There are times when, as much as we love our business or our work, that we feel like the wind has gone out of our sails.
It might be caused by a specific incident, or it could be the result of general feelings of fatigue and stress. Whatever it is, the journey feels like a slog.
(Time-out: If reading this feels like a slog, scroll down for the audio version!)
I’ve experienced this at various times during the past seven years, and it’s never fun. It doesn’t cause me to second-guess my path, but it does force the question of what I’m doing—or rather, not doing—to take care of myself.
Last night, I made a simple but profound connection: one of the reasons I love my business name is that it describes both me and the people I serve. And it might seem obvious to say, but in The Introvert Entrepreneur, “Introvert” comes first.
I am an introvert before I’m an entrepreneur. Being an introvert came before entrepreneurship, and it will remain with me when, someday, I move on to a new adventure. Therefore, honoring that part of myself is paramount.
You might say, “Well, isn’t that obvious? Isn’t that what you’ve been talking about for the past five years?”
It is. And, sometimes I forget to practice what I preach!
Here’s what happened: During the last part of February, I had been in a mild funk. Then the fog started to lift, and I was beginning to get some energy back for work, life, everything. Last night, I was on Instagram and noticed there was a cool account called IntrovertSurvivalGuide. My first reaction was, “Cool! I should do something like that!” That feeling almost instantly shifted to being deflated, like I’d missed an opportunity or otherwise dropped the ball.
But then I stopped. Reflected. And decided, no, I had missed nothing.
Early on, when I defined my niche, I remember getting the message that everything—EVERYTHING—had to be rooted in that niche. It was sound advice, especially in the beginning when credibility was being established and the niche was being carved out.
Over time, though, I’ve challenged that message. While I’ve focused almost all of my messages on the introvert topic, I’ve given myself space to explore things that intrigue me, whether or not they have an introvert connection. And looking at that Instagram account reminded me why: I need a place to just be ME, even if others choose to use that place for business purposes. I need a place to post my dog/cat/flower/random pictures. I want to be able to post, share, and like without thinking about how it aligns with my business strategy. It’s healthy to have an outlet where there are no expectations, no agenda… where the only objective is seeing and being seen.
Just as important, I need a place to express myself where I have NO concerns about how many likes, shares, or comments I receive. Stats don’t matter; all that matters is whether or not spending time there brings me joy.
In short, I need places to be a true introvert, not an introvert entrepreneur.
So do you.
Not everything has to be about your business. Choose those places or platforms where showing up as an entrepreneur is the best use of your time and energy. And just as intentionally, choose those places where you want to show up without your professional status being front and center. Give yourself permission to let go of trying to insert your business everywhere.
For instance, I generally don’t post business-related topics on my personal Facebook Page. I like to have a clear boundary (unless there’s something awesome to share or celebrate). My Pinterest account is 85% personal, with two boards that have anything to do with my business. Instagram is almost 100% personal.
Those are all online, but this idea goes for your off-line life, too. Just because you’re a leader and have certain savvy, you don’t have to offer it up or constantly play a particular role. Allow yourself to be a participant, to be a natural introvert! To observe, listen, come and go, speak when you have something to say, but otherwise be present and alert.
It’s important to have those oases, away from your business, where you can turn off the “entrepreneur” and turn on the “introvert.” It’s like you’re opening up the windows and letting fresh air flow in.
The truth is, by nature, you’ll always be looking through an entrepreneur lens. But if you want to stay energized and minimize the funky low spots, you’ll make sure you’re looking through your healthy introvert lens first.