Updated: Nov 3, 2019
I was living in Mexico and completely out of my comfort zone. I was going through a season of the highest highs and the lowest lows with no shortage of laughter, tears, and lessons to be learned. I was too busy rediscovering parts of myself that I didn’t even know were lost in the hustle of running a business to post consistently on Instagram. In fact, social media was the furthest thing from my mind.
In December 2018, if you had told me I wouldn’t post to Instagram for another 6 whole months, I would’ve said you were lying! This was by no means my plan. I knew that as a business owner staying consistent on social media meant reaching new clients, creating incredible opportunities, and using my platform for business activism. And at the time, I couldn’t go more than a few days without posting.
I told myself my Instagram hiatus would only be a couple of weeks, but as the days went by I found myself making huge life changes and facing uncomfortable challenges head on. I was too busy forging incredible friendships that will stay with me forever to think about posting.
By sharing my story, I’m not trying to encourage you to do what I did. For the sake of business growth, I know that having an inactive account for that long is quite a risky move and I'm not recommending it! For me personally, it ended up being worth the risk. I wanted to open up honestly about why I was MIA for so long and turn it into a learning experience.
After recollecting my experiences, I realized that I learned 4 crucial lessons from ghosting my Instagram for 6 months.
1. A healthy mindset matters more than your follower count
As passionate creatives forging our own paths of entrepreneurship, we have to take extra care of the mental real estate we allow to take space in our minds. We have to pay attention to the messages we’re taking in and relaying to ourselves, so we can take charge of our mental health.
Before my 6 month Instagram break, I had been running my business for nearly 4 years. Instagram and other social media platforms were invaluable tools in growing my business and building brand awareness. I loved (and still do!) Instagram, but I started developing some unhealthy habits.
I began caring too much about posting consistently and felt guilty about falling behind. I began fearing that if I stopped posting, my business would fall apart and I’d lose all my followers. Even worse, this pressure started to negatively affect how I felt about my business.
I completely stepped away from posting on my Instagram business account, and to my surprise, I was still getting a steady flow of clients. Despite my Insta-silence, my biggest fears didn't come true! My account and my business were doing just fine. It turned out, my world didn’t fall apart. In fact, not only was I standing on solid ground, I was even more present in the world around me. I felt more drawn to socializing face-to-face and cultivating in-person relationships.
I felt refreshed and ready to start again, this time with a healthier mindset towards social media and better habits. After all was said and done, I learned what was most important was maintaining my mental health through clear boundaries between myself and my social media accounts.
2. Slowing down does not equal failure
Building a thriving business is a marathon. It requires building a strong foundation and growing steadily. After my Instagram hiatus, I was relieved to know that I didn’t have all my eggs in one basket when it came to generating leads and making sales.
As my client list grew, I had less and less mental energy left for my own business needs and creativity. Even after hiring a virtual assistant, I was still overwhelmed with work. My passion and desire to connect was no longer there, and I began posting only out of obligation. The longer this went on, the more guilty I felt. In response, I made the decision to also raise my prices and reduce the number of clients I work with at a time. Now I see the value in my own peace of mind and the effort it takes to maintain quality of service for each new client.
For that reason, you should never feel ashamed if you need to focus on yourself. If at any time, you need to press pause on one aspect of your business for your mental health or any other reason, that doesn’t mean you or your business are failing. Instead, you’re ensuring that you’re fully there to build it to last longer. Always listen to your gut and trust that YOU know what’s best for you. Even if that means straying from "rules" you've been following.
3. Check in with yourself to avoid burnout
At the rate I was going, I was on the fast track to burnout. I was stressed out and putting too much pressure on myself to keep doing something that I no longer felt passionate about. I learned pretty quickly that burnout was real. If you don’t listen to your body or the signs that it’s time to check-in with yourself and your needs, it could manifest into something bigger than expected and can take longer to bounce back from.
Setting up the right systems early on gave me more stability and freedom to rest as I needed and take calculated risks for the betterment of myself and my business. After my break, I chose to focus on quality over quantity when posting to my Instagram. I decided that I would be mindful of how I used my time and what kind of message I would tell myself and my audience.
To avoid burning out, I learned to only give my social media accounts a limited amount of my time. If I need to take a quick breather or if I start to internalize negative messages, then it’s okay to spend a day away from time to time. And most importantly, I learned that not only on my social media but in my business, I need to take time to rest, recuperate, and not overload myself.
4. Momentum is really difficult to get back once you lose it
Although my break from Instagram was helpful in reconnecting with my business, it also made me appreciate how much easier things feel when you’re in a good forward moving flow. Just like going to the gym for the first time in a long time is harder than when you’ve been going for some time, posting to Instagram is easier when you’ve got a groove going.
These days, I post semi-regularly and focus on sending out a message that is uplifting and inspiring to my audience. I’d be lying if I said that posting as regularly as I want isn’t a challenge now. It’s been a year since my break from Instagram, and now I’m ready to start posting more often to my feed. As with anything, it’s easier to keep going than to stop and start over. So, while I don’t condone posting just to post, I also wouldn’t suggest taking as long as I did to start posting again.
If you’ve been having a hard time feeling passionate and excited about your social media presence or your business as a whole, I hope you can learn from my lessons to establish healthy boundaries and positive habits that will help you grow a successful, thriving business of your own. If you’re interested in changing your business mindset or developing a strategy to help you build your business in a healthy, sustainable way, I offer one-on-one business coaching programs for creative entrepreneurs like you. Schedule your complimentary Assessment Call to explore how I can help you and your business today!
P.S. Thanks for your patience and taking the time to read this. Come connect with me on Insta: @MeganMediaDesign