Being in business for yourself requires three things.
A sense of discipline.
A sense of self.
And a motherfucking tube of lipstick.
When you run a business, NOTHING about your workday looks like anybody else’s, and soon it follows that nothing about your life looks very much like anybody else’s, either.
Late nights. Unusual schedules. Working more than everybody you know.
Feast and famine. Elation and despair. Freedom on a Monday. Shackles on a Sunday.
And your hilarious diet, which probably consists of a jumbo ladle-full of hummus slopped into a tortilla, shoved desperately into your mouth between clicks on the keyboard. (If you’re feeling really fancy, maybe you even drizzled Sriracha.)
Soon, you can find yourself going down the rabbit hole of doom, AKA the moment you look up and realize you haven’t properly dressed yourself in weeks. EARRINGS, WHAT ARE THOSE?
Which is funny, because if they say character is how you behave when no one is watching, then we’re all in trouble, because this means that our character is actually the equivalent of a stanky, yoga-pant-wearing hobo parading around as Donald Trump.
I’M GOING TO BUILD A
Which sounds all cute and kind of funny to think about, vag-stained yoga pants and all. But I’m not writing this to actually be cute and funny, because if you do this long enough (and I know you’re doing this, mama—we’ve all been there), there are some other side effects that should be plastered on your desktop like they plaster those SMOKING KILLS warning labels on cigarettes these days.
One of those side effects—and maybe one of the most dangerous ones—is that when you stop caring for a few days, you can eventually stop caring, period.
Doing nice things for yourself—even the simple things like dressing in a way that makes you feel like a hot little number, or doing your hair a fun new way, or accessorizing with jewelry that makes you feel more you—become these entirely trivial, unimportant things that nobody has time to do anymore, because who’s got time to do all of that, anyway, and even if you did, who’s going to see you?
In essence, pleasure becomes the enemy, because pleasure feels frivolous.
A time waster. And when you’re a business owner, every minute counts—every minute before the kids get home, the husband wants sex, the friend needs a shoulder, the emails pour in. So you race to the computer; race to the work; race to the to-do list.
While that might not be evil on its surface…eventually you’ll really start to resent it.
You’ll become depleted.
And angry that everyone else “has it easy.”
And so you know what you start doing?
Not the stuff you should, like actually giving yourself more pleasure—taking the damn walk, indulging in a bath, spending an extra half hour making yourself feel pretty—but you’ll do the opposite: You’ll look for the pleasure the quick way.
Like stuffing your face with food.
Drowning yourself in wine. (After all, it’s the only highlight of your day, after feeling like a slave to your business.)
Going on shopping sprees online.
Anything to give yourself a “hit” of feeling like you still have something pleasurable to look forward to besides your to-do list.
You’ve got nothing else that brings you joy, so these become the rapid-fire substitutes that you can parasite from without having to devote any real time to getting pleasured the healthy way. (Yup, even that way.)
But what if pleasure wasn’t a time waster, but the only thing granting you more of it?
Wake up. Think out loud to yourself: What can I give to myself right now that will feel good? How can I be kind to myself in these next fifteen minutes? What can I do to make myself feel special so I can do good work today—without feeling bad about it?
And then go get dressed.
It’s not about dressing yourself; it’s about hanging onto yourself. Hanging onto yourself through the transformation that comes when you start your own business and nothing else looks the same anymore. It might seem like a superficial suggestion, but the psychology of looking like yourself helps you feel like yourself when the going gets tough.
And when you feel like yourself, you’re less likely to treat yourself like shit.
And that, my love, is the first rule of doing business.
The CEO might be her own boss, but she does not have to be her own bitch.