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It feels good to be in that flow state of getting things done, being slightly ahead of the game, and ticking tasks off your to-do list on time or before they need to be done. It carries with it the reassurance that you, dear entrepreneur, have your life together.
But every so often, a curveball comes along. Something unexpected arrives that forces you to put everything else on hold. These can be normal life-shifting occurrences, like the loss of a loved one or the birth of a child. They can also be less normal things like a debilitating injury or your best friend’s husband bailing on a trip to Hawaii and, surprise, a free ticket for you!
Here comes the curveball again.
I may have curveball PTSD after the last time it happened. However, this curveball arrived, thankfully, in a celebratory fashion. Recently, I got engaged in London! On the heels of that trip, my best friends from Australia came to New York to visit. It was a festive whirlwind of daydreaming about the future and catching up with good friends. The business took a back seat.
As much as I enjoyed every minute, life felt chaotic. I felt chaotic. It felt like I was always behind, constantly playing catch up, delaying what needed to be done. I went seven whole weeks without my stabilizing morning practice. Life was “life-ing,” and I just sat back and let it do its thing.
Related: 4 Keys to Operating in Chaos
To guilt or not to guilt?
There was a time when I might have looked back on this phase and felt guilty. “How irresponsible!” I would have thought to myself. I’ve seen this happen with managers in my pre-entrepreneurial years. They’d take off for vacation, allow themselves to completely and blissfully disconnect, then come storming back into the office as though they had a debt of responsibility to pay.
Rather than falling into that pointless cycle of guilt — I paused and thought about it. I just got engaged. That’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing. It’s an experience to cherish, and I wanted to be in it. My friends flew halfway across the world to see me. I needed to nourish that connection because it doesn’t always happen. There’s only one of me. It’s impossible to live in two places at once.
Practicing what I’m preaching
A few months back, I wrote an article about this very dichotomy. I was offering advice to my fellow entrepreneurs about how to show up in both their personal and professional lives. When I wrote that article, it came from a place of reflection. Now, here I am in the thick of it, trying to re-enter my professional flow state after nearly two months of leaning into my personal life.
I’ve realized that there is a way to make space for disruptions responsibly. You see, I’ve already done the work. There are systems in place in my company. Everyone knows what to do when Ginni leaves the building. I’ve delegated and given my team a full vote of confidence that I trust them to make good decisions in my absence. And you know what? Nothing fell apart.
Consistency is hard, and showing up doesn’t mean giving 110% every day, all the time. It’s also about daring to pause. It’s accepting that disruptions are a part of life. You can sit more calmly with the inner chaos when you know you’re not carrying the load alone.
When it’s time to swing back into your flow at work, recalibrate bit by bit. Have one-on-one conversations with your team members to catch up. Listen before you start shooting off emails just to feel productive. Ease back into your orbit gently.
The team you’ve built matters
How you respond when disruptions stake their claim on your time is telling. It’s a good measure of the team you’ve built and a reflection of how much you trust their capacity to handle things when you need to be tending to the personal.
So, let’s stop pretending that we can clone ourselves. Let’s stop feeling guilty for life-ing. Hire well, delegate what you can, and trust your team. Your mental health, your personal relationships, and your company will be better for it.