Why I quit my business for a year (and what I learned from it)
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In 2015 I did something I never thought I’d do.
I quit my blogging business.
For many in the blogging world, quitting your blog biz to return to the 9-5 is akin to selling your soul to the devil. Ok, maybe not that extreme, but I know people (including past me) who would rather be dragged by the fingernails than face the prospect of returning to the corporate jungle.
However, that’s exactly what I did.
Let me explain why.
I was working on my blog full time, making a great income from blog coaching and my health eCourse. But (this is a big but), I didn’t have systems and structures in place to support my sanity and truth be told, because of this, I wasn’t ready for full time entrepreneurship.
When you’re relying solely on your blog to generate your full-time income, it’s difficult to release money-related fears and thoughts of your never-ending to-do list, no matter how much you're making. If you've been there, I'm sure you can relate. And while it’s thoroughly enjoyable, working for yourself is a steep learning curve. The first year is extra intense.
I personally found the pressure to make money stressful, and while I was enjoying working with clients and building a business, I felt that my need to generate consistent profit was negatively impacting my creativity and pleasure brought from my work. This feeling was draining; I found myself trapped in a web of my own making, unable to ever switch off or produce creative and helpful ideas.
We took a holiday with some mates to the South Coast of NSW (Australia). Despite the epic surrounding bay and beaches, I spent full days inside working, unable to let go of my biz.
On Good Friday, Will’s grandfather sadly passed away. A few days later, my Pa became sick and spent the month of April in hospital before he too, sadly, died. My parents were away, and as we’d been told he wasn’t going to pull through, I chose to stop working and sit by his bedside.
After Pa died, there were a few weeks before we were to move to England to live. I found myself paralysed with work at this point, unsure of what I should do. I’d just spent a month without implementing any income generating activities, and I wasn’t able to take on new clients because I didn’t know what our situation would be when we arrived in London.
We arrived in London, and I needed to work and earn money straight away. An opportunity to take on some temp work arose two days after we arrived, and I took it. Initially, it was supposed to be for a month, and I didn’t plan to see it out. After a few weeks however, I began to feel resistance to returning to my business (which surprised nobody more than me!).
I was feeling exhausted and disillusioned, which I now realise was an indicator that I was disconnected from my vision and mission to help people. I didn't know it then, but feeling this way was a sign that clarity and perspective were needed.
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September 2015 - I quit
After wrestling between my head and heart for a few months, I officially closed my business, unsure if I would return.
While my heart told me to surrender, my fiery Capricorn energy struggled with acceptance both before and after this decision. I tend to be the type of person who pushes and pushes until I crash, and here it was no different. I wanted to keep pushing and persevere, however I couldn't ignore that within my energy reserves there was nothing left to give.
Meanwhile, the temp job had rolled on each month and became a fixed-term contract. While I found the restriction of 9-5 working limiting and exhausting, the steady flow of (albeit lower) income, working with colleagues and ability to switch off were all a welcome relief. I was grateful for my job and the space and income it was providing me with.
Time off allowed me to get accustomed to life in a new city. I was able to focus my energy on making friends, exploring craft and creative pursuits (like tapestry weaving and dying my leather shoes!) and eventually to getting healthy and well when the Heathrow Injection could no longer be ignored! I also discovered and began to explore my passion for photography during this time, which I wouldn't have done if operating in the tunnel visioned 'to-do-list mode' that was my pre-2016 modus operandi.
From around April 2016, I began to experience job-related anxiety. I had a panic attack at work, and by September I was certain that the anxiety was a sign that I was ready to return to my blog. The year off had served its purpose, allowed me to refresh and refocus myself and make a return to my business with more clarity, vision and passion than I'd held before. (Side note: If you're experiencing depression or anxiety, I recommend seeking out the help of a professional for support. You don't need to go through it alone.)
Lessons learned from a year off blogging
While I'm happy to return to my own business, I don't regret taking time off at all. I learned a lot from my year hiatus, and I want to share the lessons with you in case it helps you too.
It’s okay to admit you're burnt out.
You haven't failed, as much as you might feel you have. It doesn't necessarily mean you have to 'quit,' either. If you're ready to face up to the fact you're burnt out, take it as a message from your body telling you you need a massive chill out! You don’t have the reach the point of exhaustion before you decide to take a break (in fact, I wouldn't recommend waiting at all!).
- Quitting is okay.
Maybe you will return to your blog, maybe you won't. Time and space are the best healers, and I recommend giving yourself some indefinite space if you're not sure whether to continue with your blog or not.
- Your dreams are worth pursuing.
If you realise after some time off that you do want to return to blogging, do it! YOUR DREAMS ARE WORTH PURSUING! It's never too late to get back into it.
- Take a step back, regularly.
Whether a short holiday or long hiatus, will bring renewed energy and clarity. This includes taking off most weekends, and setting yourself firm work hours.
- Resting is... productive!
Who woulda thunk it?! I've always made 'busy-ness' a habit, seeing rest as unproductive (who has time to stop when you wanna do ALL THE THINGS?!). However I realised this couldn't be further from the truth. Rest is super important. In fact, I don't think we can function properly without it.
- Explore creativity.
Exploring other creative outlets outside your blog is wonderful for mind, body and soul.
- Set smart goals.
When you're running a business, make profitability and efficiency important goals for yourself (as well as being a good human, of course). Use smart systems to save your time and sanity. This will support your creative energy and ultimately bring you more freedom.
- Getting biz-savvy is smart, not soulless.
It will benefit you and your readers and clients.
- Plan plan plan.
Be strategic about your blog schedule, social media schedule and product and marketing schedule. If I'd planned better in the early days, I'd have probably saved myself a lot of time and unnecessary energy.
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Turns out taking a year off blogging was a blessing in disguise. While I wasn’t living out my dream career during this time, I got re-focused, re-inspired and found new creative passions, all of which I’m not sure would have happened had I continued pushing through. And while it's too early to say at the time of publishing, I believe that ultimately this time will have helped me to become a better service provider for my clients, and will help me run a smarter and more profitable business going forward.
So friend, that's why I took a year off blogging.
While I'm super glad to be back, I know some (maybe many) of you may be where I was a year ago, right now.
If that's you, know that you're not alone. If you're experiencing or have ever experienced blog-xaustion, I wrote this post for you.
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A free planner to help you hit your health blog goals.
Have you ever taken an extended break from your blog?
If so, what happened?
Are you someone who needs to take a break from your blog? Has this post encouraged you to try it?
Share in the comments below.