Hindsight is funny, and memory isn’t always reliable (just look at data from eyewitness testimonies).

But one thing I know for sure is that when I think from today’s vantage point of 13 years as a business owner back to years one through five, I can say decidedly that I was living in a state of constant adrenaline fatigue and stress.

But I didn’t realize it. 

I thought it was par for the course, and the only business owners I knew at the time were full-blown champions of that way of life, prostrating at the altar of the “sleep when you’re dead” culture.

I hit a major wall after two embezzlements, a whale client left (and with them 70 percent of our revenue — lesson learned), and one day I looked up and realized that all of the reasons I got into this were nowhere in sight.

At the top of that list of reasons were freedom and flexibility. And while I didn’t expect it all overnight, I also didn’t want to work more than a full-time job with no end in sight, neglecting my health, relationships, and everything I said I valued, ultimately to make less money than in my previous job.

So what did I do? I began to run micro experiments to test hypotheses about what would be possible for me and my business if I started to release my stress and grip. While I wouldn’t have made a single scientist proud, my experiment did yield quick findings: Nothing fell apart when I loosened my grip, stepped away more often, or didn’t call a client back immediately.

In fact, the opposite happened. As I began to revive and thrive, so did my business. And I began to learn how inextricably linked the two truly are.

I also picked up tools that helped me stay grounded through the natural ebbs and flows of life and business. The tool that made the biggest impact was finding a meditation style that clicked for me. When I did, I became able to somehow be both in my body and outside of it at the same time, able to get a real-time perspective on my reactions and decision making.

My adrenals are still thanking me.