How To Keep Your Head When It Feels Tough
Starting your own business is an incredible feeling. Everyone tells you how brave you are, how exciting it must be and how much they wish they had the courage to do it too.
The reality is, that at times it can be overwhelming, stressful, unpredictable and a total emotional rollercoaster.
It’s not about avoiding the challenges that will inevitably come your way, but how you create the mental capacity to deal with them.
Feeling lost is normal, staying lost is a problem, as working for yourself means the business relies on you - without you, there is no business.
So what can you do to help yourself cope at times of high stress?
There’s a buzz word going around at the moment: Resilience.
Don’t dismiss it too quickly though just because it seems to be everywhere. The truth is, resilience is a key tool to add to any business person’s toolbox. ‘Soft skills’ as they are sometimes called, are skills that can be made to sound less important or inferior to more tangible skills. I truly believe to be able to run a business, especially on your own, you need both the training and experience of tangible skills like sales and marketing. And you equally need mental strength.
You may remember times in your business when your productivity dropped, or when you were less effective in your actions, or you lost energy, you hit burnout, you felt stuck, you were behaving differently with your friends and family.
As business owners, when faced with adversity, we want to be able to not feel lost for too long and to stay on track. You want:
Being challenged and feeling stress can be good to a point, but we all have a breaking point too, so we want to be able to have strategies in place before things go too far.
The good news is, you can learn to build resilience. It’s a state, not a trait.
I’ll spare you all the theory (which is actually very interesting!), and give you five of my tips to consider when thinking about increasing your own resilience.
What do you not have the power to change? And then, what can you change?
Be careful not to do this subjectively, this has to be the things you can and can’t have impact or influence on objectively.
This is about taking that first critical step of working out what you can and can’t control, so your energy and focus goes somewhere you can have an impact. And you’re not spiralling unhelpfully.
Your website host is down for the next two hours. What do you do? You could stress intensely about the website not working, but can you change that? Move to what you can control and the shift will help your mind move to solution mode.
2. Find perspective - think about the challenge you’re facing as part of the bigger picture.
A question to ask yourself that can be helpful: Will this matter in 12 months time?
This can help you triage how significant this issue really is, and enable you to decide the appropriate level of response.
You’ve had a really terrible night's sleep, you’re exhausted and have a huge to-do list to do today. Getting through it is making you anxious and stressed. If you did most of what you were meant to do today, tomorrow, will that matter in 12 months time?
3.Remember why you’re doing what you’re doing.
Having a clear sense of purpose and knowing what your desired future vision is, really helps connect the present to the future.
Having meaning is a driver of resilience, so take a look at your mission statement, your vision board or your business plan (or all three!) and then revisit how you could deal with the challenge in front of you having given your brain a hit of positivity and optimism by remembering your purpose and drive.
4. Create your own resilience toolkit.
To do this, you need to know two things.
These could be people, they could be actions like exercise, reading, walking. They could be places, objects. Whatever they are, write both lists out and make the connection to how they influence your ability to cope with challenges.
Then think about how you can do less of the things that break your resilience, or how can you mitigate the impact they have.
And similarly, how can you do the things that build your resilience more often, and how can you lean on them when you need them.
5. Check Yourself.
Avoid catastrophising what’s happening and also avoid taking it personally. This is tricky when you run your own business, as your business is personal to you. You’re invested in it emotionally and this can make the personal versus professional distinction harder than working for somebody else’s product or service.
If you can take a moment to check in with yourself before having a reaction, you are much more likely to respond constructively to a situation rather than be triggered into a reaction (or overreaction) to it.
With all the tips, this kind of flexibility in how we see adversity as a challenge to overcome, and that we have control over how we overcome it, can help us work through the situation more constructively and build resilience in the process.
Being your own boss and in control of the direction of your business is so liberating compared to the corporate 9-5. Remember that you run your business, so don’t forget to work on yourself as a key part of your business growth strategy.
Natasha Chatur is The Work Happiness coach helping increase motivation, productivity and engagement at work.
Need to get unstuck? You can book in a 90 minute coaching session with Natasha from the All by Mama Services Directory and find out more at www.natashachatur.com
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