I'm confident in saying that I know why you became a holistic health practitioner. It's because you want to help people and take care of them.
Maybe you turned your mess into your message like me, and started your business to help other people who suffer from the same health issues you personally overcame with the help of whatever modality you favour. Maybe you had a close friend or family member who you saw suffering on a daily basis with a disease that could have been largely prevented or helped with holistic health practices.
It doesn't matter what ignited your inherent want to help people. However, there's one huge problem with constantly giving of your energy to other people: it's draining. Physically, mentally, emotionally draining. And if you don't stop to take care of yourself once in awhile, you're going to end up like I did in July, when I hit such a low level of mental rock bottom with my anxiety that I didn't even know it existed.
As holistic health practitioners, we preach self-love and self-care. It could be in the form of nutrition, yoga, massage, exercise, herbs, essential oils, or energy work. Doesn't matter, it's all a form of self-love, of feeling worthy enough of taking care of yourself first before everyone else.
I got myself into trouble because I ignored my own advice. And I'm not alone.
How many of you reading this are working 10, 12, 14, or even 16 hour days? It could be because you're in full-time practice and terrified that if you don't take willing clients on as fast as possible, they're going to go to someone else. It could be because you're not making enough money in your practice, and had to find a part or full-time job. It could be because you're a Type-A control freak (ahem, like me!) who doesn't effectively delegate ... or who feels like you can't afford to delegate.
Whatever the reason, holistic health practitioners are burning out in droves, and I was no different. I ignored the first thing I tell my clients to do, which is to listen to the secret language that their body is telling them, aka symptoms. My anxiety was out of control. I would cry at the drop of a hat. I was exhausted. I skipped proper meals because I had something for work going on.
And at the end of July, my anxiety became so bad that I couldn't ignore it anymore. I couldn't function ... again. After hitting the same proverbial wall many times over the last 3 years, I finally decided to do something about it. And what my heart was telling me to do scared the shit out of me.
My heart was telling me to take the entire month of August off of my business. Holy eff.
I felt guilty, telling myself "who the hell am I to think that I deserve an entire month off? I'm not a millionaire. I haven't earned it".
I felt like a failure, like why did I let my body and my anxiety get to this horrible place again when I theoretically and scientifically knew what to do?
Despite this horrible self-talk, I still listened to my heart, and heard it beating out of my chest when I finally voiced my feelings to my husband and mom. I thought they'd tell me to suck it up. Instead, they looked at me with tears in their eyes (ok, that was just my mom. As a mom now, I couldn't even imagine the pain that I had caused her to see her child in crisis, who she would do anything for but couldn't help in the least in that moment) and said "Ok".
One little word, two letters, were all that was needed to justify the feelings that I couldn't deny anymore.
The last non-working vacation I took was my honeymoon. In May 2010. That's pathetic.
With the help of therapy, reading, lots of napping, and plain old time off to decompress, I realized that the reason that I'm a workaholic, the reason why I push myself so hard, really comes down to low self esteem. I didn't feel like a success yet, because I didn't feel worthy of true, no strings attached, compassionate love. I felt like the only way that people would truly like and love me is because I had to damn well earn it, not simply because of who I am.
I learned that by just being me, I am worthy. Not because I'm a mother, daughter, wife, sister, friend, holistic nutritionist, online entrepreneur, leader, or award winner. Just because I was born.
That, my friend, is a powerful lesson to learn, and it wasn't easy. There were tears, fears, and doubts. But it was all worth it, because now? Now there is confidence and clarity that I've never had before. I've (mostly) stopped comparing myself with the thousands of other people I see online. I see my own path, and I'm confident to follow it because I have a vision, but also because I feel it in my bones that it's right for me.
Now, it's lovely to think in theory of taking a month off as a health practitioner with her own business, but there were logistics involved. Mainly, what would happen to my income? Well, to be honest, it did decrease a bit (maybe 25%?), but I still had enough money coming in the door to cover my basic bills, and this is how I did it:
1. Reduce your business expenses
There were services that I was paying for in my business that I either wasn't using, or was using before I really needed them. A perfect example was my shopping cart software, which was costing me $90 a month ... and that was with zero transactions. Depending on the number of transactions that month, it could cost upwards of $170.
Now that I've migrated my website to SquareSpace, there's no flat monthly fee for merchant services for products I sell on my site (and I haven't even had time yet to move over my meal plans). SquareSpace uses Stripe merchant services. You only get charged when a transaction is made, and the percentages are on par with pretty much every other merchant service provider. That means I save $90 a month right there that I've been spending for almost 2 years. That's over $2,000 that I could have been paying myself.
I also switched my business credit card to a different type at the same banking institution with a lower interest rate. When I signed up for the card, I didn't carry a balance. When I re-branded my old site last year, I then started carrying a balance of almost $9,000 at a 19.99% interest rate. Now, my interest rate is 11.95%, which is 40% less. Again, for an entire year, I've been paying about $80 more a month than I needed to. That's just stupid of me. Lesson: review your banking needs at least every 6 months, if not every 3. I calculate and pay my HST quarterly, so I should review my banking needs then, too. My base carrying costs (i.e. the base services that I spend money on to run my business) are now well less than $500 compared to almost $1,000.
One of the hardest decisions that I made was to let my assistant go. I love her dearly, she is an amazing person, but I was the one who wasn't prepared to work with her. It was me, not her. This was a classic example of me wanting the prestige of "being successful" by having an assistant, without even considering the responsibility and time investment of having one. I didn't take the time to properly train her or come up with any procedure manuals, and I also didn't stop long enough to think of what her workday would look like each week until she showed up. I would literally say in front of her "what should I have you do today?". Then I would come up with a list of things that may or may not have been a priority for my business. Let's just say that I was the world's most unprepared boss, and it wasn't fair to me or her to continue working together. When I do get my shit together, she'll be the first person that I call!
2. Base your income off of a 4-week month
I had this revelation in the shower one day (all my best ideas come to me in the shower), that my sales and income goals are all based off a 4 week month, but there are 4 extra weeks each year. In the past, which behaviours led me to yet another mental breakdown, I've used those extra weeks to try and squeeze out a little more productivity and income. But what about if in the months that have an extra week, I take that as vacation?
I learned in August that if I take time off of my business, the world actually doesn't end. After my month off, I'm so much more creative, energetic, and just an all-around nicer person. The work that I'm churning out now is heads and tails better than what I was creating when I was energetically depleted.
I have to admit that I'm kind of newly addicted to time off, but it's not realistic to take every other month off. After 5 years of no vacation, a week off every quarter sounds SO luxurious, and since my sales goals are based off a 4 week month, I'm not really missing out on income. It's a total win-win. You can bet that the weeks are already blocked off in my calendar for 2016.
Look, I know what it's like to feel desperate in my business to create some much needed income. I know what it's like to stay up to 3 am to get that sales page done, usually for some totally self-imposed timeline that could have easily been changed. I created my own chaos, and I take full ownership of that. But for all of you newbies who have yet to get burned out, and for all of you who have made yourselves sick by working too much, take it from me that one week off every now and then is a small price to pay if it means that the rest of the year you feel so good that you can't help but get better and better as a holistic practitioner and entrepreneur, and your income will absolutely reflect that.
3. Have a source of passive income
I believe that every holistic health practitioner should have 3 forms of income: 1) 1-1 services, 2) online programs, and 3) passive income. Note that online programs and passive income are NOT the same things! I think that people get confused and lump online programs and passive income together, but anyone who's launched and run an online program will tell you that it is FAR from passive. A passive income source means that you could literally sit on your butt and do absolutely nothing, and still have money coming in the door.
To me, there are two different ways to fully achieve this. One is a totally automated sales funnel, which would go like this: traffic generator > join e-mail list > autoresponder series > customer purchases an instantly downloadable product.
If it's truly passive income, the traffic generator would be something like a Facebook ad (leading to an evergreen webinar or not) or a Pinterest pin, but not a blog post. For a blog post, you have to actively write it, share it on social media, and sent it out to your newsletter list. That's not passive. In fact, it takes me upwards of 6 hours to write and edit a blog post, create the graphics, create the copy for Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, and then share it on those platforms. Not passive at all. Plus, depending on how long your autoresponder series is and where your pitch is within that series (I have 4 autoresponder e-mails that get sent out when someone joins my health list, each 1 week apart. The pitch to purchase one of my meal plans is on the 4th e-mail), it could be a month until you start driving sales.
Something else to consider is the sales conversion rate, where on average only 1-3% of people on your list actually buy something. If you needed to make $2,000 a month totally passively, and you sell a $20 meal plan, you would have to sell 100 meal plans. At even a fantastic 3% conversion rate, you would have to add 3,333 new people to your e-mail list in one month without doing any active work. With the sign-up page for your e-mail list having a conversion rate anywhere from 10% to 50%, at best you would have to have almost 7,000 people click on said Facebook ad. Not impossible, but not likely for most people without thousands or even tens of thousands to send on ads. So, $2,000 totally passively each month might not be realistic for most of us.
The second way is with a network marketing company. Stay with me now, as I know some of you have stopped reading and are closing this post, maybe even unsubscribing from my newsletter! I have a secret to tell you: I hate network marketing. Correction, I hate what most of us traditionally think about network marketing!
When you say those two words, I think people who reek of icky sales tactics, are sleazy, and who e-mail, call, or text you every week for 6 months until you finally have to tell them to fuck off. Up until last year, I despised network marketing, and never bought one product from any of my friends in one. I thought they were all pyramid schemes, or only the people at the top actually managed to make a living off them. Well, now I'm a proud part of a network marketing company that sells essential oils. It's completely in line with my ethics, morals, and life beliefs, and I have a team approaching 400 people in less than a year.
I've never once felt like I was "selling" something that people didn't need, or pulling the wool over anyone's eyes. I share products and a lifestyle that I've personally witnessed can change peoples' lives, and not because I'm training other people to sell it. Far from it. 90% of the people who join the company I'm with are people just like my holistic health clients, who are looking to personally use the products to improve their health and their life.
FYI, if you think I'm being cryptic by saying "the company I'm with", I'm not telling you the name because they're undergoing approval with Health Canada right now, and I'm being compliant with what our executive team is asking of us in Canada. If you want to know more info, I'm happy to send it to you if you fill out your information at the bottom of this info page (and I'm not going to harass you for the next 6 months!).
I'm all for you joining, or considering joining, any company that you believe it, not just mine. Whether they sell skin care, cleaning cloths, weight loss products, tropical juice, supplements, or essential oils, you have to feel it in your gut that you are 100% behind it. If you don't believe in it, people who you share it with are not going to believe YOU. They'll be able to feel your hesitation. Kind of like how there are nutritionists who are paleo and some who are vegan. We all want the same thing, we just use different ways of getting there.
If you do decide to join a network marketing company, here's something that I never knew about before I joined mine that is très important: you must have a conversation with your potential upline before you join about how they are going to support you. What kind of systems do they or the company have in place? How available are they going to be for questions? How big is their team (are you 1 of 10 or 1 of 10,000)? Do you get to mentor 1:1 with them? Do they have regular meetings or webinars? What is the commission structure? How are the products sourced? What kind of research is backing the products?
Basically, your upline is everything. If you sign up with the wrong person who isn't interested in supporting you, it's going to be infinitely harder, but not impossible, to succeed. I believe that this is where most of the horror stories of network marketing companies come from. You know, that person who invested thousands of dollars and had such a bad experience that it changed the way they look at the world. Choosing a network marketing company and the person who will be your upline is just like any other service you purchase. Think of the best haircut you've had, and then that time when you came home crying because it was the most horrible experience of your life. Be smart, do your research, and follow your gut.
If I can save even one person from the horrible burnout experience I had, I'll be happy. Making the decision to take time off isn't an easy one, but just by considering it you've already shifted your success mindset. Everyone deserves time off, whether it be one day, one weekend, one week, or one month! Guess what? I've already decided to take all of next August off, and it feels damn good!
I wanna know if you've ever felt burned out in your business? How did you get through it?
The comments you leave could change someone else's life or business, so please share away!