Here’s How a Heart Failure Diagnosis at Age 34 Changed My Business

Ditch the Hustle and focus on your intentions — your life may depend on it.

Shannon Hennig
4 min readDec 18, 2020


At 34 years old I was diagnosed with congestive heart failure caused primarily by high blood pressure that was left untreated for too long.

Despite leading a healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise, and a diet of minimally processed food, unchecked stress and anxiety served as one of the primary causes.

It doesn’t matter who you talk to right now, but high levels of stress related to COVID, politics and the unknown future we’re all facing are common.

Everyone is struggling to keep up with work and life in the midst of increasing chaos and uncertainty.

Keeping this in mind, I had to make a plan that took into account my physical limitations, while running my six figure writing and consulting business, continue “co-homeschooling” my six-year-old son with my husband, and make time for the onslaught of medical appointments that were about to come my way.

So here’s what I did and how it’s changed my business for the better.

Getting Intentional

Instead of leaving business decisions up to chance or waiting for external circumstances to dictate my next move, I sat down and asked myself what my intentions were with my work.

This moved me from being reactive to proactive.

I asked myself, what were my intentions with the business that I’m pouring my time and energy into?

Was I creating a job for myself to simply pay the bills, or building a company that served a larger purpose?

What kind of clients did I want to attract and what kind of work truly brought me joy?

As I reevaluated my business and looked at my intentions, I integrated this practice into the exploratory work I do with my clients.

The results have been transformative as we’re able to build a business model that brings them fulfillment and is sustainable because it’s coming from a place of authenticity.

I work with health, wellness and helping professionals to brand and market themselves in ways that the general public understands.

We work together to distill their knowledge and expertise into a business model that establishes their authority and builds trust with customers.

Doing this work and building my own unique program to “help the helpers” means more time for me to do what I love while fulfilling my intentions.

Setting Firm Boundaries

As a small business owner working from home, it can become nearly impossible to separate work and life as they blur into one fluid span of time. Each day you multitask from the time you wake up until you collapse into bed.

At the urging of my business coach I re-evaluated how and where I use my time.

I then ruthlessly went after my schedule and set aside time blocks for specific tasks and project work.

I also had to give myself dedicated time for medical appointments with my cardiologist, trips to the lab for blood work, time to meet with my psychologist and to rest with my feet up (literally) each day.

Properly caring for my health has been like taking on a new part-time job in terms of time commitment and prioritization.

I strongly guard my boundaries and stick to them because my future really does depend on them.

Choosing To Do Less

While it seems counter-intuitive to do less in order to actually get more done, I applied this concept to my work and have been amazed by the results.

Despite having a virtual assistant before my diagnosis, I was terrible at delegation. There was always a feeling of guilt hanging over me when I’d ask her to do something I knew I could do myself.

One of the first things I did after my diagnosis was to start creating standard operating procedures and handing over busy work.

I then naturally progressed to shifting more tasks to my assistant, freeing up my time for high value activities.

I hired another writer to support me, outsourced all my bookkeeping and accounting, and looked for places I could remove myself from the process.

It meant a lot of letting go of old models of thinking about myself as a superhero who could do it all without breaking a sweat.

Now I have the time to focus on single projects each day, rather than frantically multitasking from morning to night. The result is a better product and service, improved relationships with my clients and the ability to raise my prices.

Doing less means identifying where you can create the most value and leveraging it as one of your business’ most important assets.

It also requires building a team around me to support business functions and look for opportunities to continuously improve my services.

While heart failure turned my life and business upside down, the changes it forced on me were all needed. I’d rather go through this deep level of transformation in my 30s and put to use all I’ve learned now, so that I can be deliberate and intentional about what I’m building for the future.

Learn from my experience and take the time now to create a life that you love that’s sustainable and based on intention, rather than keeping up with the hustle.



Shannon Hennig

Communication strategist and writer. Mindfulness, health, wellness and being a busy working mom.