One of my most frequently asked questions is “how did you get to where you are today?”.

My answer isn’t always one I like to share.

Nowadays I discuss mediation, getting outside, connecting with nature, connecting with yourself, listening to your body and mind. I talk a lot about work-life balance, valuing self-care and taking time off to spend with my loved ones.

In the past, I didn’t follow this advice.

From when I first moved to London in February 2015, it was pretty much two years of madness. I was on a mission. A mission to make my business succeed. However, that mission meant that certain things had to be sacrificed. Those things included social life and self-care. I worked every hour of the day, seven days a week. I hardly saw my friends and family; and later on when I met my boyfriend, I hardly saw him too.

In my life, work came first. Above anyone and anything. Not only did it come before myself, my health and any form of self-care. It also came before other people. I would cancel plans to stay at home and do work. Most of the time, I wouldn’t make plans in the first place. If I somehow did see a loved one, I wouldn’t switch off. I would struggle to empty my mind of my never-ending workload. I would be stressed, tightly wound and highly strung.

This negative cycle finally ended when my friends, family and boyfriend sat me down and said things needed to change. I was pushing them away with my workaholic ways. It was tough to be told this, nobody likes to hear about their own faults. However, deep down I knew they were right.

So, I set myself two new years resolutions for 2017:

> Take one day off a week.

> Say no.

As a result of  these, my whole life has changed this year. I have a work-life balance I always dreamed of.  I have realised the true value of my time. I feel more comfortable saying no to jobs, people and events which don’t make me happy. Taking one day off a week has allowed me to reconnect with those I am closest to, as well as get some valuable headspace to reconnect with myself.

I now manage to balance my business with a buzzing social life, a blossoming relationship and ample self-care. I am the happiest I have ever been.

(Disclaimer: Most of the time! Of course I also have busy times when things get a little overwhelming but these are much less frequent than before).

But, here’s the controversial bit.

I don’t think I would have succeeded if I lived my life this way from the very start. 

It is scary to say this, as I know I am supposed to be advocating a low-stress balanced lifestyle. However, if I am 100% honest, as tough as my first two years in London were; I don’t think that my brand and business would have turned out the way they have without the sacrifices I made. I have come to accept that I needed those two years of obsession in order to get to a place where I am now, one where I can afford to relax a little more.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating being a workaholic with no social life. (It’s no fun, I know from experience!). I am just saying, the grind is necessary. You never hear about entrepreneurs having successful businesses with minimal work. They put in the hours. They put in the graft. They make sacrifices. And in the end, they get to a place where they can reap the rewards and establish a better work-life balance.

The lessons from all of this? 

  1. If you’re starting a business, don’t expect it to be an easy ride. Find your passion, embrace the challenge and you’ll work harder than you ever thought you could.
  2. Learn from my mistakes. If you can, please try and maintain some sort of work-life balance. Put time into your relationships. Squeeze in some self-care when you can. Learnt to say no; value your time and value your health.

I used to see success as working long hours, hardly sleeping and juggling too many jobs. Now I see success as having the ability to not only grow my business but also develop myself, through giving my time to relationships, experiences and self-care.

Zanna xx