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Women In Business: How can you avoid overworking when you love what you do?

We’re back with our guests, talking about everything Women in Business! Today, we welcome Carolina — founder of, activist and Cybercriminology PhD student.

How can you avoid overworking when you love what you do?

‘Being self-employed and turning what was previously a hobby sounds like everybody’s dream. But what happens when you overwork yourself?

I’m sure Confucius didn’t think he’d end up on some Instagrammer’s grid or splattered all over a Millennial pink background when he came up with the: “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life” quote. Thing is, for me, this quote is now as meaningless as “Live, Love, Laugh” or something equally cheesy. It’s just not how it works!

At the moment, I’m a PhD researcher, a pole dance performer and instructor, a blogger, a writer and an activist. Pole dance was my passion, a hobby that saved me from the depths of depression arising from an abusive relationship, a hobby that turned me from someone lacking confidence, afraid of her sexuality, ashamed of her body into a functioning modern feminist sex-positive activist.

Now, pole dancing is, quite literally, my job. I have a growing army of badass students who are getting better by the day, loving themselves as they do. Helping them in their self-love journey, growing in strength and flow, is my mission. And because of this, I have been overbooking myself.

I became an instructor in November 2019, about a year ago. In lockdown, aided by my blog and my Instagram profile, and @bloggeronpole, I received increasing requests for private classes. By April, I had gone from teaching three weekly hours of pole dance in a studio setting to 10 weekly hours in between studio Zoom classes, Zoom workshops and online private classes. Plus, because I was adamant that I needed my own playtime to stay sane, I added 10 weekly hours of my own training on top of that. At the same time, I was still blogging, working on my final PhD drafts and on academic papers, and dealing with the loneliness arising from lockdown.

In short, I was overworking, and I was overworking for two reasons. Because of my General Anxiety Disorder (GAD), I always plan for the worst, and turning money down during a pandemic seemed reckless. But most importantly, I felt like I couldn’t say no to my lovely students across the globe. So, by June, I ended up getting seriously injured twice, not being able to do the splits or to turn my neck to one side because I insisted on keeping up this schedule, which affected my ability to teach and train. Even more worryingly, I was getting burnt out by the very thing I turned to when I was burnt out.

So I took a break, because I realised I had saved enough during lockdown to be able to stay with my parents in Italy and recharge for a while. Now, with Lockdown 2.0 back in full swing, the Zoom private classes and workshops requests are building back up, but I’m going at it with a different mindset. Here’s how I’m avoiding overworking:

  1. I’ve done an audit of my expenses and my spending, establishing how much I need to earn from pole teaching to be comfortable, to be able to afford some extra treats and save for a rainy day;

  2. As a result of my audit, I’ve established a maximum number of weekly hours of teaching I want to do in order to make space for my own needs and my other work;

  3. I’m prioritising more lucrative private classes as opposed to group classes;

  4. I’m setting a maximum number of private class students I want to teach during a given month, booking them in advance to make sure I make room for my own playtime;

  5. Because of all the above, I feel like I can now say no when I can afford to, instead of overbooking myself with my old, doomsday planning scenario.

My mental health, my love for my job/hobby and my body will thank me for that’.

Find Carolina, AKA Blogger On Pole, at @bloggeronpole on Facebook, Insta, Twitter, TikTok and Pinterest.

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