Virtual Assistant Dream or Nightmare?

Last year I set myself some personal challenges – not New Year resolutions btw. Around springtime I sat myself down and spent some time reflecting on why I started my business and how far I had come because I was feeling tired and uninspired. 

The good news was that after 20 years, I was still trading. According to some of my friends and associates, that was me being successful. 

The not so good news was that I felt like I’d spent most of the last 20 years of running my business in what I call ‘survival mode’. Just getting on with the job. 

From 6 weeks of founding my business, I’ve been blessed with being in demand and having a heavy workload. But, because of this, I had so much work to do I concentrated on getting it done without concentrating on the bigger picture. The bigger picture being the after-effects on my health, life and finances (I’ll go into more in another post).

Reflecting back made me realize that I have done just about everything out there that I wasn’t supposed to do according to the experts.

🥺 I didn’t put boundaries in place.

🥺 I worked long hours without many breaks.

🥺 I let my health slip. I stopped walking and running, which I used to do on a regular basis. 

🥺 I let my clients determine my work hours. 

🥺 I worked all hours of the day (and night sometimes).

It’s not just me that ‘broke the rules’. I have read and heard the same story from many virtual assistants’ time and time again over the years about experiencing burn out, exhaustion, overwhelm, long hours and having no time to sit and read those inspirational books collecting dust on the shelves.

Why do I continue to hear so many versions of the same story? 

I’ll tell you why. I think it’s because many of us who do this type of work (me included) are givers. Loyal and tenacious. We want to make sure the work we do is the best that can be done. 

But, and here’s the BIG but, if you don’t watch yourself, you’ll end up being a people pleaser.

Being busy and not keeping an eye on what you want can unintentionally send you down the people pleaser path. And here’s what can happen.

People pleasers tend to sacrifice their own wants, needs and opinions, ensuring that others will approve and like them. When you neglect yourself in this way and live in constant fear of what others think, it not only drains you physically, but it takes a serious toll on your mental health. Here are 5 ways that your mental health will suffer as you attempt to people please your way through life. 

1. High Stress: As a people pleaser, your inability to say no will have you adding even more activities and tasks (that you don’t want to do) to your already busy plate. This could mean taking on more responsibility at work or simply saying yes to a night out when you’d rather stay in. Either way, consistently putting others first and your own wants and needs last will eventually send your stress level off the charts. Instead of saying yes to a whole bunch of things you don’t want, decide what makes YOU happy and say yes to that instead. 

2. Depression: When you put your all into making everyone else happy, you aren’t being true to yourself. Your wants, needs, likes, opinions – all of that goes out the window as you try to edit yourself to “fit” whoever it is you’re trying to please. It’s extremely stressful to put on a show, keep up appearances and give 110% of yourself to someone else because you feel as if you need their approval. This makes it very easy to slip into depression and loneliness because you neglect who and what really matters – YOU. 

3. Resentment: When you spend most of your time caring for and pleasing others, without getting much in return, a huge load of resentment will start to set in. On the surface you will be full of smiles and yes’s, however behind closed doors it will be a different story. You’ll start to resent yourself for giving so much and also resent others for not caring enough to return the favor. If you don’t change course, this is a dead-end road that will lead to frustration, discontent and unhappiness. 

4. Losing Yourself: As you focus more on pleasing other people, you begin to sacrifice your own identity, losing who you really are. Changing yourself to fit in for the approval of others, causes you to stop walking your own path and take theirs instead. This leads to an internal battle that leaves you feeling drained, frustrated and uncertain about who you are and what you want. It will also impact your close relationships because you spend so much time placing your energy in the wrong corner. 

5. Anxiety: The longer you put the needs of others front and center, the more anxiety you’re going to have. If you are a chronic people pleaser, you tend to worry constantly about being good enough, fitting in and being accepted by those around them. For this reason, your imperfections and mistakes are magnified at all times and you become your own worst critic. This alone can cause your anxiety to go through the roof because you feel like you don’t measure up to the image that everyone expects. 

People pleasing can have a serious impact on your mental health and will keep you stuck in a vicious cycle of anxiety and depression. 

Don’t worry if you’ve read this article so far and thought “OMG! It’s me!” 

Here’s what you can do. 

Rather than looking for approval from everyone else, start searching inward and give yourself some of the love and energy you’ve been doling out to everyone else. I started working on doing this myself last year and I can tell you it is TOTALLY empowering!

Throughout January I am going to share with you how to stop being a pushover. 

If you’re anything like the way I used to be (having always found it difficult to say no), then you’re going to love my tips which you can implement in both your business and your personal life. 

I will also be recommending some great books to read which I’ve found really helpful.

It’s ‘easy’ to follow the dream of running your own business. It’s harder to stay on track and not get pulled into fulfilling other people’s dream at the expense of yours, which could ultimately turn into a nightmare.

In the next post I’m going to cover some confidence hacks that can help you build the strength to speak your mind.

Have you joined my Facebook group yet? This is a great place to ask questions, post your thoughts and let me know how you're getting on. I'll be adding some tips and resources in there too. You can join here - The Veteran VA 

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