If I could go back and tell myself one thing when I first started my coaching business it would be this: take care of yourself more.
Because as a coach, you are ultimately your number one asset. Your mind, your time, your wellbeing, and your ability to show up and do your best work with your clients will make or break your ability to build an impactful, fulfilling, and sustainable coaching business along the way.
When I first started out, I didn’t even think about the possibility of burn out - the thought of getting booked out in advance at all, let alone within the first six months just didn’t even come into my mind. So for the first year I was just not prepared for how intense and draining your work can become as a coach - especially if you’ve not intentionally built your routine to enable you to do your best work along the way.
I found myself overbooked, overworked, and stressed out and by November last year I found myself completely burned out. I knew I loved my work, it feeds my soul in ways I can’t even put into words, but I also knew that I couldn’t continue to sacrifice my wellbeing for my business and that something had to change.
Today I want to share with you how I have been building a more intentional, mindful, and healthy routine as a coach, and the advice I wish I knew when I first started out so I could have avoided burn out along the way.
1. Know your sweet spot when it comes to coaching sessions each week
After months of doing 15-18 coaching sessions most weeks, I knew something had to change. I was exhausted, I was missing out on my life by working all of the time, and I was losing the joy in my business because I was completely struggling with the workload and how much of myself I was giving to my work. As coaches, we all have a sweet spot of how many coaching sessions works best for us each week. It takes trial and error to figure it out - and finding a balance between how many you need to have to keep your business sustainable, and how many you can have until your lifestyle is no longer sustainable.
Sometimes it may mean raising your prices, or maybe opening up secondary income streams to alleviate the pressure on you to be coaching 1:1 all of the time. Pay attention to what feels good throughout the week and be okay with accepting your limit - because everyone has one. For me right now my sweet spot looks like 6-10 coaching sessions each week - knowing this means I can let my availability reflect this, and also prepare for any weeks when there may be a few more sessions than usual so I can still do my best work without feeling drained or burned out.
2. Schedule your work week in a way that works for you and your energy
Some coaches like to do just one or two sessions each day of the week. Others like to have scheduled days where they focus only on clients so the rest of the week can be prioritised for other tasks. When I first started out I found myself doing meetings any day of the week, whenever worked best for my clients. Once I started to get booked out though what I found myself with was a schedule that completely felt out of my control. I’ve learned over the months that I fall into the camp of preferring to have all my meetings over certain days so I can have the rest of the week to work on my business instead of always in it.
For the past few months I’ve been doing coaching sessions 4 days a week, however moving forward I’ll now only be doing 2-3 days of coaching sessions each week. I’m sharing this with you because it’s actually taken me four months to be able to transition into less days, so if you’re struggling with your schedule right now my best advice would be to look ahead and start making small steps towards a routine that will work better for you.
3. Get comfortable with setting boundaries (and maintaining them)
Setting boundaries as a coach has been one of my biggest struggles along the way. When you’re a big-hearted, purpose-driven creative your natural response will always be to do what’s best for your clients as you root for them so much along the way. But ultimately that can lead to burn out, so these past few months I’ve focused on giving myself permission to set more boundaries around my time and I’m so glad that I have.
Setting boundaries has looked like only having set days and times for coaching sessions, sticking to office hours with my inbox, and being very open and transparent with my clients about how my schedule works behind the scenes too. What’s been incredible so far is seeing my clients cheer me on along the way while I set more boundaries and take better care of myself in my business - what it’s shown me is that even as a coach when our work revolves around being of service to others, it’s still so important to take care of ourselves too and our clients will always respect that along the way.
4. Refuel, recharge, and re-centre often
As a coach, refuelling and recharging my mind feels as much as an essential in my business as marketing and working with my clients. It’s so important to me that I show up to each and every coaching session in the best headspace possible so I can give my clients 100%, and this just isn’t possible if I’m not taking the time to refuel, recharge, and re-centre throughout the week.
Practically how I do this is by only focusing on clients on the days in the week where I have coaching sessions. This means in-between calls I take breaks to relax and then have enough time to prepare for each session in advance - although this may feel like wasting precious hours throughout the day, I’ve actually found that it’s the most productive thing I can do for my business on client days throughout the week.
Other important things for me are prioritising sleep, taking the time to make healthy meals throughout the week, and taking at least one day each week away from work completely to relax and refuel. It’s taken me a long time to get to this place but I really do know now that as a coach how we take care of ourselves is just as important as taking care of our clients and our business too.
5. Take breaks away from client work throughout the year
Being constantly go-go-go as a coach cannot always be sustainable. Our minds need time to recharge, our business needs the space for us to focus on the bigger picture and vision, and we need to live and enjoy our lives along the way too. Giving myself permission this year to schedule in time away from client work was really hard at first - I struggled to lose the feeling of laziness even though I know for my business and work to thrive time off and away from coaching is necessary if I want to stay healthy and focused along the way. In 2016 I’m planning on taking around 10 weeks off throughout the year away from coaching - some weeks to focus on other areas of my business, other weeks to take time off altogether to travel or rest - and I know I’ll be so grateful come the end of the year to have prioritised this time for me and my business.
The secret here as a coach is to plan it in advance - that way you can let your clients know your schedule, and you can prepare your business for time-off too. Last year I learned that if I don’t schedule time off, it just won't happen.
These steps are all so simple, but I know how hard it can be as a coach to prioritise you as much as you do your clients and your business. Accepting that self-care and an intentional schedule is just as important in our business as working with our clients, marketing our services, and paying our taxes is how we can give ourselves permission to build a routine and a coaching business that allows us to do our best, most impactful, and meaningful work along the way.
Coaches, here’s my challenge to you: take care of yourself more. See how much more you can thrive by prioritising you as much as you do your clients and your business.
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