Image credit: Sunny_mjx edited by: rmlalchan

Editors note: This is our first guest blog post from new minihub member Fola Ekundayo. Some really good advice. See what you think.

Is looking after your self-esteem in your business plan?

Working for yourself can be fulfilling and freeing; it’s great, you’re the boss now and can work when you want on what you want. On the other hand, you’re the boss now, and that means the responsibility is yours – all yours; all the successes, all the decisions, and all the failures. Unless you’re incredibly resilient, both your real and perceived failures can gnaw away at your self-confidence.

Tortured artists?

The idea of a ‘tortured artist’ can seem like a cliché, but studies show that there is a link between creativity and mental illnesses including mood disorders, bipolar and depression. While creative people aren’t more prone to mental illness, it seems those with mental illnesses gravitate to the arts. 72% of entrepreneurs in a recent study said that they had mental health concerns.

That’s a bit depressing in itself isn’t it? Don’t stop reading! The good news is that there are some ways to combat this which I’ll look at in a bit. First of all let’s have a closer look at self-esteem.

‘I believe I can fly’

In business what you believe about yourself is possibly the most important element of your business. If you don’t have a healthy belief in yourself, it’s harder for anyone else to believe or trust you enough to buy into what you’re offering.

Self-esteem is another way of describing how you see and value yourself. When you think of yourself in your mind’s eye, what do you see? Are you a child or adult, powerful or weak, do you look down on yourself or worship yourself? This should give you a bit of an idea of your level of self-esteem.

Ways to keep your morale in good shape

Just as self-esteem can be worn away, it can also be built up. Here are some of the tips I have picked up over the years.

Separate ‘who you are’ from your ‘what you do’

What you believe about yourself stems from what you think about yourself, so watching your thoughts is important.

Repeat after me:

“I am not my business, my business is not me. If my project fails, I am not a failure”

It’s easy to take things personally when things go wrong – after all it’s your work, you have put your heart and soul into it, and even though it’s an expression of who you are, it still isn’t actually you. We all have so much value and worth outside of our projects and even talents – don’t let your work define you.

Keep a journal

Journaling is a great way to monitor how you feel about yourself and what you are doing. You can sometimes catch yourself in a downward or negative slide earlier if you keep checking in with yourself.

Again get creative, if you aren’t much of a writer you could use something more abstract like sketching or using colours to reflect mood.

You could make this part of your daily, weekly or quarterly review.

Give yourself credit

If you have low self-esteem, chances are you are too hard on yourself, remind yourself how great you really are.

Create an extended version of your CV detailing every bit of skill, knowledge or expertise on every project you’ve ever done.
Collect any positive feedback you get – and refer to it often to keep yourself positive.
Take time to celebrate when you’ve achieved something, instead of moving on to the next thing.

Stay connected

Sounds obvious but working on a business requires focus and a lot of time and sacrifice – sometimes to the detriment of relationships with the very people who will give you the support you need.

Plan in time with family and friends before everything else each week.
Spend time with positive, forward-looking people who are secure enough to constructively reflect an accurate picture of yourself back to you.
If you are prone to depression or other health issues, keep talking to your doctor and support networks.

Respect yourself

“I respect myself and insist upon it from everybody”– Maya Angelou

How do you treat something you really value like a car or an expensive dress? What do you do to protect and keep it in good condition? Whatever you’ve thought of, you’re much more important than that and also need protecting and maintenance –look after yourself.

Make sure you get enough sleep, nutrition and exercise
Say no to unreasonable demands –standing up for yourself and to others helps boost self-esteem and helps you feel proud of yourself
Invest in yourself; this maybe through improving your skills, clothing, appearance and even your body language.

Take a break

Sometimes we feel bad about ourselves simply because we are over-tired and haven’t let ourselves play. Doing things you enjoy builds self-esteem.

Become more aware of what activities give you energy. For me it includes talking to good friends, going for a walk, cooking and pretty much doing anything creative.

Those are my tips – what has helped you?

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Fola Ekundayo

I’m a muser, writer, editor, poet and problem solver with an enterprising streak learning to reign in my multiple enthusiasms. These include: creative community work, prayer and meditation, street art, and <a href="">nature photography</a>. I get paid to <a href="">write, edit and manage web content</a> and have been self-employed for 3 years. 

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