What is the most important work-life related lesson you have learned?

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In 2014, I was driving to a clients job and had not been feeling well the last couple of weeks. I had been working 14 to 16 hrs a day in the middle of tax season, overloaded myself with so much work, I did the job of 3 people. Anyways, as I was driving, my sight started going. The street I was driving right in front of me disappeared. I freaked out, pulled over, called 911 and was rushed to Emergency going into DKA (Diabetic Ketoacidosis). It resulted in me spending the next 3 weeks in the hospital and finding out that I had Type 1 onset diabetes.

At 44?!?!?! Never ever had any symptoms or issues before, yet this was laying dormant in my body for 44 years. It was set off by the stress of my work schedule. Mind you this was me running my own business, not slaving for anyone, just myself and doing a disservice to myself and my clients.

After this, I learned really fast how to appropriately run my own business in a healthy manner. I learned that if I didn’t take care of myself, nothing would ever truly be gained. So I implemented daily tasks in my life and the first for the time being until my health got better was cut my client base in half. I knew at that time I couldn’t afford an assistant and didn’t feel up to par to train them, so I referred a few of my clients to a great colleague I had until I got back to good health again as there were a lot of changes to come.

I got back to my regular self with a few adjustments (shooting up 🤨, pricking my fingers) but realized what had put me there to begin with. So I want to share some of the changes and words in hope it helps any of you just starting out who feel they have to work to the bone make their business successful. You DON’T!

1. Work smarter, not harder:
My father owned his own fleet of trucks and he would always tell me this when I was growing up. Well…. I didn’t listen! I realized when I first started out that I was taking any job I could get, at whatever rate I could and not knowing any better I undercut myself immensely. What was worse was I carried those clients the next few years with no pay increase because I was afraid of losing their business. I remember while going through my health issues, one of my clients that I had given away called me back and asked when I was getting better because they were being raped at cost! I told them I would not be taking them back and that I was under charging them for the last few years. So instead of taking my clients back at the low cost I was charging them, I raised all my prices almost triple was I was charging previously and weeded through the cheapskates. I worked less hours and made more money.

2. You can’t do it on your own:
Business started picking up again and I realized now that I was making a substantial amount of money, I could finally hire an assistant to take care of all the little stuff that would free up my time for the more bigger things. It was the absolute best move I made!

3. Make time for yourself!:
Gone were the 60 to 80 hr work weeks! I realized if I can’t stay healthy, I can’t be at 100% and truly give my best to my clients. Instead of starting at the break of dawn, I decided to take that time for myself and meditate or do yoga/pilates first thing each morning. I put my start time at 9am and have not worked before that since.

4. Leave you work at work:
Now this one is hard and I do slip up still from time to time, but it is usually only when I am with my grandchildren and a client needs a quick turnaround that I can accommodate. I turned a room in my home into my office. When i work, I work up there only and when I am done, it stays there. Toy can leave your work at work, even when your workplace is at home. I can’t stress this enough! You have to separate the two, otherwise your work will run you rather than you run your work.

5. Take back your WEEKENDS!:
Everyone knows weekends are family time, time to recuperate from.the stressful work week, yet us accounting folks never seem to stop, especially during tax season. It’s been almost 5 years since my hospitalization and I have taken back almost every weekend (except very rare special cases). The freedom in having that time back has been precious to me and helped me perform even better.

Bettia Torres is the owner of B’s Virtual Bookkeeping Solutions, providing full virtual bookkeeping services and/or other general administrative services, with the highest levels of customer satisfaction.