In October 2011, Occupy Wall Street was going gangbusters – and so was my business. But while the protesters were filled with passion and purpose, I was exhausted, in pain, and half-bald.
This was my entrepreneurial crisis, the kind that results from growing your business so rapidly, you can’t keep up. Medically speaking, it was adrenal fatigue – after working 16-hour days for months on end, those cortisol-popping pods atop my kidneys simply went on strike, leaving me with searing back pain, hives, acid reflux, anemia, hair loss, and a foggy brain.
I wasn’t proud of this. I know some entrepreneurs think it’s really badass to work yourself into a physical or mental breakdown, but for me, it was clear my priorities were askew. Yes, I was proud of my success – particularly as a single woman and a self-employed writer. I’d won Fortune 100 clients, made six figures, and bought a house all by my lonesome. But then there was that: my lonesome. I had no life and no love.
I went back to why I started my business: I wanted to write to live, not live to write. I wanted to do great work, but I’d never wanted to scale the business – or my life. So I scaled back. I sold my house, donated half of my belongings, and let go of toxic clients. Suddenly, I could breathe. I didn’t have to take work that drained me. I could focus on clients who were a great fit. I could have time for a run, a read, a rendezvous (in case you’re wondering, yes, I found love).
These days, I run a business filled with passion and purpose – on my own terms. I don’t rule the world, but I rule my life. That’s what success means to me. And I think it’s pretty badass.
Nicole Christie is a writer and storyteller who splits her time between Seattle and Montreal. She is also the principal and creative director of NICO, Inc.―a one-woman firm specializing in fresh, honest, engaging employee and marketing communications for Fortune 500 corporations, leading-edge creative firms, and rapidly growing new technology companies. You can soak up her solopreneur wisdom at http://nicolechristie.com/.