Mother Nature doesn’t wait.
The sun rises and sets. The moon waxes and wanes. The tides ebb and flow. The seasons change.
And as entrepreneurs and freelancers, we deal with the cycle of feast and famine — when the work is good, there’s usually more of it than you’d like to deal with. And when it’s lean, it’s like crickets took over the internet.
But no matter what’s going on in your personal life, the world keeps turning. No matter the pile of stuff you need to deal with on your desk, or the looming “to do” list that’s threatening to crush you, the grass keeps growing.
When you’re in the feast cycle, it’s tempting to take on everything that comes your way. To burn the midnight oil. To go-go-go while the getting is good.
But as you slave away at that massive pile of work, the grass is still growing. And unless you have someone to mow it for you (hint: most of us don’t), it doesn’t just magically stay at the perfect manageable length all spring, summer, and fall.
Mother Nature reminds us that you have to stop and take care of yourself. To cut your damn grass, before the neighbors start complaining. Before your yard becomes a jungle, your lawnmower can’t even begin to handle the mess, and your house gets swallowed up by the overgrowth.
But… Huh? You’re not a lawn!
I know, I know. Maybe it’s taking the metaphor a little too far, but there are some great lessons you can take away from the cyclical flow of Mother Nature.
So — let’s take a look at how to take this slightly offbeat example and apply it to your life and business (as well as your body and your health).
Fact: your internal grass is constantly growing. It needs consistent care and watering.
And by that, I mean that you need to get enough sleep, fuel your body properly, get some kind of movement in regularly, maybe even take the time to pause and reflect and connect with your community.
Self care, blah, blah, blah… It’s become a hot topic these days, to the point where you may feel like you’ll spew if you read yet another blog post telling you about the Top 5 Juice Detoxes or the Best Advanced Vinyasa Flows to Banish Stress Forever…
Except that as much as we may try to ignore the internal grass, it’s in there. Growing. Threatening to turn your body and mind into an impermeable jungle that can’t be tamed.
It’s like a friend of mine says:
“Eat, drink, and meditate properly. Because a sucky body makes you sucky at business.” – Rocky Kev
So as we head into the summer season, how are you taking care of your metaphorical lawn — and your not-at-all-metaphorical business?
You have a few choices:
1. The Untamed Wilderness
Let it grow wild. Who needs a well-kept lawn, or a functional body? A high-performing body and mind is for losers. Things you might hear yourself say if this is the type of lawn/self care you choose: “I’ll sleep when I’m dead,” or “I’ll just cram this can of Pringles in my face while I finish up a couple more hours of work,” or “I can work out tomorrow… or next week.”
A lot of people choose this option. I’m not judging, because I’ve dabbled in this approach, but I believe that there’s a better way. My multiple forays into burnout also seem to be an indicator that this isn’t the most useful approach… Just sayin’.
2. The Neglected Yard
Proceed in fits and starts — let the grass get almost out of control, and then take a weed whacker to it because the lawn mower won’t work once it’s this deep. Promise you’ll do better the next time. After a few days, see that the yard needs to be mowed… but you really have to push to make your next deadline. Let the grass grow unchecked. Rinse, and repeat.
While this option is better than number one – and it’s usually where you end up as you’re transitioning away from your wild phase – there’s still room for improvement.
3. The Ideal Lawn
Make a plan, and give your lawn attention on a regular basis. Sometimes it’ll rain for a week and the grass will grow like crazy while there’s nothing you can do about it. In those instances, you wait until the grass dries enough to get back out there and get back on top of things. But the rest of the time, the yard will take less time to keep at a manageable level, and (bonus!) the people next door won’t want to banish you from the neighborhood.
This is the ideal that we can all strive for. It takes into account that life happens and things get busy. That no one is perfect. But by making a plan for integrating self care into your life, you’ll set a strong foundation that lets you bounce back from those times where things don’t go exactly as planned.
4. The Golf Course Wannabe
And then… there’s that crazy neighbor who is out at all hours on their riding mower, cutting the grass even when it’s completely unnecessary. They go completely over the top, and get manic about the single dandelion that tries to manifest in the middle of their perfectly manicured lawn. Best lawn in the neighborhood? Try best lawn in the world!
We all know that guy. Don’t be that guy. There’s a balance to everything, and it’s just as unhelpful when you let any one part of life smother the rest. Seriously — just don’t.
Now that we’ve looked at a cross section of different approaches, let’s also shed light on the fact that no matter how well you think you’re doing…
The Grass is Always Greener
While it can be tempting, don’t compare your life or business to anyone else. Especially not what you see on social media — the perfectly curated, balanced, and envy-creating narrative that only shows the good, and glosses over anything less than perfect. Even those people who claim to be transparent aren’t showing 100% of what’s going on behind the scenes, for good reason.
Like most things in life, whatever approach you take will ebb and flow. The ideal balance of self care will shift depending on what’s going on in your life.
During the busy times, you may find that your meditation practice turns into 10 minutes a day instead of 20 — or you make it to the gym a couple of times, instead of working out every day. But when you’ve got some downtime, maybe those are the days of 30 minute meditations and long walks with your dog.
Wherever you are in the cycle, cut yourself some slack. Nobody is perfect, and no one’s lawn is, either. Not even the crazy neighbor who thinks that their perfect lawn can compete with the greens at Pebble Beach or Augusta…
What’s important is to be aware and consistent. To make progress toward your goals. And to not burn out – or drive yourself crazy – in the process. Sounds like an approach that’s helpful in life, and in business, huh?
What kind of approach do you take to taking care of yourself? Is there a way you can shift toward a more sustainable balance, or are you taking good care of your internal grass? Let me know in the comments!