It is natural to relish the good times, and wallow in the bad times. But business, as in life, ebbs and flows. You can't expect everything to go well all of the time, nor feel that the down times will last forever.
Of course, this is often difficult in business when you are faced with unpredictable highs and lows on any given day.
How do you learn to let it go and instead go with the flow? The answer is practicing non-attachment. The goal of non-attachment is to not let the daily ups and downs of business define you or control your mindset.
I have found that it can be easy to feel like your business is a physical part of you. It's something you created and every decision you make impacts how it grows. However, if we don't look at our business as a separate independent entity, and instead make decisions from an emotional place, we are not setting up our business for success.
If you get too high during the good times, you will come to rely on that feeling to stay productive and happy. If you take a nosedive emotionally during the low points, you will lose your concentration, motivation, and confidence.
Non-attachment teaches you to take a more neutral approach. This doesn't mean that you should never enjoy your successes, nor feel bad about the down times, but simply to acknowledge them, accept them, learn from them, and move past it so you can make the necessary changes in your business.
Here are five ways to practice non-attachment:
1. Approach decisions from a neutral viewpoint.
Non-attachment reminds you that you don't always have to stick to an endeavor out of a feeling of commitment. By approaching it from a neutral viewpoint, it's easier to take the emotion out of it and understand that it is okay to put the project aside for later, or abandon it. This way you don't use up all of your energy and resources trying to force something that you know in your gut is not a good fit. I find it's important to do little test projects, rather than attempting a full project, to see if it's viable. Find the parts that need to be adjusted before making too much of an investment--emotionally or financially.
2. See things as they truly are.
When you are not distracted or caught up in the ongoing cycle of highs and lows, you are able to practice mindfulness to see everything as it truly is. This helps you stay engaged with customers, employees, and team members, and thus be more receptive when they share valuable insight and suggestions (both positive and constructive). I find that customers need to get frustration off their chests, so it's important that those moments don't affect me emotionally. By approaching the situation from a neutral mindset, it's easier for me to pause and listen to what they have to say.
3. Get less stressed over things you can't control.
A 2016 survey from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that 44 percent of working adults say that their job affects their overall health. Stress and anxiety are the most common causes of work-related health issues, but non-attachment can help.
4. Change your idea of excellence.
Do you need to always hear positive feedback or see big sales to feel that you have succeeded? If you alter what you deem as success (or failure), you can change your reaction. For example, compliments are great, but they are not a true measurement of who you are or your work. Think about how you approach online reviews. They are helpful, but are never an accurate marker of a business's customer service. Keep in mind that this doesn't mean that you have to lower your bar, but only that you are not bound by what others may think of you and whether or not they think you are successful or not. This only causes unnecessary stress and can mislead you to make decisions not in your business's best interest.
5. Prepare for known ups and downs.
Many times, you know when your business has its peaks and valleys. Use them as a teaching moment in which you can mentally prepare for what is to come. For example, I quickly learned that there was a strong seasonal aspect to my yoga business. When the slower summer months arrived, I felt I had to close the doors until business picked up again. Instead, I used this time to step back and create a short-term business strategy like offering only specific classes, or experimenting with new ones and offering special customer incentives and programs. This way I was never disappointed by the slow times because I knew what to expect. I planned for it financially so the business didn't falter during those time, and kept my mindset positive knowing that it wouldn't last.
Good and bad things happen in business every day. We tend to get too invested in the high times and regularly rely on them to stay focused and motivated. At the same, we can often feel trapped in the down times and find it difficult to find our way out. However, by practicing non-attachment, you can learn to steadily focus on doing the work needed to be successful and get off the emotional roller coaster of highs and lows that are inevitable in work and life and which you often cannot control.