Recently, things in my business have been feeling hard. I don’t mean I’ve had to work hard—I’m not afraid of hard work. Things felt hard energetically. Like I’m pushing a massive boulder up a hill in roller skates hard. Little and big things just not quite clicking into place they way they should, causing an extra dose of anxiety and stress.
I’m starting to work my way out of the valley and up the other side. It’s not like things are magically happening exactly the way I want, but things definitely feel better.
There have been a couple of things I’ve done to help myself through the process that I thought might be helpful to share. We all experience these hard times differently, so what has helped me might not work for you, but it might give you a place to start.
(1) I let myself step back.
Instead of pushing harder to force the things that weren’t quite working, I gave myself permission to press pause. It wasn’t easy. I’m a problem solver. It’s in my nature to try to fix things. But no matter how hard you work, a square peg won’t fit in a round hole. Unless you start chipping away at the peg. Too often when we try to force things, we start losing what makes the thing valuable in the first place. We morph and adjust to something we think will work. I didn’t want to do that.
(2) I told people.
Even harder for me than slowing down was telling people what was going on. I didn’t want others to know I was struggling in any way. I think this is a real problem in entrepreneurial culture. We look around and it feels like everyone else is making progress and we are the only ones with setbacks, so we don’t want others to know. We think it will make us look weak or like we aren’t as good as those around us. But the truth is we all struggle. At different times and in different ways, but we struggle. Only by talking about it
(3) I prioritized ruthlessly.
Managing my time and energy was the most important thing for me. I cut out anything that wasn’t going to either (a) keep my business running—I still had client work that had to be done or (b)
(4) I listened to my body.
While I generally recommend you always listen to your body, especially when it comes to rest, I took this a bit to the extreme and it probably isn’t sustainable, but it was what I needed. If my body needed sleep, I slept. Sometimes 10 to 12 hours a night. If it wanted to move, I went to the gym. If it wanted sugar, I got a cookie. If it wanted wine, I had a glass. If it needed sunshine, I laid outside in the sun. Some of what my body wanted was good for me, and some of it probably wasn’t. What I most needed was not to worry about my sugar or wine intake or how much sleep or exercise I was getting. I simply let my body lead.
(5) I limited input.
I’m a bit of knowledge junkie. So much creativity comes from making connections between things and you need to know about things to be able to make connections. I’m constantly reading or listen to a podcast. I subscribe to a ridiculous number of newsletters. I totally stopped consuming content during this time. I barely even listened to music. I needed the silence and quiet space in my head to process. We can fill our brains too full of information, to the
If things feel hard for you now, or have ever felt hard—you are normal. We all go through this, especially if we are building something like a nonprofit or business. Especially if we are solo founders. Especially if part or all of our finances come from that nonprofit or business.
Don’t be discouraged. Know it’s part of the process. A part that really sucks, for sure. But when you make it through tough times, the success is that much sweeter.