as far as you grow as a person and you can’t fill from an empty cup!
If you’re going through a tough time, shut the laptop down (unless The Sims, is your self-care jam), turn notifications off, and do whatever makes you happy.
Need some ideas?
✅ Go for a walk in nature — breathe deeply and enjoy time outside
✅ Get lost in THAT book on your nightstand that’s been sat unread and gathering dust for months — we ALL have one of those
✅ Create a ‘good mood’ playlist and have a dance party — this is legitimately a new daily ritual for me
✅ Pick up the telephone and have a long catch-up with an old friend — make sure you snuggle up under a blanket at the same time!
✅ Watch a film or TV show that brings you joy — I’ve seen Girl’s Trip about three times, binge-watched You, and Gilmore Girls is next up on my list
I’ve taken a LOT of time to myself in the past few weeks and I don’t regret a single second of it. I don’t think I would have been able to cope with working at the pace I usually do AND heal after the breakup.
If I need to prioritise one, I’d say ‘healing’ won out.
SURROUND YOURSELF WITH SUPPORT
As most breakup advice columns would say — business owner or not — ‘don’t lock yourself away’ and I can’t stress this point enough!
Don’t shy away from the world — get out there and let yourself be held up and empowered by your support network.
I’ve been overwhelmed with the support I’ve received from my friends, family, and business besties! I’ve had lots of phone calls, cards, and even flowers from my wonderful assistant.
Of course, there’s no short-cut, ‘heal your heart’ scheme for getting through a breakup whilst running a business. Everything is individual and what worked for me may not work — or even be an option — for someone else.
I’d love to hear about your past experiences and if you have any advice that differs from my own in the comments.
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