Archive for February 20th, 2013

Dear Danielle: How Do You Stay in Shape in this Business?

In this week’s episode of What Would Danielle Say?, a new business owner writes:

Dear Danielle:

I have a crazy question for you. I’ve just started my business and am also a part-time college student. I find that I’m spending a lot of time sitting on my butt. How do you keep in shape while working this kind of business? —DRF

Not a crazy question at all! It’s a real challenge in our kind of work because we are sitting at the computer for long stretches of time.

I love this question because at its foundation, it’s also really a business question, and I’ll tell you why in a bit.

First, let me address the practical question on its surface.

As with anything, we’re going to find a way or make the time for those things we want most.

And I’m no fitness poster child. I’m working on losing a few pounds that I’ve put on over the years of my business myself. So I can only tell you what I did.

I was confronted one year with the fact that I was no longer in  my 20s or 30s, able to eat whatever I wanted and never gain an ounce. What?! When did that happen? lol

On top of that, as we enter our 40s (and I just turned 49 this year), unless you are one of those blessed women with miracle genes, it’s just not as easy anymore to stay in shape and keep the pounds off. It’s not impossible, but you DO have to work harder and be more conscious about your eating and lifestyle.

That’s when I had my awakening and began to get conscious about what I needed to do to be healthier and lose some weight.

I began learning about nutrition and healthier living and eating.

Luckily, I’ve never had any food addictions or bad eating habits like sweets and junk food. I’ve always eaten pretty healthy foods in a mostly raw, local, whole, organic diet. Where I learned to get clear was in portion sizes and knowing my numbers: the amount of calories I needed to both lose and maintain weight and keep within those daily numbers.

Somehow or another I got turned onto Jillian Michaels. To this day, I’ve never seen a video or watched her on TV. But I came across her book Winning by Losing and it really was the turning point for me. And the reason is because she provides the simple math you need to know in order to lose weight and have more control over your weight.

Since I’ve always been a proponent of local and organic, her message also really resonated with me because she’s a huge advocate of that as well.

I don’t deprive myself of all of life’s pleasures and I’m still able to indulge once in awhile BECAUSE I know my numbers.

So I highly recommend you get Jillian’s book if youi want to become more knowledgeable and in control of this area of your life.

She walks you through crunching your numbers, understanding calories and how to count them, and figuring out your metabolic type (whether you are a balanced, fast or slow oxidizer, which is important to know because it tells you what kind of protein/carb/fat ratios you should be eating in every meal and the kinds of foods that are best for your particular type).

I believe her website also has some free online tools to help you do these calculations as well.

The other thing I do in living healthy and staying in shape run/hike/walk at least 3 miles day and do an exercise routine (another thing Jillian Michaels can give you direction with), 5 days a week.

Now, here’s why this is such a great business question.

Because why do we start our businesses? For most of us, our reasons go far beyond merely helping others and making a living. There are other things that are important to us, often having to do with loftier ambitions, having a more fulfilling life, a higher quality life and lifestyle, being able to be more present in the lives of our children and loved ones. All kinds of reasons.

And one of my biggest philosophies is that your business should support your life, not suck the life out of it.

And so this brings us back to the foundations of our business, how we set it up to be able to live life the way we want, to engineer our work so that we have time for those pursuits, interests and pleasures that are important to us.

I would venture to say that for most people, they are going about their business as if it was a job. They work with that first client or two as if they were an employee, never realizing the future implications and unsustainability of that dynamic.

Eventually, they find that because of the way they are working with clients (as well as some of the work they are doing), they have no room to take on others, their income is drastically limited, they have hardly any time for life…. it just goes on and on.

This is why we have to be intentional about the set-up of our business. to be knowledgeable and have foresight in how our foundations (i.e., our standard, policies, procedures, etc.) affect our ability to live the way we want to live.

So, like me, for example, it’s important for me to be able to have time for my run and exercise every day. It’s important to me that I have space around the work and have a methodical and well-intentioned system for how I handle it so that I am not stressed out every day about deadlines. It’s important to me that I don’t have to leap out of bed every day because I’ve got a pile of work that if I don’t get done in an instant will overwhelm and bury me.

And so I’m intentional in the fact that I am not a substitue employee. I provide strategic support, not daily support. I don’t (and never have) offered day-to-day assistance such as telling clients “I’ll manage your INbox everyday!” or receptionist work or managing calendars. I don’t do same day tasks (and I have a whole system for managing requests and turn-around times).

I’d never have a life or have the kind of freedom and flexibility that I do, if I did any of that kind of work or worked with clients in any of those ways. I’d be chained to my desk all day.

Figure out how you WANT your life to look like every day AND figure out what you DON’T want it to be like. These become the building blocks for your policies and procedures, your standards and the intentional way you choose clients, how you work with them and what work you do (and don’t do) for them.

As you go about that process, you also begin to realize that you need clarity about what you are in business and what you are in business to be/do for clients. (I’m pretty certain for most people, that’s NOT to be a beck-and-call employee.)

I now work what amounts to a 3-day week in my business (yes, you read that right) AND I’m able to provide vastly better care and support to my clients in the process. It’s crazy counter-intuitive, and I love showing people how they have a business like that, too.

If you need help in restructuring your business and laying foundations that will help you create a business and life you want, that supports those things that are important you, I’ve packaged up all my systems and knowledge in this area in my guide, Power Productivity & Biz Management for Administrative Consultants.