Nicola Wagstaff hit a wall after burnout and adrenal fatigue forced her to stop, take stock of her life and take care of herself. Today she runs Inspire – Rewire a health and wellness company dedicated to helping women press pause on their life and to take time for themselves. For Wagstaff this means offering retreats for women to unwind, running a virtual club where women can connect with one another, as well as running festivals that showcase different types of therapies that are available for women who are tired and need a break for themselves. Today the England-based entrepreneur has made her own self care a top priority as she continues to grow her business in an authentic way.
Wagstaff’s story, as told to The Story Exchange 1,000+ Stories Project:
What was your reason for starting your business?
I set up because I was that unstoppable superwoman in the corporate world who had to be forced to stop in order to rewire. It doesn’t have to be this way and I am on a mission to help others see and recognize the warning signs and to put boundaries in place to stop self-sabotage, overwhelm and people-pleasing, instead encouraging that pause, so that we have a chance to really connect with ourselves and what actually makes us happy, through making space for wellness. Allowing for time, space and permission to navigate through our emotions with tools and self-esteem, speaking up and asserting ourselves, releasing the burden of perfectionism and living an empowered imperfect life.
How do you define success?
For me this means achieving my personal vision which is tied into my professional one. Which is living a more mobile life with a semi-passive income. It’s unashamedly waking up each day knowing there are no financial hurdles, that I give freely my time because I do so out of joy, from tweaking what I want and choose to do with my work.
For me this looks like, waking up leisurely and checking in every day with my members, sharing inspiration or tips on overcoming challenges, which of course I still have. I have the time to spend practicing self care for a couple of hours after a chilled and slow breakfast, spending time with my daughter and working on various passion projects after she goes off to work on hers. It also means that I can head off and travel on a whim because my business is at a place where I can work remote and I have the funds to do so, while helping others like me to follow their dream.
Tell us about your biggest success to date
At a very difficult time when my daughter’s dad and I were separating, I decided to invest in an office and a team, both virtual, and teachers for my sessions. This involved a lot of mindset work around control, fear, being a single mum, financial commitment, training and time lost in training and mistakes. But I overcame it and its the best decision I made to elevate finally from entrepreneurial groundhog day nightmare, to one step closer to my vision.
What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?
One of my biggest challenges was scaling up. As above, I have taken that first step but had more barriers to overcome. Not everyone makes it and now I know why! My dream is to live a life that I know I can, because others do! This is what really motivates me. At the same time, I can only work a limited number of hours per week due to my little girl, and the fact I have burned out in the past, so I will not work hard and late. I will continue to use these as gifts to continue to encourage me to work smarter. Always smarter. I will challenge my mind again and again: how else can I do this? How else can I make it work around 20 hours with nursery, exercise, friends, dating, family and me-time? It forces me to keep the balance and that I will always be grateful for, not resentful.
Have you experienced any significant personal situations that have affected your business decisions?
My business was born under a health condition but I didn’t realize it. I was so used to living a life with high anxiety as the norm. I had Adrenal Fatigue which took years to overcome but as a result, I now specialize in helping people see the signs and symptoms. This awareness was helpful when I had my child almost four years ago and during the recovery of a difficult pregnancy, because I was already good at saying no and listening to my body.
I am now a global expert in burnout, self-sabotage and boundaries, both through my professional qualifications, healing past hurts and five years lived experience of Adrenal Fatigue, and Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder. I give go-getters like myself permission and opportunities to ‘press pause’, so that they can halt the dangerous treadmill they are on, and make changes to their lifestyle before it’s too late; before anxiety, insomnia, lethargy and ill health hit.
What is your biggest tip for other startup entrepreneurs?
Nothing is set in stone. You must start with the mindset of water. If it doesn’t stick, move on. But give it appropriate time too. If you’re not ‘feeling it’, move on. You didn’t go into the entrepreneurial life to be bogged down with work you either hate, feel bored with or you aren’t passionate about. The cost-benefit analysis or pay off is that your creativity is stifled and you lose more than just a few hours doing a job that you’re not being paid enough to do.
How do you find inspiration on your darkest days?
Sometimes I don’t, I succumb to what I know my mind and body wants, which is sofa and Netflix. We deserve it. Other times I go through all my testimonials and remind myself how many people I help. I also reach out to like-minded souls for reassurance and comfort in their words. Other times I ask myself if something is feeling out of balance and if it is not a natural blip, does something need to be changed or tweaked?
Who is your most important role model?
This is a really interesting question as it got me thinking. I don’t really have a role model. I follow my own heart, desires and wants. I listen to my body when things are too much.
But let me think, there must be some. I guess it’s a group rather than a person. It’s women who follow their passion, achieve a lot, do the work but have a life too. Those in the wellbeing industry have a tendency to feel ashamed of wanting to make money. Especially with all the fake quick buck, jumping on the bad wagon ‘guru’ types that either have not been through something to truly understand pain, or are masquerading as all peace and light, when the truth is, we are not. We have just got much better at working through those blips and reducing the healing process, because blips will come, this is life. Denise Duffield might be the closest to a role model for me. Her approach is casual, to enjoy life but also earn well. Reading one of her books gave me the confidence to invest in my office.