Dear Brit: 'I'm Hustling and Love It! But My Boyfriend Has a Fulltime Job and Wants to Relax Nights and Weekends. How Do I Handle This?' In her new advice column for 'Entrepreneur,' Brit Morin doles out guidance on maintaining stable relationships on the roller coaster of entrepreneurship - with your partner, and yourself. Plus, she flips the script on "impostor syndrome."
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Brit Morin was 25 when she left Google to start Brit + Co, a lifestyle and education company aimed at helping women cultivate creative confidence. Now — 10 years, $50 million in funding and 1.2 billion pageviews later — Brit's passion is empowering more women to take the entrepreneurial leap. She's a managing partner at VC fund Offline Ventures, host of iHeartRadio podcast Teach Me Something New, creator of a 10-week start your own business course for women founders called "Selfmade," and, most recently — Entrepreneur advice columnist. Find her here twice a month on Thursdays, answering the most personal and pressing questions of women entrepreneurs. Have a question for Brit? Email it to Dearbrit@brit.co and she could answer it in an upcoming column!
Head over heels in love… with work?
Dear Brit: I'm hustling and I love it! But my boyfriend works a typical 9-6 job and wants to spend nights and weekends relaxing. He thinks he's doing me a favor by telling me to take a break, but it's not helpful when I need to get shit done! How do you make this work when one of you is an entrepreneur and the other isn't?
Balancing work and relationships is a challenge for anyone (all the more so now in the WFH days). My husband is an entrepreneur and investor as well (we co-founded Offline Ventures together), but he still expresses demands similar to those you've brought up. Nights and weekends are sacred to him, especially since we've both faced burnout many times in our careers. Plus, we have two little boys. It's a lot.
So I know how tough it can be! Here are some tactics I use:
Protect your mornings! My husband knows these hours are sacred to me. Often I use them for working out or meditating before a big day, but if I'm behind on work I'll also carve out a couple hours in the a.m. to catch up. No one — not even my kids — knows I'm doing it because they're all still sleeping, so I'm not worried that I'm taking time away from family. Plus, I feel extra productive when I can get ahead of my day!
Communication is key. When my husband knows the why behind my occasional need to work into the night, he gives me the grace I need to do so in peace. It helps when it's not a regular occurence, and I've communicated that it may need to happen a day or two in advance. Sometimes I'll also "trade" him for something in return: a special date night later that week, a night where I let him go do something on his own while I watch the kids, a back massage, etc. I don't think it needs to be a quid pro quo like this every time, but it definitely helps to ensure that he feels equally important as my work.
Have you ever heard of a "Think Week?' It's a relatively new trend I've seen entrepreneurs doing where they designate one week out of every month (or quarter) as their "heads down" week. No meetings, no socializing. Often they go somewhere remote by themselves to clear their heads and do deep focus work. With two young kids and the lack of childcare during Covid I haven't had the chance to do this myself yet. But it's certainly something I would recommend to those who can.
Steadying yourself in the storm
Dear Brit: There are so many ups and downs in entrepreneurship. How do you bring a sense of neutrality to the rollercoaster ride?
This is such a great question, and something that I struggled with for years when I was first learning the ropes of entrepreneurship. In a single day, I could have five amazing things happen and five awful things happen. The emotional rollercoaster is real.
In the early years of Brit + Co, I would get very caught up in the ups and downs of every day. Especially with a business that I put my name on, it's easy to take criticism personally or to feel responsible when anything goes badly. But I've learned to stay focused on our mission of igniting creativity and empowering women. Over time I've learned to think of it like a wave chart: For every high (peak), there is inevitably a low (valley). Sometimes the highs will last longer and sometimes the lows will last longer. It is important to draw a line of equilibrium in your head and stay there as often as possible.
This means that yes, you should absolutely savor the wins. But don't get overly excited because there will almost certainly be a higher mountain to climb. This also means that you should learn from the lows, but don't stew too long because the only way forward is up. I joke with my friends that I've become the most apathetic person in the world after being an entrepreneur for over a decade. I'm like a sponge, absorbing the emotions but not letting them soak through to my core.
Running a business will always mean experiencing high-highs, and low-lows, but if you keep working hard and staying true to your mission, everything will work itself out.
Get a chip on your shoulder
Dear Brit: As a mental health professional, I've worked with many successful and strong women who suffer from imposter syndrome — which can really prevent them from reaching their goals. What are some tools or resources for women entrepreneurs who suffer from imposter syndrome?
I feel you. More than a decade into my entrepreneur journey, I'm still navigating this! We all experience gaps in our confidence from time to time. It's completely normal.
Imposter syndrome is that feeling when you doubt your skills and accomplishments, and are afraid of being exposed as a fraud. It happens to men and women, but women — due to our cultural constructs — tend to experience it more often.
Usually we think of imposter syndrome as a negative mentality, but I think there's a way for it to manifest positively. Most people who have a "chip on their shoulder" — as in, they feel like they have something to prove — probably suffer from imposter syndrome. But they find a way to make it work for them. This can mean: faking it till you make it (in the right ways, like conveying assurance about what you're doing — not committing acts of fraud Elizabeth Holmes-style, obviously). This type of thinking helps you show up to meetings with confidence, sell the big picture to investors and recruits before you've actually accomplished it, and more. I want women to lean into this kind of imposter syndrome.
But if you're struggling with the negative form of imposter syndrome — e.g. a heavy ego that is mixing you up in a toxic set of relationships and a crippling sense of fear and self-doubt — then that is a problem to solve… and it starts with your mindset.
Entrepreneurship is a balance of confidence and humility. You must express a combination of both, and recognize that different sets of circumstances call for different reactions. When you make a mistake or fail, own up to it, but then put your hand back on the wheel and lay out a vision of how you will move forward with confidence. In entrepreneurship, there are bumps in the road every single day. The difference between those who survive and those who do not is the willingness to stand back up, and take the next step forward.
Also, please remember, we're all at different points in our journeys. With 24/7 access to unlimited highlight reels on social media, it's easy to slip down the slope of insecurity. When I start questioning myself, I pause and examine my mindset. I also lean into my mantras: "it's not about me," and "just keep moving." Keeping up momentum helps me to not get caught up in thoughts about what other people are doing, or that I'm not enough, and don't belong.
I also surround myself with reminders of previous accomplishments. It's easy to keep a list of wins on your phone screen, for example. Then, when you need a pep talk, you're ready to celebrate yourself. And if you spend some time now — at the start of the year — focusing on mindset and growth, you'll have plenty of reasons to celebrate as your goals become reality.
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