A year of big changes: coping with overwhelm, anxiety and grief

Hey there,

Hope all is well with you today.

It’s a little over a year since I left my day job to concentrate full time on starting Emerald and Lime. For this and other reasons, I feel like it’s the right time to reflect on the good things that have happened over the past year, as well as the almighty bumps along the way.

This isn’t all about the business. It’s a personal story – sadly without a happy ending, but with another new beginning and that’s never a completely bad thing. 🙂

Business first, though.

I’d wanted to leave my day job for a long time, but it took years – firstly to figure out what I wanted to do and then to get my plans in place to be able to do it. For me, the main purpose of making such a big change was to live a more integrated life, working hard while having the flexibility to focus, as necessary, on my other responsibilities. With my parents getting older and my boys approaching important exam years, I finally committed to the idea of a future with more freedom to concentrate on everything important to me – looking after my family, building something worthwhile for my children and doing something I enjoyed at the same time.

Before I go any further, I should say that I’m 100% glad I made the leap. It was certainly the right decision for me, I love having my own business and I wish I’d made the change years ago.

But…

It has been the most emotionally difficult year I’ve ever experienced.

Getting Emerald and Lime off the ground was a gargantuan task, the steepest learning curve and a very nerve racking adventure. I firmly believe now that any anxieties, self-doubt or worries a person has will well and truly show themselves if they decide to start a business. On more than one occasion I’ve wanted to close Em and Lime’s doors (the first time being the day I opened them), but I kept going, and will continue to do so, because fundamentally it’s still been one of the best things I’ve ever done.

I said that a big reason I started Em and Lime was to integrate working with my family responsibilities and the freedom to do this became so very much more important recently.

It’s now just over two months since we lost my dad. He died unexpectedly overnight in late February and I haven’t felt able to mention it online until now. We are working hard to get to grips with new routines and to reshape our lives with someone so pivotal missing.

Our wider family and friends were stunned but it is, of course, hardest of all for my mum who spent 60+ years of her life with him.

For my part, I’ve lost an adviser, my best banter-buddy and someone who meant the world to me. I’m still very up and down, but I reckon the only worthwhile way to look at it is that I’m lucky to have had him to lose.

We’re getting back on our feet (ish) but, unsurprisingly, it’s had a big impact on the way I’ll go forward from here, both generally and in my business. I’m going to make sure it does. It’s easy to become jaded and get lost in the day to day minutiae, whether it’s work or life in general,  but I reckon the only way to extract something positive from a sad life event is not to lose the clarity about what’s important that accompanies it.

In light of the whole year’s events, I’ve been thinking about what it would be a good idea for me to remember going into my second year of self-employment. These tips don’t just apply to business and I’ll be bearing in mind variations in other areas of my life too.

  1. Keep sight of the big picture

It’s so easy to get bogged down in some aspects of the day to day (did someone say Google Analytics? zzzzz) and there will always be something that knocks you off course but, if you keep reminding yourself why you started down a particular road, you’ll be able to keep a check on whether that reason is one that’s still important to you.

  1. Don’t let the path to the big picture overwhelm you.

Remember the big picture, but break down the steps to get there. Break them realllllly far down. At the moment I’m making monthly notes of small achievements because it would be too easy to dismiss them on the days when “build something worthwhile for the children” feels unattainable.

  1. Make peace with the fact that everything takes time and stick with it

You’d think I’d have known this already considering the length of time I’ve been writing to be published. I did know it really, but on a day-to-day basis it’s still frustrating. I have so many plans for Em and Lime, but only one pair of hands. Bummer. I’m working hard at focusing on one thing at a time, instead of trying to split my wee self between many different projects.

  1. Make positive changes

It won’t be a good day every single day, but unless overall you feel positive about the direction you’re going in, make a change. It doesn’t have to be a huge change, it just has to be a change for the better.

That sounds easier said than done.

It is, but what’s more important, really, is that it’s easier done than left undone.

  1. People are the most important thing

Not businesses, not getting published, not (*insert deep breath here*) notebooks.  😉

People.

Over the last few weeks, the number of people who have supported mum and me has been staggering. It’s humbling the care and concern that’s been shown for us and always a good thing to be reminded of the fundamental kindness of humans.

These are my reflections on a year of big changes. If you’re still with me, thank you so much for reading.

Onwards.

Elle xoxox

20 thoughts on “A year of big changes: coping with overwhelm, anxiety and grief

  1. I’m so sorry for your loss of your father, Elle. It’s still early days on the process of grieving so, as with all the other things you mention, take small steps and accept some of them will be backwards.

    Congratulations on the first year of Emerald and Lime. A great achievement. Enjoy that achievement.

    As for anxiety, kick that b***h’s ass and tell her to get back in her box. ( fellow sufferer talking ).

    Take care of yourself first, Elle, and remember your advice of small steps in everything.

    Onwards and upwards for you, the family and the business.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Anne. I really appreciate your comment. Yes, I’m trying to remember that small steps are still steps. And I like your advice on anxiety 😉

      Lovely to meet you in person at last on Saturday! Hope to catch up again some time soon x

      Like

  2. Oh, Elle, I’m so sorry to hear of your loss – such a difficult and often overwhelming time for you. Sending my heartfelt sympathies to you and your family.
    It’s certainly been a bumpy year for you. Congratulations on your business success and going out and doing something so positive.
    Much love, Sue. xx

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Elle, I want to give you the biggest hug! I’m so sorry to hear about your lovely dad and send you and your family my deepest sympathy and lots of love. I wish you even more success with Em & Lime going forward. Be very proud of yourself and your wonderful products. Anxiety is a b****r, but just know that we’re all here to support you. Love Jan xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  4. So sorry to hear about the loss of your father, Elle. Losing a parent is so hard (I lost my mum 15 years ago). Don’t forget to look after yourself-sometimes there are days when it hits you more than others-especially birthdays, anniversaries etc. I found that doing things which made me feel close to her helped, like visiting somewhere where we enjoyed going together, making a recipe that she made with the kids etc. Sending lots of love x

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Anita. We have a couple of birthdays coming up (mine and his) over the next couple of weeks so will try to think of something nice to do on these days. Thank you for getting in touch, I really appreciate it. xx

      Like

  5. So sorry to hear of your loss, Elle. My sympathies to you and your family.
    Wishing you every success with your business. Thank you for sharing such a heartfelt post.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. So sorry for your loss, Elle. I hope the anxiety is manageable. Good advice about making positive changes. Not every day will be a good day, but so long as there are more good ones than bad, you’re winning.
    Big hugs.
    Rhoda

    Liked by 1 person

I'd love to hear from you...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s