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Jennifer Allwood | 30 Days of Prayer

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Ok so business is good.

Business is really, really, reaaaaaaally good.  And I say that not to boast, but to try to explain how things have so quickly gotten way out of hand in my world.

My social media numbers are up almost 35,000 new people on my FB page in 9 months.  I have several new girls working for me.  I’ve been asked to be a guest speaker at the Kansas City Home and Garden Show.  I’ve been asked to be on TV again in the next few weeks.  I am starting the balls rolling for my book this year.  My DIY videos for cabinet painting are selling faster than I can make them and I am starting a line of faux finishing videos for walls.

Biz is roccccccccckin’.

But as biz continues to rock,   I have spun out of balance in the last 6 months.  And I was one of those people who said “that will never happen to me”.  And yet, it spun so crazy so quickly that before I knew it, I was a mess.  And here is what I mean by a mess:

My exercise regime has plummeted.

I have been working nonstop for months.

Friends are calling me wondering if I’ve dropped off the face of the earth?

My family is complaining.  The husband is feeling neglected.  The kids know I am distracted.

I have gotten sick several weeks in a row…… and I am NEVER sick. Fever blisters and feeling like a mac truck hit me and body aches and just YUCK!

I have been sleep deprived, friend deprived, exercise deprived and working like a maniac.

And it has scared me. 

So a few weeks ago….I drew a line in the sand.  Because I know in my knower….. This is NOT what my life is supposed to look like.

I have always said…. that if I fail as a wife and as a mother, that it will never matter how good of a painter I was.  My priorities are my husband and my kiddos first.  Work has to come after.

And so, I have made several business decisions lately to try to regain control of my life.  I want to share them with you because I know that I know that I know that I am NOT the only wife/mother/biz owner who struggles like this.  You fellow people-pleasers need to take note and LEARN from me.  Stop the madness before you too spin out of control.

Here are a few things that I have done that have already made a HUGE difference:

First, I am only taking work calls Monday-Friday 9-5.  Happpppppppppppppppy dance.  We have to be able to shut it off my fellow self-employed friends.  The first weekend it was hard.  This weekend it was FREEDOM.

Second, we are no longer traveling over 30 minutes from my home to paint.  It just doesn’t make sense anymore.  And so I am looking for a great faux finisher in Kansas City to refer work to on the south side of town.  Let me know if you know of someone.  I have said no to 6 jobs in the last 2 weeks.  The first one hurt.  The other 5 were freedom.

Third, we are installing a work line in our home that will help with boundary #1.  It can go straight to voicemail after hours.  No more client calls on our house phone. Hallelujah.

Fourth, I am scheduling exercise right into my work schedule just like a consultation.

Fifth, I hired a personal assistant who has been a Godsend.  She is seeing to it that I stick to items 1-4. She has taken over my paperwork and errands and studio work and has worked over 20 hours each week for the last month.  Did you read that right?  She has saved me from 80+ hours of work in the last month.  WHY DID I NOT HIRE SOMEONE YEARS AGO?????

Sixth, I went and got some good counseling. Listen….. good Christian counseling is a gift from God.  Call it therapy; call it whatever.  But if it helps you get over some “humps” and helps you to get your groove back….who cares what it is called?  I sat and bawled like a baby and got my head straight.  Sometimes we just need someone to look at our life and help us to determine why we behave like we do (in my case….why have I been such a people pleaser?).  And then help us determine some action steps and take it to the Lord.  I am so grateful for good guidance!



And so I will say this, we are just a few weeks in on some of my new “boundaries”…… but it is freeing me…..FREEING me. 

I know this sounds like such a no brainer, but we tend to forget…. that I am the only one who can take care of myself.  That YOU are the only one who can take care of yourself.  If I don’t make some changes….they aren’t going to happen on their own. And they won’t happen for you either.  Plus, “taking care of yourself” looks different for everyone.  For me, it is sleep and downtime.  You need to determine what it is that refreshes YOU.

And just to be clear, the work craziness that I have been experiencing is NOT my client’s fault.  I have the best clients EVER.   It’s MY fault for not establishing better boundaries earlier.   But as I have told my decorators and some of my client’s this week some of my new “rules”….they all were very excited for me.  This isn’t brain surgery folks….us discussing painting a furniture piece can wait thru my family dinner and be handled tomorrow.  I promise you that your clients, the ones you really want….will not mind.

And I know this will be a process for me.  But when I am a wreck on the inside, everyone suffers.  My family suffers, the girls who work for me can tell, my clients don’t get my best and you don’t get the best of me either.  And my heart is to share with you my story and my journey to encourage you along the way.

So please hear me, it’s ok to say “no” to those jobs you really don’t want.

It’s ok to say “not now” to those requests that you just can’t fit in.

It’s ok to take care of yourself.  In fact, it’s NECESSARY.

The world doesn’t need a bunch of burnt out, stressed out, self-employed, people pleasers.

The world needs us to take care of ourselves and our families FIRST.  Then, and only then, are we healthy enough to create beauty for them.







  • Cindy says:

    I LOVE it, Jennifer. I’ve been meaning all week to ask if you ever got that assistant hired. Good for you. xoxo

  • Karin says:

    Best advice ever! I started early on only taking calls Monday-Friday and only schedule estimates during the week as well. Thank you for posting this Jennifer!!! Love it.

  • Jodi Lockwood says:

    I love how God always sends outside things to affirm what He is doing in you. My Tuesday morning bible study group just finished the book/dvd boundaries. Amazing study for those of us who tend to be people pleasers. Just this past week I’ve felt a tug to set “office hours.” So thank you for being real and open and sharing. I know I have already been heading where you are. Learning that it will be okay and not everything is urgent. A great reminder to truly be present where you are.

  • Andrea says:

    Life/work/play balance is a never ending battle of the scale. I have been blessed to be able to follow my creative muse, and self discipline is a fascinating creature to say the least. I worked many years for a small family owned business and observed how my former boss set the boundaries. I did indeed learn a lot. I will probably never surpass hobby status but balance is always important, regardless. Blessings to you. <3

  • I am quickly seeing the need to set some of these boundaries in my business. It’s going to be tough to not answer those messages and calls 24/7 like we do now. We are still new and don’t want to lose the business, but logically, I’m sure our customers, the ones we want, will wait until the morning for answers. Great advice!

  • I am so glad I have come across this post Jennifer! I too have crossed the threshold on what one person can physically do. I have got to start learning to say no. It’s so difficult when you have worked so hard to grow a business to tell clients no. I keep trying to remind myself that my daughter will only be under our roof another two years so I need to take advantage of anytime that I have with her. Five years from now I will regret every time I told her “no I can’t watch a movie I have to work”. Family time is more valuable than any money a project brings in. Thanks for the reminder!

  • Lyn Westhoff says:

    I am so glad I found you! THANK you so much for the inspiration to take of myself ! Your description fits me to a T. Boundaries are hard to set, but I remind myself of my priorities: God, Family and THEN work! I actually “overdid” it with two huge projects and ended up in the hospital for chest pains. I brushed it off to an extensive amount of using my trapezoid muscles for 4 weeks straight. Long story short, it was STRESS ! Needless to say, God GOT my attention !

  • Lisa Winans says:

    Good for you, Jennifer! I know it must be hard when the success of all your ventures is steamrolling right before your very eyes. Along the way you will probably need to continually reprioritize. It is so easy to let work consume you when you are passionate and committed! As women we naturally are connected emotionally to taking care of those around us. I always felt that way about my clients when I was still working. Now I counsel two of my best friends still in my industry. I try to remind them that the work will be there tomorrow. The kids are only at home with us for a short while and we need to shut it off and just go home each night. And I just had this conversation with one of my daughter’s friends who is new to a marketing career. With the great rewards come growing pains…to be totally expected and part if the process! Keep up the good work! 🙂

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