I closed my online fitness business in June after three years of working hard to (unsuccessfully) build a personal training business. It was hard to let go, and I put a lot of thought into the pros and cons before I made my final decision. There’s one thing that tipped the scales in favour of closing my business.
I’d stopped looking after myself.
I honestly can’t remember if, at any point in the previous 12 months, I took a day off work. Now some people will high five me for hustling every damn day, but when hustling leads to burnout, you’re doing it wrong.
I was hustling in all the wrong places, and I’d forgotten to live my life.
After closing my business, I took a few days to sit in the sunshine with feet up and coffee in hand, and consider my future plans. I made a conscious effort to prioritise this ‘thinking time’ so I could work through the emotions of a failed business venture and ensure I didn’t repeat previous mistakes by diving in head first into something I didn’t understand.
If I had to identify the most important lesson I learned from previous business, it’s this:
A thriving business needs a healthy leader.
So, this time around I started by making a plan. But it’s probably not the kind of plan you’re thinking. There was no reference to the business name, social media, marketing, products, services, finances or staffing.
No… I started here.
1/ Write down your interests.
- Strength Training
2/ Set SMART lifestyle goals relating to your interests.
- Increase strength and fitness and reduce body fat by completing 3 strength training sessions and 3 rides per week.
- Create a meal plan each fortnight and prioritise cooking and eating healthy food.
- Read more by scheduling reading time each week.
- See at least 4 more West End musicals by the end of the year.
- Plan and book at least one holiday for the remainder of 2018.
3/ This is the most important step – schedule these things in your calendar.
Jon Goodman calls this your dream week, and despite no longer being an online trainer, it’s by far one of the greatest assets I gained from completing his Online Trainer Academy course. The concept is simple. Go to wherever you store your calendar (app, diary, calendar in the kitchen) and plan your perfect week. That means a week where you do all the things that are important to you – like exercise, reading and date night with your partner.
Then, transfer this dream week onto every week moving forward. Once you’ve set it in stone, do your best to live by it. Most importantly, every time someone asks you to schedule something other than what’s in your dream week, ask yourself if it’s really worth giving up the most important things in your life. If it’s not, politely decline the meeting or invitation.
Obviously, in my case, planning and booking a holiday isn’t a recurring appointment like exercise, for example, so it doesn’t necessarily fit within a dream week scenario. But it’s still important to add it to your calendar. Add time for planning, booking and even visiting a travel agent. If your travelling companions are busy too, invite them to meetings to plan your travel. If it’s important to you, add it to your calendar and make it happen.
4/ Then, and only then, do you start filling in the gaps with work.
You may have already added work-related tasks to your dream week because you enjoy them. But chances are, you’ve left a few things out. Now it’s time to schedule all the other stuff you don’t really want to do, but have to.
Lately, I’ve been simplifying my social media strategy (I’ll tell you about it in detail in another post). I’ve committed to checking my emails only once per day, and I’ve also removed all social media apps from my phone. I’ve grown to dislike social media as it’s such a time suck, but it’s necessary for my personal brand. So now, email and social media share an hour in my calendar at 4 pm.
That’s after I write, read, eat, exercise, have multiple cups of coffee and complete all the work tasks I had planned for the day. Then, and only then, do I allow myself to succumb to the distraction of social media. It’s taken a mindset shift and lots of willpower to break the habit of checking my phone as soon as I wake up, but having it in my calendar helps.
5/ Test, Review and Update as necessary
Your dream week is fluid. It has to change as priorities and tasks change. It’s also important to update your dream week when things aren’t working. This morning I updated my dream week because getting up at 6 am on Monday to cycle isn’t working for me. Unfortunately, I’ve developed a habit of sleeping in a little later and in practice, I’m going to need to slowly work on waking earlier.
The plan of checking emails and social media at 4 pm is relatively new too. I’ve been experimenting with intermittent fasting, eating between 1 pm and 9 pm. So, training at 4 pm has wreaked havoc on my eating. Luckily, I work for myself, so I can choose to train a little earlier, having a post workout meal around 4.30pm instead of 6 pm.
In practice, I reassess my dream week about once a month to ensure it’s still working effectively. If it’s not, I make amendments until I find something that does work.
Originally published at www.tarafitness.com.au