Hearing Voices: The Entrepreneurial Guilt Dilemma

Marshall Mathers, feeling no guilt. #goals

Do you have a song that’s always stuck in your head? Mine is “Guilty Conscience” by Eminem and Dr. Dre. It makes sense that this is my mind’s default song, because I’m awesome at feeling guilty. I was a double major in Guilt and Worry, and not to brag, but I graduated summa cum laude.

Guilt is a shitty feeling. It’s been a longtime companion in my personal life, asking me questions like “Why did you eat that?,” “You’re going to buy that shirt you don’t need?,” “Did you just skip a workout because you’re tired?” I’ve learned to mostly mute the guilt voice in my personal life because it’s been with me since childhood, but my Work Life Guilt voice is newer, louder and harder to quiet. She’s the brash younger sister of Personal Life Guilt, and she is resilient.

Work Life Guilt (WLG for short, and because it bothers her when people don’t use her full name) comes at me hard whenever I’m not working. When I sleep in, she’s on me the second I open my eyes. “Good morning, Lazy!” When I’m spending time with family or friends, she’s all “Don’t worry about checking your phone. Drinking tequila and catching up is much more important than running a business.” Even when I’m at home, wanting to crash after a long day, she’s there. “You’re going to read a non-business book when you have EMAILS IN YOUR INBOX? You disgust me.”

I know WLG doesn’t add anything to my life. There is nothing that she says that motivates me or makes me feel good. She is unnecessary, always wrong and honestly, her foundation shade is way off, which offends me as a makeup artist. I’ve been arguing with her a lot, and in some cases, I’m winning. If you want to know my strategies, read on.

Sleeping In. WLG thinks I should be up at 5:00am every day, working until my eyes close. I disagree. If I have a morning appointment, I set my alarm. But if I don’t have a morning commitment, I sleep until I wake up naturally. When WLG says “Are you for real right now? It’s 8:24am!” I say “Yup. My body wanted to sleep until now. I am a bad business owner, makeup artist and person in general when I’m sleep deprived, so this was worth it.” It’s easiest for me to quiet WLG in this situation because being well rested directly impacts my job productivity (and patience), so I feel justified.

Friend & Family Time. If you asked WLG, she would tell you friends are not important (my guess is she doesn’t have many) and family is stuck with you no matter how much you work. But I like being with my people. In fact, spending lot of time with them was one of my two main goals when I opened my company. When WLG says “I can’t believe you made dinner plans with Machaela when you have New Hire paperwork to do!,” I tell her to shut it. I remind her that I’ve been busting my ass for a decade and there is nothing wrong with having a dinner date. WLG and I both know that I will do work before and after I see my homegirl, and my business will not fall apart in three hours. WLG usually creeps in while I’m with my friend or relative, but I try to push her away. (The tequila is helpful with this.) I’ve found the best way to silence her in this scenario is to have a few solid productive hours before I have personal plans, so I don’t feel like work is being dangled in front of me by WLG’s demon-like hands.

Personal Time.  The work day has to come to an end, right? Sometimes mine ends at 10:00pm, other times it has a soft end at 4:00pm. (That means I mostly stop working for the day, but address time sensitive issues that arise.) My favorite way to end my work day is by hanging out with a friend or relative, but that doesn’t always happen. Sometimes it ends with me reading a book, watching a comedy special or deciding to re-arrange my bedroom for no reason. WLG is very loud during these times, and she often wins. I’m doing my best to believe and stick to my argument that no one should be working every waking moment, and I deserve and need time to re-charge. This is my most challenging argument with WLG, but I’m making progress.

One of my goals for 2018 is to silence WLG for good. If you have your own WLG, I hope you can get rid of your’s too. Let’s let Guilty Conscience be nothing more than a classic Em and Dre hit.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

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3 thoughts on “Hearing Voices: The Entrepreneurial Guilt Dilemma

  1. This post hits home for me, although I’ve never really thought of it as guilt. I just think of it as a consequence of being a workaholic. I silence mine by having a to do list. Once I get those items ticked off, there’s really nothing “she” can say to interfere with my day. Even when I end up taking an unplanned half day off, I’m pretty confident in my ability to catch up– her insecurities, be damned. Like you, I’m a business owner.

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