Why Enjoying Your Life Makes For Better Business Growth

What are you doing for yourself this holiday season?

When I ask that, I don’t mean “What are you doing for your business this holiday season?”

I definitely don’t mean “What business books and accounting and side projects are you catching up on while you’re on vacation with your family?

And, I certainly don’t mean, “How good are you going to feel when you get in those extra hours of work off the clock this holiday season and return to work knowing you were able to get ahead when everyone else was enjoying drinks with their long lost cousins?”

I’m talking about the holistic you – the you that loves Cabernet Sauvignon with your grandfather, and that very certain kind of chocolate your mother always buys at Christmas. I’m talking about the you that feels easily creative while cooking, is slowly realizing your dad actually does have a good sense of humor and likes to get out and show your brothers who’s boss on the football field.

I’m talking about the you that likes baths and enjoy walks on the beach – who laughs so hard it hurts with your sister, dances in the kitchen…and would give anything for tickets to see your favourite band just one more time.

That you.

In her blog “Unraveling into self-love,” Nina Moodley writes that, “This old paradigm of work-work-work until one day when we finally have what we want keeps joie de vivre at bay. Do you really want to leave your joie de vivre to chance? In the meantime…you are alive. What if, instead of approaching creating your epic romance, fit body and fabulous business with struggle and overwhelm, you approached it with a focus on pleasure and sustainability?”

Most entrepreneurs I’ve met share this antsy rushed feeling I’m all too familiar with, where we want to get to where we’re going as quickly as possible and feel we “should” be working constantly in order to get there. I’m familiar with the sentiment that “arrival” comes from constant focus on business. And, I’m unfortunately familiar with the burnout that comes in the wake of that kind of ideology.

I’m happy to say that I am also familiar with the enjoyment that comes from building your own business from a place of focus on pleasure and sustainability. And, I’m here to say that it works. In fact, I’m here to say it works better.

My entrepreneur coach asked me to wrap up 2012 by laying out my successes for the year. What are the things you achieved? she asked me. My homework, this holiday, was to brainstorm and create a document outlining what I have accomplished in 2012.

I’ve been jotting down notes for a couple weeks now to create this document. And, what I found to be unequivocally true was this: when I made decisions that were healthy for me as a person, my business grew.

I moved to New York because I believed it was the place I would enjoy most. That sparked a re-brand, a new customer base and a move into wholesale which was one of the most profitable moves my business ever made. I hired my business coach because I wanted to be happier during the process of building my startup. Since beginning my work with her, our profits have tripled. I could keep going – about how moving to a borough where I felt I would like my surroundings better provided new networking opportunities that proved fruitful, that joining an entrepreneurship group to make friends has sparked relationships with new clients and days spent out in the city enjoying little shops in East Village have resulted in new accounts. Not to mention, when I finally began mapping out a plan towards a life I believed would make me happiest, I began to be more productive.

When I chose to change from a life spent mostly working at home, without investing in friendships and enjoyment of my social life, I actually began making more money.

I’ve learned that when I minimize my existence to that of a business owner – I limit the creative, innovative scope of my business to a singular experience: work. I don’t get inspired. I keep the same mindset. Conversely, when I enjoy my life and broaden my experience, I have all kinds of new perspective and inspiration to bring to the table.

We’re entering the beginning of a new year, and, while I’m certainly thinking about all the things I want to accomplish, I’m not going to begin on them during the holiday.

Instead, I am going to the ocean with my family. After that, I’m going to dance and laugh and enjoy myself in San Francisco with friends I haven’t seen in almost a year.

I plan to bring all kinds of new inspiration and drive back to my business, come January.

What are you doing for yourself this holiday?

Shanley Knox

Shanley is the CEO/Founder of Nakate Project, a global accessories brand created in collaboration with celebrity stylist Antonio Esteban and individual artisans in Uganda. She live in New York, where she runs her business in a little Brooklyn flat off the M train.

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