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Soulstainability. Why you need it and how to get it.
Soulstainability (noun): The ability to sustain, uphold and continue ones lifestyle or business aspirations whilst remaining authentic to oneself, so as to avoid burning out.
Have you ever started a new business venture, work project or taken on a new lifestyle practice?
At first, you’re high as a kite with enthusiasm and confidence. In fact, you epitomise fearless living, which I absolutely love you for! You jump out of bed at the crack of dawn to do that something.
Creative ideas are flowing at all crazy hours of the night and you might lie awake thinking about them. There’s also a good chance you’ll talk incessantly to loved ones about your grand plans.
I’ve been there!
You’ve unleashed the Lioness! The world hears you roar with confidence and you roam through the day with fearless ambition. You courageously leap over each challenge or obstacle and nothing can stop you.
But then you crash.
I’ve been there too!
Failure is a part of life but there’s a difference between failing to recharge your mobile and failing to recharge your soul for optimal health and wellbeing. Goals, aspirations, dreams… Whatever you want to call them, need to be sustainable over the long-term as well.
I decided to apply the word soulstainability after some sad emails I received recently.
The first was from a burnt out Wellness Entrepreneur. This person had created a business they love (great!) but at a cost to their health (not great). Unfortunately, they burnt out and quit various commitments because it just wasn’t soulstainable.
The second email was from someone embarking on a new health regime. Fantastic! But unfortunately, they too had burnt out and quit. The new lifestyle just wasn’t soulstainable.
One was blogging and the other was jogging. They both failed to do what they set out to achieve… BUT THAT’S OK! There’s nothing wrong with failure, especially if we can learn from it.
What I learnt about burnout soulstainability
I’ve been writing professionally for nearly 15 years (minus 1+ years in hospital before I had a laptop to take in with me – you can read more about that here).
At first I was Copywriting in the corporate world and loved it. When a client’s exciting creative brief came across my desk, I’d have sleepless nights and bore friends or family with details of the concept, television script, radio script, headline or promotion. Needless to say, I burnt out a few times.
These days I’m still writing and doing work that I absolutely love, with a routine that is more soulstainable for me. I still bore loved ones with the details of projects but I’ve learnt a few things about building soulstainability that I want to share it with you, below.
A soul-based lifestyle shouldn’t be soul destroying.
Like many of my readers, I’m a graduate of IIN (Institute for Integrative Nutrition). I’ve been very proud and excited to see other graduates launch their own health and wellness businesses or routines.
But unfortunately, for every new soul-based lifestyle that pops onto my news feed, there seems to be another that has failed because it just wasn’t soulstainable.
Katie Wyatt, Host of The Wellness Entrepreneur on The Wellness Couch has seen similar patterns around soulstainability, particularly for those working in the health and wellness industry.
“Sometimes, we’re trying so hard to improve the health and wellness of others, we can become burnt out and forget to prioritise the health and wellness of ourselves. It’s important for al Wellness Entrepreneurs to remember that if we are not in peak energy and health, we will not do our best work for others. “
– Katie Wyatt
However, you needn’t be Wellness Entrepreneur to heed Katie’s advice. It applies to all of us, whether you’re the CEO of a multi-national or a self-employed yoga teacher… you get my drift!
So how do you ensure your business is soulstainable? How do you keep the fire burning without burning the candle at both ends?
Here are 8 ideas on how you can live and work soulstainably.
Number one has to be sleep. If I’m fatigued, so is my business. There’s a tonne of research from around the world to show just how detrimental poor sleep hygiene can be to your physical and mental health. If you’re doing a job you love, you’ll need to love sleeping too. For more details see this recent article on The Huffington Post.
Prioritise your own health
Eating and moving well is important for your physical and mental health. Especially if you’re working in the health and wellness field, you need to walk your talk! Or in my case, wheel the spiel
Learn the warning signs
Most of us know when we’re getting a bit run down or working too hard. Some of these things we can control with a little rest on the couch but if it’s more than that, have a chat with a professional.
Find your off switch
Depending on your current lifestyle and commitments, this could be anything from closing your laptop to physically getting away for a few minutes or days. You may even want to consider a media detox to help you unwind and you can go here for more on that.
Have a wind-down routine and stick to it
In corporate advertising agencies we had no real routines. You went home anywhere from 5pm until dawn. You’d get the work done but sometimes at the expense of your health.
Just because it’s soulstainable for someone else to be working at 2am or jogging at 4am doesn’t mean it’s right for you. We all have individual definitions of what’s soulstainable.
Surround yourself with the right sorts of people
It’s well documented that your success is the average of the 5 people they most associate with. Having a supportive, uplifting group of friends will help you through the harder times. Fellow Entrepreneurs can also be helpful because, often, they’ve been there before and know what you’re going through.
Prioritise your commitments and set non-negotiable rules around them
Actions speak louder than words and sometimes we ‘say’ something is a priority but our actions might not reflect that.
I hope some of these suggestions can give you a few ideas about living soulstainably, because I really don’t want to see you burn out.
I still have busy weeks or insane deadlines and commitments – you might too. Just remember to be honest with yourself about what is truly soulstainable for you.
Soulstainability is achievable and sometimes it just takes a few little tweaks to see your business AND YOU absolutely thriving!
If you have a spare 3.5 minutes, here’s a great video by Dr Tracey Marks about saying no and getting ‘Beyond the burnout’.