08 Nov Mental Health With Work Pirate James Eaves
Mental health with Work Pirate James Eaves
The latest in our series around entrepreneurs and their mental health is with Work Pirate James Eves. James is a Leadership Coach, Gallup® Certified Strengths Coach, and Co-Founder of Work Pirates.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Something that always attracted me to running my own business was the flexibility in what I do and when. Whether you’d call this a life/work balance or designing an optimum life.
Any exercise usually takes place first thing in the morning. Leaving it till later in the day (particularly in the autumn / winter) increases the chances it won’t happen! I will then look at the priorities for the day and potentially the rest of the week (if tasks are linked).
Typically, I will have coaching sessions booked in with clients. Around 75% of these take place online, with the rest in person. And I like to blend in a number of events whether online or in person. This maintains some social connection, introduction to new networks and learning.
As for my priorities in the time around these diary slots, I work with my energy rather than against it. I won’t force a task if the energy or right headspace isn’t there. I will switch to something else. There is always a variety of things to do linked to strategy or shorter-term admin. Flexing as needed has helped get most from each day.
Why is mental health so important for business owners?
Being a business owner can be very rewarding but also very challenging. Whether just starting out, or with a team of people, there can be many strains and pressures to juggle.
I have experienced, and also those in my entrepreneur peer network, that it can be quite lonely at times. If you’ve left the relative certainty of a corporate role or regular salary, facing the uncertainty and doubts can come from not just inside your own head, but from others. Even those we would consider close – friends and family.
While working hard to make something we are so passionate about a success, it is vital to not neglect our mental health. If this slides, the business is at risk, and the wider implications of it not surviving.
What have been your biggest mental health challenges?
Grief from the loss of close friends and family has been a big challenge. Processing these big events takes time, and I now tend to use these for motivation and a reminder that life is precious and to keep persisting in what I want to achieve in life.
Another area is about finances. I have spent many an early hour awake, figuring out solutions for actions to grow revenue and where to direct our resources. This shorter-term stress often leads to being really creative and being able to make things happen, all while having that underlying optimistic outlook that the future is promising and not far away!
Also, I received an ADHD diagnosis at the beginning of the year. It’s helped me to figure out a lot about myself, how I operate and do my best work. It does lead to reflections as to what might have been in my past roles, but I have stopped dwelling on this as I can only influence my future. I now support other ADHD-ers with coaching to bring out their best too. A way for me to turn this into something positive and impactful.
What three things do you to to help boost your mental health?
Exercise – something we all know we should do consistently (but don’t always!) for all the benefits this brings. I signed up to a local gym and have worked with a PT and Physio to work towards improving my overall strength and fitness. This is really helping me to feel healthier and be better prepared for challenges ahead with some accountability attached.
Commitments – I found I was doing too much and burning out. So, I looked at everything and then cut back from things that were not going to support growing the business or maintain a strong bond with my partner. Being ambitious is great, but I needed to be more realistic in what I could actually do.
Social connection – starting and growing a business can be lonely. I equate my overall energy and positivity with how much time I have had interacting with others either online, or in person. Without going overboard, it really helps my mental health.
Are there any books you’ve found helpful?
3 books I’d recommend:
- Shawn Achor – The Happiness Advantage
- Russ Harris – The Happiness Trap
- Strengthsfinder 2.0 – Gallup
Being someone who is very future focused, I found myself neglecting the present in many ways. The first 2 books helped me to see that happiness is about living in the now, whilst still striving for goals and my potential. Figuring out my strengths, and how they help me to succeed or derail me was also a huge turning point in my life and exploring Gallup’s material.
Are there any ways you sabotage yourself and what do you do about it?
I have always struggled to rest. I can be massively productive each day, but will always feel I could do more. I have got much better at managing this before getting to mini-burnouts, but it is a work in progress.
A key realisation is that rest is also achieving! I have learned that I am recharging which allows me to be at my best for coaching clients, I have more creative ideas, and am a better partner.
In this sense, I will put activities into my diary and/or priorities list for the day such as reading a chapter of Book X, or doing some gardening, or going to the gym.
What have you found is bad for your mental health?
Social media – there are many positives in this helping to launch and grow a new business. But there can be downsides as a business owner too.
I have learned that it’s worth remembering that everyone is showing their absolute best version of themselves on each platform. And on a down day, looking at this can be challenging. Seeing someone else’s success, someone else’s holiday or purchase of a new house. Instead of letting this get me down, I use it as motivation to get working on the day’s tasks that will lead to progress and creating that self-sustaining and fulfilled life.
“Comparison is the thief of joy” is something that really resonates. Thank you Theodore Roosevelt.