We are in an odd time right now. We just celebrated the 4th of July, and for many of us, this year’s celebrations looked quite different from years past. A lot of the clients I am working with are feeling a couple of ways. One, they are frustrated, angry, and fed up with where things are and how it is affecting their businesses. This is understandable, as it is their livelihoods and in many cases, their dreams that are being obliterated. Two, other business owners are feeling nervous and uneasy about the future because they can’t control much at this point.
As a result of all of this, it can be very easy to feel down and get stuck in a depressing place. Honestly, for me, the world looks pretty bleak some days. It can be very easy to fall into a place of constant complaining, where there is mostly worry, fear, and frustration. We can easily become focused on the problems and not see any solutions, which can just make us feel worse.
I know for many businesses, this has not been easy at all. The government loans and grants helped to boost people’s hopes for a bit, but at this point, we are almost four full months into this and we still don’t really know what the future will hold. Many businesses that have reopened are having to shut down again. This back and forth of instability can feel like you are being tossed around on a roller coaster of emotions. And at times, it can feel like it’s just too much.
As a coach, my job is to help my clients focus on what they do have control over and to take action on that. I do believe that how we are feeling during this time is very important and it should not be ignored. However, if we stay in the sadness, fear, depression, etc., we will not move forward. Usually, if we stay there too long, we will eventually give up. I believe there are too many great small businesses out there that should not give up. We need you. This is why I am a coach, to help. Therefore, I thought I would share what I am learning, about myself as a business owner, as well as about my clients during this time, and what seems to help.
Here is the number one question for all business owners right now to be thinking about, ”How do I move forward through this time, even when things are frustrating and uncertain, and I don’t have much control over anything?”
The first step is to turn and face the reality of what is actually happening in THIS moment.
We may not like the reality. We may want it to be different from what it is. However, if we stop fighting against reality, we stop creating suffering for ourselves. As business owners, this may mean we have to admit that our business has to be completely overhauled; or that we have to offer completely new products or services; or we may even have to do business in a completely new way. Life and business are going to look very different for a while, and maybe it never returns to “normal”. I know this thought can be depressing to many, and it may even mean the end of your business as you know it. But the sooner we admit the truth to ourselves about our situations, the faster we can make changes in our business and our life. We can stop holding on to how things used to be and see the situation for what it is. That’s the first step, turning and facing reality. When I accept reality for what it actually is, I stop suffering. I also get clarity around what I can do to start moving forward.
The second step is to take action, but it has to be the “right” action.
I’m a coach. I like taking action. I like helping my clients take action. However, we need to focus on taking the right action, not just any action. We discover the right action when we have clarity. In these times though, it is difficult to have clarity on what to do next. Everything feels so backward and upside down. So what are some things to start paying more attention to yourself? Do you happen to complain about a fair amount about specific things in your business or in your life? Maybe you say things like “if this COVID thing hadn’t happened my business would be….”, or “this government is so…”. Or maybe you are upset because ”I can’t go on vacation,” or, “I can’t do the things I used to do.” If you are complaining about something in your life that you don’t like, it’s time to take a look at that. We call that blame. And when we are stuck in a blaming place we cannot move forward because it is essentially everyone else’s fault as to why we are, where we are. We are essentially being victims, or at the very least, having a victim mentality. I understand people need to vent and you need to get your feelings out. We can do that for a bit, but at some point, we have to get clear and make a choice about what we are going to do. I call it “setting your RAS.” Your RAS is your reticular activating system. It’s a place at the base of your brain that acts as the compass for your brain. It attracts to you all the things you need to achieve whatever your goals are. Therefore, if we are focused on problems, we will attract more problems. However, when we focus on solutions or opportunities to our challenges, then that is what shows up. We tend to receive the right resources, people, ideas, money, etc., that will help us achieve our goals. Therefore, in order to take action, action that will actually lead us somewhere positive, we have to set our RAS on looking for opportunities or solutions.
If you can shift your mindset and say, “You know what? Yeah, this sucks. AND this is the reality of the situation right now, so what can I do to move forward? What are the opportunities out there right now, either for my business, for my life, or for my relationships?” Whatever your challenge is right now, try to turn it around and ask: what is the opportunity in this challenge? Once you start to look for solutions and opportunities, the right actions to take will become very clear.
The third step is to find ways to keep up your motivation and inspiration.
What are the things you do to take care of yourself? How do you stay grounded? How do you practice self-care? Is there something new you can learn? Is there a new skill you can develop during this time to up-level your personal and professional growth? Do you need to find a good therapist to work on some old issues that seem to be showing up again right now? Do you need to hire a coach to help you get your business really where you want it to be? Are there classes online you can take? Is there a new creative skill you would like to develop further like painting, music, or writing? We have to be vigilant about this part. It is really easy to get sucked into depression right now. It’s really easy to just coast along and fall into the space of no hope. When we turn and look at what keeps us inspired and motivated we have to figure out how to incorporate these practices into our lives on a regular, which usually means a daily, basis. Taking care of you is of the utmost importance always, and ESPECIALLY during this time. This will not only help your emotional and mental well-being, but it will also help you stay physically healthy.
I hope this was helpful. I know this time can be really challenging. I am finding that the longer it goes on, the harder it is for people. Don’t be afraid to reach out for support, however, you need it. If you want to chat, feel free to contact me directly as well. I’m always willing to support entrepreneurs and business owners in any way I can. We need you to share with the world what you are here to create. And I am here to support you in doing that.