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Although we might like to think that our businesses are independent from our private lives, the reality is often different. We are human beings after all. We have private lives, our health impacts how we function in our business and it is hard to draw a line between the two. Why should we have to anyway?

So what can we do when we are facing hardship in our private lives? How can we continue to be functional in our businesses? I have interviewed recently Joy Fairhall, a grief specialist and positive psychologist about my memoir, My Father Who Art in Heaven, which retraces two years of my life where I supported my parents through my father’s battle with a brain tumour and the eighteen months that followed.

More recently, I have been involved in a car accident that left me in constant physical pain, unable to do things that I took for granted before, such as sitting at a desk.

So how to we navigate this new and often unwanted terrain?

The first step is to accept the situation and do an action plan to cut out everything that is not essential. This can actually be a blessing in disguise because when everything goes well in our lives, we tend to be more complacent. We allow others to act out more. We blur our boundaries. When hardship strikes, we have to become more assertive. We have to learn to say no. Maybe that client that always goes over her allocated time or is always late will have to learn to stick to the schedule. And if she is not happy, a new client with more respect for your time will come.

The second step is to learn to delegate and accept help. This is not as easy as it seems but when hardship strikes, we need to have a long hard look at what we do, and challenge whether this is really our job or if it is someone else’s. Accepting help can also be hard. There is an art in how to do so gracefully. The first thing to remember is that everyone will need help at one point in their lives and that it is not humiliating per se. We make it so. The second thing is that we have to be crystal clear what kind of help we want. The people who come to help have to respect your needs. Just because you are put in a position of needing help does not mean that they overpower you. When we did not have a car, after our car accident, I only accepted lifts from people who made me feel safe in their car. It was tricky to set those boundaries in place without hurting people’s feelings but there was no point me having a panic attack by accepting to be driven by someone who did not drive safely.

The third step is to realise that the world can wait and do just what is important. I love the work of Steve Covey, author of the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Hardships will force you to be more effective. In his book, Steve Covey offers a brilliant time management tool with four quadrants: urgent and important, important and not urgent, not important and urgent and not important and not urgent. We tend to put the not important and urgent at the forefront of our lives. For example, we constantly check our emails, or always answer the phone when it rings. This disrupts our lives in unnecessary way. If we don’t put what is important but not urgent on the top of our priority list, then we end up firefighting all the time. We need to learn to prioritise. For example, as business owners, we can tend to put our health on the bottom of our priority list. We eat on the run because we have to much to do. Or we burn the candle at both ends by neglecting our sleep. Until one day, our health catches up with us and we are hit by a crisis. Why wait for the crisis?

If you would like to hear an interview of Joy Fairhall about all those aspects that matter, and how to deal with grief and loss, head over to my podcast #HighVibeMonday in iTunes or listen with the player below.

(c) Ange de Lumiere

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