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Wellbeing with Jess: burnout prevention for entrepreneurs

Split Tech City

Split Tech City


We continue to celebrate Global Entrepreneurship Week by focusing on the importance of wellbeing for entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurship takes a lot out of an individual – you always have to be at your best. And we all know that being at your best requires you to be healthy and energized. A burned-out entrepreneur cannot give his or her best.

That is the reason why we got talking with one of the internationals living in Split who, aside from experiencing burnout herself, is now focusing on helping others to not reach that breaking point through her work as a personal trainer. That is also the reason why she founded her wellness brand called FIT&FKD.

FIT&FKD is for those who are feeling physically FKD or mentally FKD and looking for a balanced approach to getting FIT.”

Get to know Jess and her life in Split

Meet Jess Gillespie who is born and raised in Sheffield, United Kingdom, but chose Split as her destination: “A combination of COVID-19 and Brexit brought me to Split – the best outcome to a tough situation I could have imagined. With all gyms shut down and therefore unable to work, I decided to escape the UK after its first lockdown last year. When the new Brexit rules hit the UK back in January I was in Spain and my 90-day countdown had begun. I had the choice to go back to England or head to a non-Schengen country. Forever the adventurer, it was a no-brainer for me.

I’d heard amazing things about Croatia and to my pleasant surprise, it fell right into the category I needed. Split had stuck in my head from friends who had visited and so I decided to give it a go.”

Jess is a passionate traveler and has been since the age of 17. Her travels took her via most continents and, among the places she called home besides London, are Buenos Aires and New York. She jokingly says about herself that she is consumed by wanderlust. So, for Jess, choosing to move to Split was not difficult. However, now there is also a list of things that make her stay:

“The people, the weather, the sea, the pomalo attitude…the list goes on! Split has all the conveniences of a bigger city but at a scale which allows you to really get to know it and the people who live here.

I was living in London previously and almost every daily task required a minimum 30-minute commute. Meeting up with friends who lived on the other side of the city would often get pushed to a future date – leaving you to feel somewhat isolated. In contrast, in Split, no matter where you are, you’re only a 10-minute walk from whatever you need to do or whoever you plan to meet.”

“There’s also an amazing community of ‘Yes!’ people here in Split.

You’ll always find someone who shares your interest or is interested to learn about it or have a go at something new. Split is a great place to create a more balanced life in terms of personal time and work time. I don’t know if it’s being so close to the sea, the weather, or the pomalo attitude but the city has a calming influence where everything feels possible but without the pressure of it having to happen immediately.”

After living here for some time already, Jess can very well be considered a local, and while learning about life in Split was not difficult for her with information easily accessible on the internet, she has also met and befriended some amazing people here in Split, both locals and expats alike, who have given her all the advice she needed.

She is also an active member of expat and digital nomad Facebook groups that still help her connect with people and ask any questions. Having become Split’s citizen, she couldn’t escape the questions we always ask internationals about life here:

  • Most important lesson learned in Split: “Pomalo!”
  • Five things she loves about Split: sea, history, cafes, nightlife, walkability
  • Five things she loves about Split’s people: the pomalo attitude, the mix of locals and expats, no matter what you need someone will always know a guy, the ability to drink rakija at all times of the day, the people’s passion for Hajduk

Now that we have gotten to know Jess for a bit, we will let her guide you through steps to achieve wellbeing as an entrepreneur.

Advice for upcoming entrepreneurs

What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs – students, young people planning to start a business, etc. – on how best to prepare themselves for what awaits them?

It’s all about having the right mindset. Taking the leap into business ownership while exciting, can be a daunting thing. Aside from the financial and legal considerations, it’s also important to get yourself mentally prepared. My top tips are things I’m still trying to implement for myself but will hopefully resonate and be helpful:

  • Identify your why: Owning your own business isn’t just about being your own boss. You need to clearly define your ‘why’. What’s motivating you to take the leap and is the reason enough to keep you going when things aren’t going smoothly? A friend gave me great advice to write your ‘why’ on a post-it and display it somewhere visible to you daily. This helps to keep you on track on those days when things get tough.
  • Develop 3 key brand values: People will always be ready to give you their opinion and that can be super helpful as they come with their own set of skills and experiences but it’s important that you stick to what feels right for you. Brand values are a set of guiding principles that shape every aspect of your business. They’re placed at the very core of your brand and are there to dictate your brand message, identity, and personality. If your business is in alignment with your personal values, it’s much easier to stay on course and power through whatever obstacle is in your way.
  • Self-doubt is normal: When starting a new business (especially when you yourself are the service that you’re offering) a certain amount of self-doubt can be healthy, it makes you evaluate what you know and work hard at the things you don’t. Too much self-doubt can very quickly turn into imposter syndrome. These feelings of uncertainty and the fear of failure can lead to indecisiveness and therefore inaction. Be mindful of your thinking and learn to identify what the fears are and when they show up. Take a moment and ask yourself if you really believe that they are true.
  • Don’t compare yourself to others: I compared myself with people who have been in the business for years and held myself to such a high standard that I struggled to hit the go button fearing I had nothing new to offer. Then someone told me, ‘your business will be unique because you are unique. No one person can be the summary of all the things you are so you’ll always be able to offer something different.’ And with that in mind, I started.
  • Surround yourself with people who know more than you: You can feel pulled into a million different directions when starting a business – where possible, outsource the things that take time away from your area of expertise. Although it’s good to have a handle on the different aspects of your business, it’s impossible for us to be experts in everything, so let the experts do what they do best and you do what you do best.
  • Try not to take things personally: Distinguishing your personal identity from your work identity is vital for your mental wellbeing. Your business will inevitably experience highs and lows, one day you’ll be praised for what you’re doing and the next you may get feedback that sends you into that spiral of self-doubt. It’s important to realize that you are not just your business and at this point grounding yourself in the things that make you who you are outside of work is important. It may be that you’re kind to others, a loyal friend, or super creative. When we take a moment to remember these values and what truly matters to us, the fear of criticism from others falls by the wayside. Starting a business is really hard – give yourself a break – as with everything in life all we can do is learn from our mistakes and move on.
  • Be disciplined with yourself: With no one holding you directly accountable it’s easy to let your task list pile up, which in turn can create overwhelm and inevitably lead to procrastination. Establishing a daily routine helps to structure your day so that you can achieve what you need whilst still maintaining a work-life balance.
    1 – Create a task list (or several) identifying the main goals of the day and break down each task according to their priority and timing.
    2 – Allocate specific times for meetings, emails, social media updates to avoid losing focus and interrupting workflow.
    3 – Learn to say no. There will always be temptations to do other more exciting things, at this point, go back to your reason ‘why’ and politely say ‘no’.
  • Don’t wait until everything’s perfect to start: As a perfectionist and a detail-oriented person, I sometimes struggle to look up and see the bigger picture. Remember, you may have a great concept but it will stay exactly that unless you start moving forward.

My personal mantra: consistency and persistence equal success.

Advice for established entrepreneurs

What advice would you give to people who are already entrepreneurs and who already have to handle that type of lifestyle?

Through my experience and talking to other more established entrepreneurs, keeping a true work-life balance will allow you to be more efficient and effective in business. And more importantly, will ensure you are the healthiest, happiest version of yourself. There’s a great exercise you can do to ensure you have this down, it’s called ‘The Wheel of Life’.

Imagine your life as a pie where each slice represents the most important aspects of your life e.g. relationships, social life, family, health, career, personal growth, spirituality, finance. Now think about eating each slice according to how much time you dedicate to it. Is there any pie left at the end? If so, you’re not enjoying the full pie and the slices left will get moldy.

Conversely, if you eat too much of one slice, you may get sick. In terms of work, this can appear as severe stress and ultimately ‘burnout’. Although this may seem like a silly metaphor, as someone who has been through burnout, I can ensure you of its importance.

There are several things you can do to avoid burnout. Below are my 10 top tips:

  1. Cultivate the ability to self-reflect – knowing when you’re nearing breaking point will help to avoid total burnout. Signs of burnout include: exhaustion, isolation, irritability, escape fantasies, frequent illnesses.
  2. Learn to manage stress – Exercise, meditation, deep breathing and journaling are some of the more powerful techniques for cultivating a calm and positive mindset.
  3. Keep yourself organized – Define dedicated hours for all crucial things including work, self, and family, and honor these times fully. Turn off your phone or at least email alerts during non-working hours.
  4. Schedule daily pleasurable ‘timeouts’ – Things like going for a coffee, calling a friend, or getting out in nature. This will leave you feeling refreshed and able to focus.
  5. Exercise – Exercising can be a fantastic way to re-focus the mind as you have to concentrate fully on the task at hand. This can give you a sense of control in those crucial moments where everything feels like it’s spiraling. As well as helping to alleviate stress, exercise also increases energy levels and boosts self-esteem.
  6. Eat a well-balanced, healthy diet – Creating a routine around preparing lunch the night before or simply setting a calendar reminder to get lunch at a certain time each day helps ensure you don’t skip meals or reach for unhealthy options. Including specific foods such as those with omega-3 fatty acids can be a natural antidepressant and may help give your mood a boost.
  7. Get enough sleep – Sleep serves many purposes, including regulating our mood, clearing waste from the brain, and re-energizing our cells. The amount of hours we need varies on the individual but creating good sleep habits is essential to a good night’s sleep. Try to go to bed at a regular time, avoid caffeine in the evening, turn off electronic devices and wind down at least 30 minutes before your bedtime.
  8. Travel – Getting away on holiday will allow you to fully disconnect and give your body and mind time to re-charge. The change in environment will spark your creativity and allow you to bring new energy into your work.
  9. Build up your support system – Find coaches and mentors or other support groups to discuss setbacks, time management strategies, and other business challenges and avoid feeling like you’re in it alone.
  10. Give to others – even the smallest act of kindness can re-energize you and help you find meaning in your work.
What all entrepreneurs have in common

Even though every client you have is an individual with individual needs and a tailored approach from your side, have you noticed a common thread among entrepreneurs that you think might be beneficial for them to pay attention to?

Entrepreneurs tend to be self-driven, confident, tenacious, and ambitious. While these characteristics are essential to getting a new business off the ground and to succeed, these traits also seem to come with a side dish of perfectionism and the need for control. Entrepreneurs find it hard to switch off and are prone to overworking.

It doesn’t matter who you are, everyone has a limit and it’s important to understand what yours is.

The three pillars of wellbeing

Understandably, giving any type of advice without getting to know the person and their background is difficult, but can you give us the top three things you would like any entrepreneur to do for themselves that you think would make their life easier and better in the long run?

  • Diet – be mindful of what you eat
  • Exercise – keep fit and move your body
  • Sleep – get enough rest

We’d like to thank Jess for this valuable insight into the wellbeing of entrepreneurs and invite anyone who is looking to be “more FIT, less FKD” to seek her out!

Photos by: Aaron Truax for FIT&FKD


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Split Tech City

We are the first formal association of Split’s tech community which includes companies, associations, institutions, meetups, and individuals.

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