Growth Guides Marketing Holly Whitehead and Barley Exeter Devon

On seeking a better work-life balance

I wrote this at the start of 2019 without realising how much change was around the corner. But it’s all part of the same narrative and why I’ve chosen to take the leap with Growth Guides and have more control over the things that really matter to me…

I learnt something about myself last year.

Ok, I learnt a lot about myself. I suppose that’s part of being young.

But there was one realisation in particular that I am still coming to terms with.

I physically cannot work as hard as I want to.

And by that, I don’t mean I’m lazy. Or that I procrastinate. Or that I have the best intentions but no ability to follow through.

It means I want to work every hour in the day. I want to pour all of myself into my career and my work. I want to give my life to what I love doing.

But I can’t.

Because friends, family, health, household chores, personal admin and other lifely duties call.

And that’s ok. It’s a balance. It probably isn’t healthy to hold my work in such high regard.
(Let me point out that it’s not because I have my own business. I’m not even working for myself – I’m in full-time employment in an office with 50 other people.)

My dad said something to me recently that really touched me.

“Holly. I would tell you that you’re working too hard and need to cut down. You’re always tired, always busy, always moving. But I can’t. Because I can see you love it so much.”

And I thought he was right. I carried on working hard, pushing myself to breaking point – and sometimes past it – to deliver what I felt I needed to.

I think part of it was the novelty. I was a real f****er at school, and at college. Barely worked. Skipped lessons. Gobbed off to teachers. Did all my essays within three hours of the deadline. You know the type.

And I was absolutely TERRIFIED of the rat race. Of work. Of a lightless tunnel stretching on until the crippling throes of old age.

I rebelled.

The deep irony in the complete opposite turning out to be true is part heart-breaking, part hilarious.

I didn’t enjoy my childhood for fear of its end. And here I am, absolutely fucking loving it.

It’s amazing to learn that work doesn’t have to mean sacrificing what you love, when you adore every minute of doing whatever it is that you do.

I really wish I had known when I was young.

Anyway, I digress.

As a person of extremes, I find it hard not to binge on what I love. Even now, as an adult (on paper at least!)

Chocolate; TV series; pizza; hell, even boyfriends or new toys.

And work too.

It’s like a drug. It’s addictive. You feel high when you nail something. You feel amazing when you’re recognised for your efforts. Why on earth would you stop?

Because it’s a drug. And it eats into your life.

So this year, I’m seeking a better balance. And I am convinced my outputs won’t deteriorate.


I’m going to work fewer hours. Learn to turn off work brain. Set limits for myself and ensure to dedicate a proportion of my time to all the things I let slip when working like a fucking maniac.

It won’t be easy but it will be good for me.

And if anything, I reckon my efficiency will improve. I bet the quality of work will skyrocket.

Because when you work too hard, when you’re always busy and neglect looking after yourself, you don’t perform as well. You’re tired, stressed, probably hungry and have constant guilt inside you, for everything and everyone you are giving no time to.

That’s not productive.

It’s not healthy.

And it’s certainly not conducive to becoming the superstar you want to be.

So bring on a more chilled 2019. A better 2019. A happier, healthier 2019 with balance and the ability to function as an adult, rather than a human-robot hybrid.

I’m excited.

By Holly Whitehead...

Holly Whitehead, co-founder of Growth Guides, the Exeter-based team helping founders and ambitious companies scale up quickly and sustainably

Holly Whitehead is a marketing professional with hands-on B2B and B2C expertise driving and managing rapid growth, including through external investment.

Experience ranges from day-to-day execution of marketing activity to wider strategy, brand development, product launches and the recruitment and management both of internal teams and 3rd parties/agencies.

In 2018 Holly was selected as one of '35 business people under 35 to watch out for' by Devon Live.

She is passionate about combining strategy, culture and action both to deliver results now and to set up brands/businesses for long-term and sustainable success.

With a love for working with amazing people/founders who are intent on doing worthwhile things and are ready to break the rules.

2 Minute Tip: How To Launch Better New Products & Services

If you are one of the many people thinking of introducing new products or services to adapt to this crazy new world, you might find ...
Read More

Helping the world’s oldest industry adapt to a digital world

Mankind’s oldest industry You might not know this - I didn’t - but sheep production is mankind’s oldest organised industry. Sheep were domesticated some 10,000 ...
Read More

6 Tips for Staying Cyber Secure while working from home

A quick 3-minute video presented by Tony outlining 6 basic tips from the Securious team for anyone working from home and wanting to stay cyber ...
Read More

Is John Lewis in decline because eco-conscious middle-class customers are buying less stuff?

John Lewis has been in the headlines after issuing a profits warning following disappointing Christmas sales. Many theories have been put forward but no one ...
Read More

Home cyber security and the dawn of the cyber-aware customer

Through our work with Securious, Holly and I are on a mission to encourage businesses to improve their cyber security and persuade them that it’s ...
Read More
StopTopps anti drink spiking lids

Drink spiking and why we’re supporting StopTopps

It's time to stamp it out Drink spiking is a disgusting, dangerous and hugely under-reported crime. Huge numbers of people are affected, sometimes in a ...
Read More

Send us a message...