A JOURNEY TOWARDS MINDFUL ENTREPRENEURSHIP
by Julia Sillett Co-Founder of Crafted Communications
More than ever, we have the ability to create our own definitions of work. This new, flexible way of working is transforming the way we live, the kind of jobs we have, the spaces we work in and the way we do business together. We also seem to be forming a community around some shared values: spend less time commuting, get enough sleep, nourish your body, mind and spirit, shop ethically, listen to your intuition… the list goes on.
These values may seem like common sense, or perhaps even like little luxuries, yet, as I’ve integrated these building blocks into my business, their impacts have felt truly revolutionary. “Mindful entrepreneurship” has radically changed my life. At least, this is what I have been calling it over the last year since co-founding Crafted Communications, and as it turns out, there have been a lot of other people transforming their work lives in line with this idea too.
The Rise of Mindful Entrepreneurship:
There are a few ways you might be able to spot the groundswell of mindful entrepreneurship:
- In the rise of female entrepreneurs in Canada
- In the increasing focus on wellness in workplaces
- In trending hashtags like #CommunityOverCompetition
- In local businesses that are going far beyond transactions and offering value to their customers and communities through art, environmental sustainability or social change.
As a lover of words, these changes are incredible to me because of the way they’ve changed our cultural discussion around work. They’ve given me the vocabulary I needed to imagine a new way of working– one that could actually be good for my health.
Mindful Entrepreneurship in Practice:
While we were lucky to have lots of guidance and support while starting our business, it was when we turned inward to heal our work-related-wounds that our network grew. Even though common knowledge screams at us to keep hustling, it was when we slowed down that our business picked up. Despite a very specific picture of success being reinforced to us our entire lives, we’ve found abundance in being …or rather, trying to be… grounded and healthy people.
Every day brings new challenges as we try to stay dedicated to this business model of mindful entrepreneurship. We’ve done things well and we’ve also made mistakes. But here are three ways we’ve changed our relationship to work as entrepreneurs in the past year:
Giving ourselves (and our souls) attention:
An integral part of our daily routine has been working through Lacy Phillips’ workshops To Be Magnetic. Making a daily discipline of this energetic healing series has brought health to our minds, to our relationship as business partners and our work. It’s as simple as this: when we take time to reflect on our inner life, we are more productive in our work, we are more energetic during network events and we can move through the inevitable challenges of entrepreneurship with greater ease than we have ever known before.
This has been the single hardest lesson for me to learn, but I keep seeing proof every day that focusing on myself isn’t selfish – it’s the kindest thing I can do for myself, my partner, my clients and it’s certainly the most respectful way to honour the creative work I get to do every day.
We began with a promise that we would try to build a business without falling back into the trap of hustling, rushing and promising to do more than could fit into a healthy number of work hours. We’re still figuring out this tension, but we’ve learned the hard way that over-hustling quickly leads to burnout, procrastination and stagnancy. So, instead, we began experimenting with boundary setting. We learned what times of the day our brains are most awake, and what times of day our bodies need rest. We decided not to take meetings before 10 a.m. to protect our morning routines of meditation, yoga and taking our dogs for walks. We try not to check our inboxes on weekends (…most of the time). We’re always being challenged, but we’re also always paying attention and always learning from our mistakes. We’ve seen the benefits of scheduling our work with the intentions of self-care, producing quality work and building meaningful relationships and it’s given us all the validation we need to keep going.
Believing in Abundance:
Every story I’d ever told myself about work was rooted in scarcity: this job market is too competitive, I’ll never find a job, I’ll never make enough money to be independent, if I take a lunch break, they won’t think I’m working hard enough. I remember reading one of my favourite books, Anne of Green Gables and being struck by the line: “I don’t know what lies around the bend, but I’m going to believe that the best does.” It often reminds me that I can either live in fear of never having enough, or I can choose to believe that the universe wants to provide me with everything I need.
Undoing two decades of thought patterns doesn’t happen overnight, but it has been helpful for me to set intentions in everything I do. Scarcity seems to seep in much more easily when I’m rushing around, running on automatic. It’s when I take the time to set a purpose for the work, I’m doing that I can actually feel joy in my work and faith that it will serve the purpose I’ve set for it.
A Different Way of Working:
Recently, I came across a manifesto called “Proposals for the Feminine Economy” by Jennifer Armbrust, founder of Sister Feminist Business School. She puts language to this different way of working that doesn’t treat our bodies like machines, doesn’t treat our planet like it’s disposable and instead, generates abundance while operating from a place of authenticity. And again, a year into my business, I have language to talk about the intentions behind my work. This is what mindful entrepreneurship has given me, and it’s what inspires me about the community of creative business owners that surround us in Hamilton and Niagara. Everyone puts their own spin on it, because after all, we all need different things, but every time you make a choice to do your work with joy, and then go home and rest, you’re doing something incredibly subversive, life-giving and potentially inspiring for someone else.