Many would say that running a small business is an incredibly rewarding endeavor. With hard work and dedication, you get to watch your personal vision play out in front of you. Unfortunately, along with this continuous effort and hard work comes sacrifice.
A 2015 study by Constant Contact revealed how business can cause entrepreneurs to stop taking vacations, spend less time with friends and family, and even neglect their personal wellbeing. In fact, 56 percent said they felt that they could never be away from their business. This is why it’s crucial to consciously reverse this trend so that instead of stressing, you’re thriving. Savor each milestone, celebrate every hurdle that’s been overcome, and reward yourself every chance you get.
If you’re in any way familiar with science, you’ve probably heard at least one of several popular tales on how famous scientists made their discoveries. Oddly enough, all of these stories have one thing in common — the scientists weren’t working. August Kekulé is a perfect example — a chemist who had been relentlessly working to determine how the atoms in benzene were arranged. Exhausted, confused and stuck, he gave up and went to bed. The next morning, he effortlessly awoke with the answer, which came to him in a conceptual dream.
As an entrepreneur, it’s important to remind yourself that breaks, and even rewards, are not necessarily counterproductive.
How to Reward Yourself
It’s not uncommon for entrepreneurs to be so unfamiliar with self-care that they feel clueless about how to get started. Often, fear-based thinking can hold you back from taking the time you desperately need for rejuvenation. Examples of this style of thinking might be: “I don’t have enough time” or “What if something happens while I’m gone?” Ultimately, it’s unrealistic to only be concerned with risks and possibilities of what can go wrong.
Of course, you might be reading this and thinking that rewarding yourself is out of the question for financial reasons. But even if your company is strapped for cash, there are always ways to pull it off.
Option #1: Give Yourself a Bonus
This is the simplest and most obvious way to reward yourself as a business owner. If you have a difficult time justifying a bonus, try to think of yourself as just another employee. You wouldn’t deny one of your best employees a bonus for a breakthrough or unprecedented accomplishment, so why deny yourself?
If you’re still not convinced, look at it from a logical perspective: A study across 27 countries that included more than 2,000 employees showed the dramatic effect rewards have on an individual’s productivity. So if you can’t seem to get out of a workaholic mindset, just think of a bonus as yet another method for boosting productivity. For those who just don’t have the financial security for this method, don’t worry, there are many free ways to create rewards too.
Option #2: Set Aside Time for Non-Work Activities
You know that fun thing that you’ve always wanted to do, yet each day you consistently fail to carve out time for it? Again, if finances are an issue, these activities don’t have to cost a cent. The only important criteria is that they are totally dissociated from work. Some examples are a night out (or in) with friends, a vacation with family, or a binge-watch of your favorite Netflix series. Even just allowing yourself to sleep in or take a nap counts. Both large and small, seemingly insignificant gestures count. Think of yourself as a battery. With each tiny action, you recharge a few percentage points of your battery life. It also helps to remember why you started your business in the first place. Maybe it was for greater freedom and the ability to do what you wanted. Don’t let that desire slide just because you feel too busy.
Option #3: Celebrate Small Achievements
Another easy way to maintain positivity is to keep track of small accomplishments and share these successes with others. Only having huge goals on your radar is a surefire way to become discouraged and overworked. In addition, this mindset makes it difficult to notice daily progress and feel satisfied that you are on the right track.
On the other hand, setting a series of small, attainable goals is how entrepreneurs can congratulate and motivate both themselves and their staff. An example of this might be reaching a particular sales goal and going out for dinner with employees. In another instance, you might clean and organize your entire office and leave a few hours early for the day. Incremental steps lead you to where you want to be, so why not get in touch with the present moment and congratulate yourself?
A Marathon, Not a Sprint
As you’re probably beginning to realize, running a business is more of a marathon than a sprint. Conserving your energy and developing work-life boundaries is not lazy and self-indulgent, as many workaholics will testify. In reality, rewards help to ensure the sustainability of your business in the long-term (not to mention your sanity in the short-term). With success comes new hurdles and additional business obstacles, so nip this practice in the bud early on and reward yourself on a regular basis.