Confession time: yesterday I had a bit of a "moment". That's my euphemism for a mini small biz owner freak out. If you're an entrepreneur you'll know what I'm talking about. From time to time all the hats that you're wearing start to wobble. A few of the plates that you're spinning get dropped or at least spin a little bit awkwardly. You try to accomplish everything on your daily to-do list and when you don't get them done - or not done as well as you wanted to for a first attempt - you start to feel bad about it. You blame yourself, or your lack of time, or the fact that you never took a graphic design course in college which would have made the new product you're creating even easier and faster to create (okay that was my moment). My point is, the end of the day arrives as it does without fail, and you haven't completed everything you wanted to get done. Anyone else been there? I'm guessing most of you have. That was me yesterday. In fact it's been me more than a few times before, when I get into that zone in which I start to get - dare I say - irrational in terms of my expectations for myself.
The good news is, though I may not be the best at avoiding these moments, I have mastered being able to talk about these feelings with important and influential people in my life such as my awesome mom (a retired entrepreneur), my patient and supportive husband, and most of all, my rock star business partner and co-founder here at Tin Shingle, Katie Hellmuth-Martin. Thanks to them, along with some serious looking inward, I've learned a few lessons that are helping make these "To Do List Freak Outs" easier to deal with and move on from. Check them out below and perhaps print them out (or bookmark them) to read over the next time you feel the same way. As a small biz owner you cannot simply let these things fester or go unattended because you have to take care of the machine (you) that runs your business, inside and out. You have to make sure he or she runs smoothly and is taken care of, or you simply will not be able to do your best work. So let's grease that machine up with some healthy and productive mindsets and lessons. Here we go!
Lesson #1 - What Drives Us Can Drive Us Crazy. Learn When to Listen to Your Internal Voice and When to Mute It.
The same part of you that pushes you, drives you to do your best, to start a business, to push boundaries, to take on tasks you have not been trained to do, to work harder and longer and smarter than you even realized you could - that voice inside of you that drives you can also drive you crazy. That voice is sometimes unfair to you, telling you that you aren't doing enough, that you aren't as good or fast as someone else, and on and on. Well sometimes that voice just has to be muted. Learn to tame it. To master it. Learn when to listen to it: when it helps you dig deep and keep going and self-motivating. Learn when to mute it: when it's making you feel flustered or when it's too hard on yourself. Also, learn that this mastery takes time. Just beginning to identify when you need to reach for that symbolic mute button is a step in the right direction!
Lesson #2 - Learn to Identify When Your Expectations are Too High or To Do Lists are Too Long
I believe that there are times we do ourselves a disservice as entrepreneurs. We pride ourselves in our ability to "do it all" but we have to remind ourselves that we do not need to do it all at once. I'd rather you accomplish three things a day and do them really well, then pressure yourself to do ten things that will only get partially done and lead to a full on "moment". Personally, I'm slowly learning to identify when my expectations for myself are getting too high or unrealistic, but that's not all. What I'm also learning - which is even more important for me - is that even when they are do-able and realistic in the time frame I've allotted them for, they will not always get done. At times circumstances, the environment, unplanned events and so forth just don't let things happen as I planned. And that is life, and that is okay...and it is also the next lesson...
Lesson #3 - Sometimes Even the Most Realistic To Do Lists Will Not Get Done the Way You Want Them To
Being flexible is hard. Whether it's touching your toes or learning to let your best laid plans be fluid and adjustable, flexibility takes practice, but the more you try the easier both things become. That's not the only thing that happens to your advantage. By being more flexible with your plans, you'll actually get more done, and feel better mentally and emotionally throughout the process, and that my friends, will help you excel at business more than before because a large part of the "game" of entrepreneurship is a mental one. As Dwight D. Eisnehower said, “In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” If you're more into a modern take on it try my man Tony Robbins who reminds us, “Stay committed to your decisions, but stay flexible in your approach.”
I often can be found telling people to, "plan your work and work your plan", but throughout that remember that at the root of your plans, and your business and your professional life is YOU. You the planner, the foundation, the leader, the mental and physical motivator, the creator. Though responsible for doing all of those things, and making great decision to further all of those things, your biggest responsibility is to yourself. Make those plans and make them good ones, strive to complete them, but most of all, make sure you're taking care of yourself in the process and that more and more of your "moments" are the wonderful kind!