Ever have a pity party? Unlike normal parties, this one’s just for you--the frustrated founder of your business. You’re all alone. Again. Trying desperately to keep your game face on and hide the sweat.
Running your own business is one of the toughest jobs in the world. Even if you don’t actually do it all yourself, you sure as heck worry about it all. Why can’t we get funding? Whom should we hire? Which partner or vendor should we choose? How can we beat the competition? What’s wrong with our pricing? And is this economy ever going to stabilize?
Just when things are coming together nicely in one part of your company, they’re hitting the fan somewhere else. Moments of bliss are fleeting, and even the strongest of leaders can drift into despair.
What can you do when your pilot light goes out?
Give Yourself a 1:1 In this hectic, always-on world, we rarely have time to think things through. The result: We spin our wheels with unnecessary or even misguided activity. We fix problems for other people instead of ourselves. Give yourself some unstructured time to think about what's frustrating you and what's holding back your business. And take notes.
Get the Hell Out Go for a drive. Crank the tunes and open the windows. Right now. If that’s not enough, take a long weekend, and don’t bring your laptop. Or take a real vacation, and get a fresh perspective from a different time zone while slathered in sunscreen.
Sweat Like a Pig Ahh, endorphins. Go for a brisk walk, or head straight to the gym for a spin class or the nearest yoga studio. Take a swim or a run--without the music. Give your brain a chance to drift, dream, and problem-solve. Pump up your confidence and clear out the cobwebs by raising your heartbeat instead of throwing in the towel.
Read Between the Lines. One of my favorite pick-me-ups is bright red and comes with big print and colorful pages. It’s called 5: Where Will You Be Five Years From Today?, by Dan Zadra. I can glance at any page for a reminder to be grateful and brave and to trust my instincts. To shake things up and try a crazy idea. To redefine success and think bigger. And when I need to remember where I left my mojo, I reread any chapter of Enchantment, by Guy Kawasaki.
Play. Puppies. Kids. Dance. Cooking. Shopping. Sports. Art. If work has you tapped out, do something that refills your bucket. Remember when Julia Roberts makes Richard Gere take off his shoes and walk on the grass in Pretty Woman? The world looks different when you give yourself permission to escape from responsibility and reconnect with your joyful self.
Whine a Little. On especially tough days, I get a reality check or soft shoulder by reaching out to another business owner or trusted advisor for a pep talk. Lunch, coffee, or even a quick Facebook chat or Skype session can do wonders when decisions don’t come easily and frustration runs high.
A Little Wine. An adult beverage, in moderation, can help put everything into perspective. Have a nice dinner and bottle of wine. Relax, and enjoy the moment. Your problems won’t go away, but it’ll be easier to reflect on the things in life that are worth working for.
Entrepreneurs usually thrive on the daily adrenaline rush, the highs and lows of building a business. But when the lows get too low and too frequent, give yourself a break.
These are just my tips for refocusing, recharging, and moving forward again. What works for you?