Business isolation is a growing issue and it affects all kinds of people in all kinds of business environments. More people are choosing to work remotely, generally by themselves, losing that day to day connection of working around other people.
At the same time, competitive pressure is forcing people in the corporate world to work excessive hours, leading to extended periods of being alone and a growing sense of isolation.
So what are some of the symptoms of business isolation?
From my experience there are quite a few. We can suffer from a loss of direction, with some uncertainty and fear about the future. This can then lead to a loss of motivation, making it harder to get things done. We might struggle to make decisions and this makes us feel more frustrated, uncertain and isolated. It really can be a vicious cycle, made worse by the fact that few people like to talk about it, as it can be seen as a weakness.
Regardless of the reason, for many people this is a new feeling and one that they don't really know how to handle. For anyone struggling with business isolation, here are my 7 recommendations to overcome this feeling:
1. Never lose track of where you are heading
We need to have somewhere in the future that we are aiming for, otherwise it is easy to flounder and move sideways instead of forward. This means continually revisiting our goals and our successes to ensure we are heading in the right direction. Thinking about the future tends to get most of us excited, we get that feeling of 'what could be' and it spurs us to action to make our future vision a reality.
2. Deal with the facts--don't let your imagination run away with you
When feeling isolated our mind starts to run wild. Will the phone ever ring again, am I going to lose a big client, is my business going to survive? This type of internal chatter will drive us crazy. If you've been in business for ten years why on earth would the phone stop ringing? If you are delivering a quality product or service at a reasonable rate, why would you lose a client? When in doubt deal with the facts--not the chatter.
3. Work on other parts of your life
Spend time doing things outside of your business, the things you love--that give you an interest outside of work. Don't get so busy building a business that you forget to build a life.
4. Find a confidant--someone you can be really open and honest with
This is ideally a friend who knows your business and knows you. It isn't a paid mentor, it is a friend who you can talk openly about anything going on in your world, and discuss things like feeling isolated.
5. Push ourselves to get out more
It is important (really important) that you get out more. This might mean going to a networking event, visiting a client, making phone calls instead of just sending emails, doing errands, even spending time in a coffee shop to work on your laptop. This takes effort and the less we get out, the more effort it takes, but we need to interact with other human beings.
6. Make the extra effort every day
When working away from others, it is easy to stop doing the little things, like making the effort to dress and groom properly. We rationalize this by saying 'well I don't have any meetings today so I don't need to shave, or iron a shirt', which of course is all the more reason why we should. If you are feeling isolated, what are the small things you have stopped doing? Make them part of your daily routine and you will be surprised how much more connected this makes you feel.
7. Last but not least, accept that you are human.
Don't beat yourself up if you are feeling isolated. Don't look at it as a weakness, understand that you are only human and with this comes many needs, including interaction with others. We live in a world where it is surprisingly easy to become isolated, our mission is to work every day to avoid being isolated.