Do you ever have one of those moments where it feels like work is your whole life? As in: you haven’t attended any non blog related social events in months, you talk to more people on Instagram and in blog comment sections than you do in real life, and you have to tear the phone out of your own hands so you stop building your Pinterest boards at 1am? Today, while hanging out in my favorite blog & business Facebook groups, I saw someone post a question asking about how to stay awake longer at night to work on projects because six cups of coffee and 5 Hour Energy shots wasn’t cutting it anymore. My initial reaction was “oh my gosh, that girl has a problem”….then I immediately was like “wait, what time did I go to bed last night? 3am? What was I doing? Oh my gosh – I was writing newsletters and drinking Nespresso“. I am the crazy work obsessed person.
I tend to be an all or nothing type person, and since I love building my blog and brand and helping inspire young, driven entrepreneurs, I don’t usually notice when I haven’t done anything but blog, edit photos, work on book chapters, create workbooks, and engage on social media for a few weeks on end. I get in the zone and I love spending 14 hours a day glued to my computer. However, I can tell you from personal experience that this is not the case for my husband, friends, and family. To the people in my life, they see a workaholic who they never get to spend time with; my friends see the world’s worst responder to personal texts and calls, and my husband sees a wife that doesn’t have time for anything but work. It’s a little shocking to have someone you care about ask you why you’re willing to sacrifice your life for work.
Because to us, it doesn’t feel like sacrifice – it feels like inspiration.
However, every once and a while you should do a little audit of your life to see where you really are sacrificing, and if it’s aligned with why you started down this career path in the first place. Sure, I love working non-stop, but is it worth sacrificing quality time with my husband? No, absolutely not. Is it worth losing touch with real, quality friends? Probably not. But there are some things that are worth sacrificing for the sake of your career – so the tricky part is, how do you know what is worth sacrificing for success and what isn’t?
What’s Probably Worth Sacrificing for Success:
Being broke as a joke is an experience everyone should have at least once. It’s stressful as hell but weirdly liberating. I once lived in a 2 bedroom apartment in Los Angeles with FOUR other people pursuing creative careers just so we could all afford to be creatives in LA immediately post college. It was cramped and we were so poor that we canceled the gas and couldn’t use our stove or oven so instead we cooked on hot plates, but it’s a memory I have that brings a smile to my face and helps me appreciate the freedom, financial stability, and OMG – not living with four other people in 800 square feet – that I have now. As long as you can pay basic bills and afford to eat, money is definitely a temporary sacrifice worth making (you’ll make up for it later, trust me)
Sleep (But Only Occasionally)
When you’re a new entrepreneur, solopreneur, blogger, or starting out in a career, there might be some days when you’re surviving on very little sleep. In the beginning, odds are you’re going to be either working really long days (if you’re going the more traditional career route) or juggling a couple of jobs. Even now, I’d absolutely call my business a success and I’m financially quite comfortable, but I still have a regular freelance film production job I work that helps pad the bank account during slower months. When I first started out, I was a production assistant and bartender (at the sleaziest bar ever) to pay the bills plus auditioning for roles daily, planning out the branding and idea for this blog, networking, and driving up to North Hollywood to work as a host for free on a pop culture network. I would seriously work on commercials all day, spend a couple of hours auditioning or working on my blog ideas in the afternoon, then go bartend at a place where I legitimately had to have the local tattoo artist slash pimp (seriously, he was an actual pimp) escort me to my car after closing so the feuding biker gangs wouldn’t harass me. Needless to say, I didn’t sleep a lot. That obviously isn’t ideal, and sleep is HUGELY important, but sometimes it’s worth sacrificing a few hours of shut eye for a limited amount of time if it helps you get things off the ground. Just be realistic and make sure to set limits – a month of crazy hours to help you transition into a passionate career is one thing; it verges into the “not worth it” territory if it’s getting to the point that you feel rundown, unhealthy, and are losing your passion. Just pace yourself here.
Decorating your home in 100% pure Ikea and wearing last season’s Forever 21 is ONE THOUSAND PERCENT worth the sacrifice if it means you can allocate those funds to your business or passion. Stuff is just…stuff. Sure, you need basic necessities, but that’s it. Get a black blazer and one decent pair of jeans and you’re golden. Honestly? My house is STILL almost entirely furnished in the Ikea Trysil series (I happen to enjoy Scandinavian minimalism, ok?) and my closet is at least half Forever 21. I drive a freaking Volkswagen Jetta. I often cut and color my hair myself in my bathroom. Yes – I could afford to buy furniture that doesn’t come in a box I have to strap on top of said Jetta, I could go full fashion blogger with a closet full of Stone Cold Fox and For Love and Lemons, and I could probably buy the nice SUV I realistically need – but I’d much rather invest the money I make back into the business that I’m so passionate about. Hiring an assistant was a big leap for me financially, but how much better is a kickass, brilliant team member than a bunch of crap laying around my house or a fancy car? Stuff is stuff; invest your money in useful courses, good help, and business tools. If you have extra cash laying around, go on a trip and see the world – it’s the best thing you can do for your mental health, happiness, and inspiration. As much as I love shoes, stuff is just downright worth sacrificing for a successful and happy life.
Approval and Praise
Pursuing success in an out of the box way is bound to bring you a lot of criticism and opinions. Your parents might not dig your unorthodox (possibly college-free) approach. Your friends might talk about “real jobs” and they’re definitely not including your blog or Etsy shop in that conversation. You might get weird reactions when you sit down with a group of professionals and talk up your success as a digital influencer. This crappy backlash is worth every second of it! Just because people don’t get it doesn’t mean it’s not amazing. It would be easier to do things by the book and get the approval and praise, but that’s worth sacrificing to create your dream life, don’t you think?
What is NOT worth sacrificing:
People and Relationships
What fun is success if you have no one to share it with? Abandon all of your relationships, and you’ll have no one to drink a glass of champagne with when you have a big win to celebrate. Even more, you’ll have no one to support you when the going gets rough. While it make take putting in long hours and pouring yourself into to your passion to create your ideal life, it’s absolutely crucial that you carve out quality time to spend with your significant others, friends, and family. They’ll definitely understand if you need to hole up in your office and crank out 16 hour days during a launch or big project; just make sure you make the people in your life a priority the rest of the time. It’s all about balance.
Physical and Mental Health
The best thing you can do for your business is to take care of yourself. Yes, yes…I know I said sleep can be sacrificed, but only short term. When it comes to your day to day life in the long run, you need sleep. You need nutrition. You need to peel yourself away from your computer and move your body. You won’t be nearly as motivated to work hard if you feel like crap. Period.
Mental and emotional health is even more vital. Overwhelm is a big, big problem in the blogger /solopreneur/ entreprenuer world (and high pressure careers). Loading more and more and more on your plate might feel like it’s going to make you more successful at a faster rate, but it’s not: it’s just going to burn you out. I’ve noticed that a lot of blogger, including myself, also deal with a hefty bit of anxiety. When you’re an anxious person, the absolute worst thing you can do is overload yourself. Bottom line: sacrificing your mental and emotional wellbeing is never ever worth it (and it won’t help you be successful anyway).
What sacrifices have you made for your career? Was it worth it?