How to Start or Grow a Business or Ministry While Navigating Chronic Illness

It’s hard enough to be a mom when life throws a chronic illness or mental health issue our way. It feels downright overwhelming.

And, how much more so when we are also trying to launch or grow a business. Maybe one that allows us to be home with our kids, and build a schedule that works for us. Or, maybe one that we really have a passion/connection with. (Or both.)

So, if you’re out there wondering how do I start or grow a business while also navigating chronic illness or mental health issues? then, you’re in the right place.

Because, so many of us want to be living our dream life, but I want to tell you:
Your dream life is already here, just waiting for you to show up.

Even if you’re a mom. Even if you’re the boss. Even if you have chronic illness or mental health issues. Even if everything feels extremely overwhelming. Your dream life is already here. You just need to show up for it.

Let’s dive into starting and growing a business (or ministry) while navigating all the things: motherhood, working from home, chronic illness, mental health issues, the insanity of the world as it is this year…

PRIORITIZE

One of the most important things to do if you are starting or growing a business while navigating things like motherhood, chronic physical or mental illness, or just the overwhelm of life, is to prioritize. Prioritizing tasks is essential if we are going to stay afloat in everything and help prevent burn out. If you read my last post, I do this by setting a “TOP 3” for every day. This top 3 could be related to business, or my home, or the kids, but it’s the top 3 things that have to get done that day.

Another way to do this is to set up a schedule that allows for time batching, time blocking, or a specific work time. Want to know how my husband and I manage this? I’ll have some more on this coming soon. When we set our schedule up in such a way, we set ourselves up for success.

Using these systems, whichever work for you, you break everything down into manageable tasks, which can also reveal where you can delegate tasks or outsource tasks as needed.

BUILD IN BUFFERS

If you are managing a chronic physical or mental illness, flare ups and episodes are bound to happen. You have to build in rest buffers and breaks for yourself. If you are starting a business for money and time freedom, working 24/7 is not a way to get any kind of freedom. You need to make sure you have times of rest built in to your plan.

As I’m writing this, it’s a Thursday evening. I did not do step one of this advice well in this season of life, and stacked Thursdays against myself (that all changes starting next week). But, one thing I did do well, is building in buffers. As it stands, Thursdays are my longest work days. But, I have a break at lunch and around dinner, and then I finish by 7pm. There are also 15 minute pockets throughout the day I get a bit of a reprieve. My husband and I have also built in a buffer on Fridays where I get a bit more rest, because right now, Thursdays trigger a massive fibro flair.

If we aren’t flexible, and don’t build in buffers, our minds and bodies have no time to recover. No one can sustain this – let alone someone with an illness of some kind.

KNOW YOUR TRIGGERS

When you are dealing with chronic health issues, there are often triggers for flair ups and episodes. Knowing what these are can help you be flexible when they arise, or help you avoid them all together. We learned quickly when this crazy schedule started (about six weeks ago), that Thursdays are a massive flair trigger. We quickly adapted our plans for that Friday buffer. But, I also know, if I am unable to make through an entire Thursday in my office, I can move to the bed (yes, I can and have and do work from bed, if the need arises).

Knowing your triggers also helps you avoid them. Once this round of classes ends, we know now that teaching 7 classes in one day is beyond my limit. I know to avoid that. It also helps me know not to schedule my fullest work day (or my husband’s, at that), on Friday or Saturday, otherwise, there’s no way I will have the ability to do church on Sunday. When we can avoid our triggers, we are able to prioritize better, and build in those buffers.

COMMUNITY & CONNECTIONS

If you’re a mom, running a business or ministry, and navigating life’s overwhelm, you’re going to want an understanding community around you. This will include your team, your consumers (customers/clients/etc), and family. We, as mom’s running the world, will need flexibility, breaks, and sometimes, changes in schedule. If you don’t have an understanding community around you, this will be quite difficult for you.

Your story shouldn’t exclude what’s going on for you, but rather should embrace it. I don’t hide my chronic illnesses or mental health struggles from my clients. It is exactly these struggles that helps me relate to other moms, especially those who also deal with these kinds of struggles. Once it becomes part of the message of our business, it helps us attract the community and connections that will be gracious and flexible with us.

And, the only way we can build a successful business or a ministry that reaches people where they’re at, is by being honest, open, and vulnerable, so that our people can also meet us where we’re at.

TAKE CARE OF YOUR WHOLE SELF

Taking care of your whole self means tending to your mind, body, and spirit. Each of these requires fuel and nourishment in their own way. Balanced eating (this includes the stuff we like, but may not be “good for us”), water, sleep, practical self-care, alone time. Tending to our needs is the first step in being able to meet others’ needs.

We can’t serve others from a place of emptiness and depletion. If we are going to build our business, build in buffers, and give our people the best we have to offer, we need to be taking care of our whole selves.

FINALLY, LOTS OF GRACE FOR ALL

Grace for ourselves, and grace for others. We’re all doing the best we can. Some days, we don’t live up to our own expectations. Some days we don’t live up to others’ expectations, and sometimes, others don’t live up to our expectations.

That’s where grace comes in. We should be willing to give ourselves the same grace we’d give others or hope they’d give us. And, we should be giving it to others.

Of course, there are the nut’s and bolts of business ownership: the funnels, the marketing, the clients, the money, etc. But, if we don’t get these things in order, it will feel almost impossible to start or grow a business while navigating motherhood and chronic illness/mental health issues, or even just while navigating motherhood and just the overwhelm of daily life.

I can tell you, though, that even when it might feel impossible, it’s not. And, your dream life is already here.

Want to know if you’ve already got these things down and you’re ready to start or grow your business? Take the ARE YOU SHOWING UP FOR YOUR DREAM LIFE QUIZ and find out. When you take it, I’ll let you know if you’ve got this stuff all figured out, or if you’re ready to get going, and I’ll outline next steps for whatever level of readiness you are.

Take the quiz today!

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