About 10 years ago, I almost walked away from the business I'd been building for my entire adult life. It was on the heels of a bad hire; a COO I thought would take 1-800-GOT-JUNK? to the next level almost bankrupted us instead. And I blamed myself for the failure.
I wasn't the only one; some employees and franchise partners openly questioned if I was the right person to run the company. Honestly, I was starting to agree with them and I seriously considered stepping down.
At some point, we all doubt our career choices and abilities, and finding the motivation to keep pushing forward will feel impossible. But it's the people who find the strength to pick themselves up who go on to become stronger than ever. Here are 7 creative ways to get your mojo back -- even when you think all hope is lost.
1. Change Your Scenery to Take Your Mind Off the Problem
First things first: get out of your own head. Ruminating won't help you come up with productive solutions. At times like this, it's best to step away and go for a run, take a walk in the forest, or get out of town -- do anything that helps you regain control of your environment, and gets you back in a creative state of mind.
When we added our second company,WOW 1 DAY PAINTING, the brand was in need of a makeover. I became so obsessed with redesigning the look that I completely blocked my own creativity. The answer only came to me when I took myself out of the business: I was in a gelato shop in Italy, and a smile drawn into one of the flavors inspired our new logo. Changing my scenery allowed me to clear my head so I could look ahead to the future.
2. Get Back to Basics. Remind Yourself Why You Started
Every business starts with a purpose. When the chips are down, take a moment to remind yourself why you started in the first place.
Five years in to 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, we hit a plateau that prompted me to create our first Painted Picture: a crystal-clear vision for how our business would look and feel in the next five years. It's been the guiding light towards where we want to go, and it keeps us accountable to reach our goals. Whenever we veer off course, we go back to our Painted Picture and it steers us back in the right direction.
3. Reset Your Focus with New (and Improved) Intentions
It's cliche but true: the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result. If your business or career is at a standstill, identify what's holding you back and proactively make a change.
This starts with setting new intentions. Before the re-brand, WOW 1 DAY PAINTING wasn't just stuck; we were moving backwards into negative numbers. It was an expensive, painful decision to change an entire system of franchise partners. But I could see that if we kept going on the same track, we would end up failing completely. With our redesign, we were able to reset our business on the road to recovery.
4. Choose to Adopt a Positive Mindset
The outcome of your career and/or business is ultimately a result of your thoughts, feelings and actions. If you think you're a failure, you'll internalize the belief and be more likely to fail again. Once you're stuck in the cycle, it can be tough to pull yourself out.
I fell into a doom loop after I fired our COO. I had wrapped our entire future up in this person and couldn't have been more wrong about the outcome. I ruminated over how I should have seen the signs and how the situation could have been avoided. Most of all, I felt a lot of guilt and shame for letting my team down.
There is absolutely no upside to beating yourself up with negative self-talk. Instead of fixating on what you should and could have done, focus on what you will and can do differently going forward.
5. Surround Yourself With Passionate People
Once you're back in a positive mindset, surround yourself with like-minded people. Positivity breeds positivity (and it's the same with negativity). So team up with passionate, energetic people who are motivated to reach your goals together.
The COO fiasco wasn't the first time I lost my enthusiasm for the business. In 1994, I almost quit because our culture had become completely toxic. I'd unwittingly created a team that clashed with my values and building the business wasn't fun anymore. But instead of bailing, I cleaned house and started over. Now, we have a team of positive, hard working people all aligned towards our goals.
6. Have a WTF Attitude About Everything You Do
Basically, life is 10% what happens and 90% how you react. If you look at every failure or misstep as a sign that you should quit, you'll never get anywhere. But if you take it as a chance to grow and develop, it's an automatic step forward in the right direction.
For us, WTF means "Willing to Fail." We believe in the value of risk-taking -- even if you fall flat on your face -- because failures are the best opportunities to learn. People with the tenacity to strive for the impossible (and the courage to lean into mistakes) are the backbone of our company.
7. Be Patient
Someone once told me to never make a decision when you're upset or angry. They were right: if I'd quit the business out of frustration and regret, who knows where I'd be now. Success in business (like in anything else) takes time, effort and patience. So the next time you feel like walking away, remind yourself that nothing is set in stone. If you change your mindset, get back to basics, and set yourself on a new course for the future -- you'll be back in your groove in no time.