My ‘Being Self Employed’ Journal #10 ~ Work To Live

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Imagine the scene; I'm sat propped up in my bed, my body still early-morning semi-comatosed and cosy warm, a cup of tea on my bedside table (and empty porridge bowl, thank you husband), a canopy of leaves is the view through my bedroom window, all shades of green as the sun filters it's way through the branches – branches that are bobbing up and down in the gentle morning breeze.  The familiar and comforting 'coo coooooo cooo' sound of collared doves and other beautiful morning birdsong is my soundscape – punctuated only occasionally by the 'moo' of a cow in a nearby field.  My children still sleeping blissfully in the room next door, my husband pottering about making more tea and running himself a bath. I feel rested and peaceful. A bit of a pinch-me moment.

Taking time to live life will only inspire your work
Image Credit: Pinterest

Quite a stark difference from the scene of five days ago when I found myself bedraggled (sans makeup and with three day old hair dragged back from my face in the most untidy of buns) physically holding down my two year old daughter (with the aid of two other nurses – and we struggled!) in a hospital examination room as a Consultant tried to examine her tired, tiny, exhausted little body.

"It is highly likely you'll be required to stay over night…."

Cue frustrated head scratching, bottom lip biting, heavy sighs and sears of mild panic.

"But I'm self employed, I have to work, I can't just drop everything. Um, I mean, yes of course, I realise the health of my daughter is paramount, but, but………"

Gather hastily assembled 'potential' overnight bag back up from the floor. And re-gather it again once after half the poorly packed contents spill out on to the floor. And then my daughter starts screaming. Bag. Daughter.  Bag? Daughter? ……..marbles! Where are my marbles?! Someone please come and take this all away, pleeeease, I'm a very busy person, I run my own business and I just can't do this, I've got blog posts to write!

A pretty different kind of scene, hey?

That one night in hospital ended up being three nights.  And also, possibly, the very best thing that could have happened to me in a long long while.

I guess that like most other self employed folk, I 'give it my all'.  Gone are the days you might have been able to pull a sicky if you weren't feeling quite that brilliant (or mildly hungover – come on, we've all done it). Nope. Once  you're self employed, there are no sick days available I'm afraid. And you will still have to work when you're hung over too. Let that be a warning.

Trouble is, 'giving it your all' when it comes to managing your own business means you have little else to give once the work is done. Well, it's never really 'done' is it, but you know what I mean.  I had been giving it my all for months.  Book launches, weekend after weekend out working to promote and sell my book, train trip and after train trip to spend time networking in London and that's before I've even worked 18 hours each day facing my computer screen, because, I'm simply 'too busy', don't you know.

Too busy, it would appear, to be noticing my life rapidly passing me by as I immersed myself in a world of 'I'VE JUST GOT TO GET THIS DONE!'.

'What day does your eldest daughter do P.E.?'. 

More head scratching.   My husband boring a hole in between my eyes with his expectant stare….

'Um…. Friday? It's Friday'.

'It's Thursday.  What book is she reading right now?'


How had I become so disconnected? 

As I sat in the (surprisingly comfortable) wooden armchair adjacent to my daughter's hospital bed this week, watching her sleeping peacefully, I felt my heart ache with a sense of how much I loved her and want to protect her and enjoy every little moment of her growing up.  In that moment, I chose to reflect on my personal work/life balance.  And that's when it hit me.  For so long now, my life has has to fit around work. Blog first. Book first. Weekend working. Evening working. No. Time. For. Anything. Else. Ever. 

This week however, work simply had to fit around life.

I bloody love my job. I find it fulfilling and rewarding and I would recommend to anyone in an instant to venture in to becoming self-employed.  Becoming my own boss has opened up a whole new world of opportunity for me. There is no denying it is one of the best things I ever did in my life. But I did it to enhance my life, not compromise on quality.

Being thrust in to a situation of which I had no control this week took me right out of my comfort zone. But it has also given me the biggest kick up the backside ever. One I have needed in a good long while now.  I'm not naive, I know that work will continue to be busy and at times stressful, but I'll be working a little differently from here on. I'll still be as committed as I was to being the best business person I can be, but I'll be fulfilling this commitment as part of a much more balanced lifestyle.  Better sleep, better, more effective and efficient use of time. A healthier diet, quality time with my family each evening and at weekends. And, did someone say date night?

Letting your job pervade and take over every aspect of your life is an easy trap to fall in to when you work for yourself and especially when you are so passionate about what you do.  My dear husband and friends have been telling me this for months, but I'm one of those people who has this rather annoying filter that often blocks out the advice that those closest to me are trying to pass on. 

I believe that being busy can be a good sign! An indication your business is in
demand, but it can also be a not-so-good sign – a sign you aren't coping or
managing your time as efficiently as you could be or looking after yourself.  Be the right kind of busy. Please, if you are reading this and feel that it's all getting a bit too much, take a step back and leave the computer alone for today. That one blog post can wait.  That invoice can be sent out tomorrow. Work/life balance is vital but especially so if you are self-employed. Sleep well, eat well, live, laugh, love well. Work to live and equip yourself to be able to deal with real life when it threw a curve ball at you – because that's the shit that really matters.

Perspective gained. Factory settings and balance restored.

And my little girl? She's as bright as a button 🙂 It's amazing how quickly little people bounce back.  Thank god for amazing NHS staff who looked after us both so well.

I'm off now to finish my tea and porridge and enjoy the precious company of my beautiful little family.  And maybe do a little school homework too 😉

Have you learned something new this week?

Have a beautiful day everyone,




PS – you can read more of my personal musings and being self-employed/business posts.

PPS – Franky and I have some pretty exciting plans ahead for you all – keep an eye out for some exciting new annoucements being made soon! 🙂


Annabel View all Annabel's articles

Founder of Love My Dress. Passionate Podcaster and Editor. Annabel lives in rural North Yorkshire with her husband and business partner Philip, their two daughters and menagerie of furry hounds. She loves photography, meditation, walking, being outdoors and star gazing. She is fierce when it comes to championing talent within the wedding industry and when she's not working on Love My Dress, she supports her husband Philip in the running of the family's sustainable flower farm and floral design business, Moonwind Flowers. In 2013, she became a published author.

17 thoughts on “My ‘Being Self Employed’ Journal #10 ~ Work To Live

  1. Here here Annabel. Don’t let “fulfilling the dream” become another form of treadmill or millstone round the neck. Your family are forever. Brave and bold move to say what you have on your blog but that’s the freedom of being self employed.

  2. Such an easy trap to fall in to. I may be judged for what I’ve said but I’ve always been completely honest on these pages and that’s the only way I know/like it.
    Thank you lovely. Here’s to running our businesses intelligently and in a way that will enhance our lives so much for the better.
    I LOVE being self employed 🙂

  3. Dear Annabel,
    What a moving & honest post this morning.
    I am so glad your little girl is feeling much better.
    Its so easy to let our work become all consuming – something my Husband and I are also both guilty of. We know it too.
    Some times it takes something scary & horrible like this to make you realise that you do need to take a step back & access the priorities in your life.
    The days go so quickly – blink and another year has gone by!
    Family time & ‘me’ time are important too.
    My ‘me’ time is reading your blog 🙂
    Hope you & your beautiful family have a lovely lazy Sunday.
    Best wishes,
    D x

  4. Dear Annabel
    Thank-you so much for writing this honest, from the heart post. Everything you have written resonates with me as a self-employed Mum. It’s helped me gain perspective at a time when I am too feeling ‘so busy’. I found myself in hospital a few weeks back strapped to a heart machine. Like you, it took that experience to give me some time for perspective. Hospital wards are good at that. Luckily we have time, and healthy, happy kids to make it right. Keep writing from the heart and enjoy today.x

  5. Goodness Paula, I do hope you are OK? You are so right though, it (sadly!) far too often takes an experience like this to jolt us back to reality and remind us of what we’re missing out on.
    Sending you love this Sunday xXx

  6. So glad to hear that your daughter is doing a lot better – kids are so incredible at bouncing back, as you say! So much of running ourselves ragged has to do with the insanely high benchmarks we set for ourselves – getting something do by x time, at x quality, even if no-one else is even aware of them! Here’s to more quality time with who is important

  7. I had a similar experience four weeks ago, working full time, looking after a toddler, redocorating the house, doing the garden, setting us a small venture in my ‘spare’ time, oh and being seven months pregnant too and my body just gave up and gave me the biggest, scariest wake up call ever! When told by my midwife I HAD to rest or spend the remainder of my pregnancy potentially bed-ridden I just freaked, what about work?, what the house?, what about the…..oh the list goes on and on, but then I was in a situation where I absolutely HAD to listen, having spent almost a week in and out of hospital hooked up to machines I realised how insignificant these things are really in the grand scheme of things. Then the guilt creeps in, guilt of not been a good enough Mummy to my little boy or my growing baby – the problem is we all put such high expectations on ourselves and yes sometimes we ‘forget’ what is really important, our families, our health and well-being but life has a way of reminding us every now again, hence why I’m enjoying a bit of ‘me’ time while the toddler sleeps, with a cup of tea and some chocolate and reading your ever inspiring blog x

  8. Love this Anabel! I totally had this a couple of weeks ago, when I realised that I hadn’t seen any of my friends for around 6 weeks… It just seemed so easy to forget life and just work… I think what I realised was that there’s a whole bunch of stuff you can do I business, that’s just ‘being busy’ and sure it helps build the business, but it’s stuff that isn’t as important as family and friends 😉

  9. Thank you so much for taking time to Comment Dee, I really appreciate it.
    I really am trying to invest in to creating a better balance that will ultimately only make me work more efficiently and be able to enjoy precious family time too.
    Good luck to you in achieving the same my friend, and I hope you had a lovely weekend 🙂

  10. Crikey, Cath, I do hope you are all OK now though and that you are continuing to take good rest?
    Don’t feel guilty! Rejoice in the fact your baby is well and so are you now, thank goodness.
    I hope the rest of your pregnancy continues with no more scary moments, lots of love and luck to you Cath,
    Annabel xXx

  11. It’s true! I am looking forward to seeing one of my good friends soon – it was only when my husband pointed out I’d not rang her in MONTHS that I dropped her a line the other day suggesting we meet soon as I missed her.
    So important to try to keep sight of who and what is important when we’re all so busy xXX

  12. I think it’s fair to say the majority of self-employed people will go through this at some point. I will hold my hands up and say yep I’ve been there and I can 100% empathise with you.
    Going self-employed is definitely the best thing I ever did and again I would agree with you on that point, but it is also the most challenging and often times heartbreaking, soul-destroying and downright exhausting thing anyone can ever do. You are responsible for everything, YOU alone and this can be as terrifying as it is empowering. When you give it your all and it doesn’t quite work, when you commit the majority of your time to your business and lack time for the proper things in life that make all the hard work worthwhile, well it does blur the lines of reality. I’ve definitely been there, the 18-hour days, solidly working for weeks on end without a day off. I committed myself to my business and whilst it paid off for me in terms of seeing my business grow, seeing the hard work come to fruition as clients knock on my door wanting to work with me, it’s fair to say every other aspect of my life suffered as a result.
    Health, relationships, happiness. It was a hard price to pay for success. At the end of last year I had to make some drastic decisions to get off this treadmill I had created for myself and change my life back to the one I had imagined for so long when I was that 9-5-er looking for the exit. I prioritised – did I really need to write 10 blog posts a week to help my wedding planning business grow – NO, I refocused – what am I best at? designing, creating and working with clients, so why not spend all my time doing just that? I also realised what I needed to do to help my business grow in the future and as much as the decisions have been difficult ones, I’ve made the changes, I’ve pulled back on all those things that seem important at first (a complete cutdown on social media, not working past 7pm at night and taking TWO whole days off a week!!) but really in the grand scheme of things, sure I want to be successful, I want to wake up every morning loving life and loving what I do, but when when it comes down to wealth over health I’d choose the latter every time.
    I do hope your baby girl is on the mend and pleased you’ve had this kick up the booty, we all need one every now and then.
    Michelle xx

  13. Wow, what a wake up call! I love the line “Sleep well, eat well, live, laugh, love well.” No matter what we do as Mummies, we always end up feeling like we are not doing enough, so we might as well make sure that the enough is where it really counts – with our families and making sure we remain human as well!
    I hope you are still managing to stick by your new-found regime 🙂

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