Know when to continue your striving, when to start slowing down and when to come to a complete stop. Things I wish I knew before starting my own business and my thoughts on them now.
One thing I wish I knew when I quit my job to start my own media business: I’d be lonely. That’s right, working for yourself is incredibly isolating and no one really warns you about that side of running a one-man-show. It’s easy to glamorize the “full time content creator/WFH lifestyle” when you’re not actually living it.
Despite being surrounded by people all day on the internet and having hundreds of interactions across several different platforms every day; the amount of real, solid connection I actually get with people is slim to none.
I don’t think it’s talked about enough that caring for yourself as a solo business owner is a really important part of your overall business plan. This is especially true when you work in social media.
Reports are rampant on the internet about the toll that social media takes on your mental health. The constant comparison to someone else's highlight reel can do a number on the way you view yourself and your life. Just spending time on one account for an hour or two a day can have a negative impact on our wellbeing.
...now imagine doing that all day, every day, with several hours spent being absorbed in social media, just gawking at what everyone else has and focusing on what you don’t have. It’s really taxing.
I wish someone would have preached these self care tips to me when I started my business so I’m sharing them with you now-hoping to spare you a shred of the hardships I’ve faced since entering this industry.
Self Care Tip #1-Find Your People
You already know that working for yourself can make for a very lonely day-to-day life. Gone are the days of coworker comradery and getting to grieve your work woes with a set of people who are in the thick of it with you.
When you work for yourself, you have to find a new set of people who will understand what you’re going through and can help you keep your sanity. I hate to be the bearer of bad news but more than likely, the friends that you have now just aren’t going to get it. You can’t vent about how drained you are after filming content all day and writing a hundred captions because those still working a traditional job typically view that as being easy work or a “dream come true.” -You make TikToks all day?! Lucky! Not always.
There are tons of Slack groups, Discord channels, group chats and ways that solo business owners can connect and share the pressure of what this career path holds. If you still crave that in-person friendship, try frequenting a coffee shop or coworking space. Eventually you’ll start to notice the same people there every day-which means more than likely they’ll be working a similar job that puts them in an isolated headspace. Try reaching out. There’s also friend-finder apps specific to your local area, like Bumble BFF, so you can meet pals IRL and connect.
Self Care Tip #2-Disconnect from Your Phone
This tip is counterintuitive to the first step. You want to connect more and in order to do that…you have to disconnect first. Working for yourself can be demanding and it’s important to disconnect from time to time. This is especially true if you work for yourself online. Social media can be really damaging to our mental health if you’re in the habit of comparing yourself to other people's highlight reels.
It’s okay to unplug and take a social media break. Your pages will still be there, you probably won’t lose any followers, and all will be well. You don’t have to completely turn your phone off either. Just setting it to “Do Not Disturb” or turning off your notifications can be enough. By doing this, you can practice being connected and present to your real life-not just your online life. This opens you up to connect more with those around you and with yourself.
Fair warning though: It can feel uncomfy AF to disconnect when you’re used to being connected all the time. Have you ever heard of the “Phantom Ringing?” Phantom Ringing is that sensation that your phone has vibrated or made sound even though it hasn’t because we’re just so trained to focus on our phones these days. You may experience some anxious feelings while disconnecting but try to push through it. It’s worth it.
Self Care Tip #3-Celebrate Your Success
Don’t forget to celebrate your wins along the way. When you work for yourself and you reach a milestone or have a major win in your business, no one is probably going to be there to pat you on the back. You need to pat yourself on the back.
When you work a “normal” job, you may get “Employee of the Month”, gift cards to celebrate something you did or just a “Good job” from your boss. None of those things are going to happen anymore unless you do them for yourself now. It’s worth noting as a work-for-yourself perk; if you’re the only employee, you’ll be employee of the month every. Single. Month. That means you always have a reason to celebrate at least every 30 days.
The key takeaway here is that working for yourself, especially in the world of content creation and social media, can be isolating, mentally exhausting, and overwhelming. You need to remind yourself that your only human and no human was meant to run 10+ social media accounts. That’s just stimulation overload.
Slow down, take it easy on yourself, and find ways to adapt to this lifestyle. There’s always going to be someone else out there who is feeling similarly to you-find them and bond over it.