"Joan, I'm working so hard and I'm not getting anything done!" I have heard some version of this cry of frustration by many an entrepreneur. It's a common complaint voiced by those of use who sought the freedom to have complete authority over our schedules, only to find ourselves unwittingly shackled by habitual ways of operating. It does not appear to matter that we are independent professionals or business owners, we live in a world shaped by the rules of corporate life. Most entrepreneurs came from jobs and daily schedules that dictated what to do and how to spend our time. Being somewhat like the long-term prisoner we got very used to the daily regimen. We were told when to start work, take lunch, take breaks and leave for the day. Managers, clients, customers and operating manuals told us what to do and when to do it.
So we get out on our own, having dreamed of the freedom, only to start filling our days with busyness, in a panic from the very start. We don't have a clue as to how to do otherwise.
It's just as difficult to break outdated habits and beliefs when you do become financially successful. Why? Because whatever path to success you took, you now believe - or certainly worry - that it's the only way. You are afraid to let go and try something new. Why? Perhaps because beliefs have been making the decisions all along. And I'm not talking about beliefs based in trust, faith, passion and prosperity!
Consider the following beliefs:
1. I'm easily distracted 2. I'm not an organized person 3. I do my best work under pressure 4. Really successful people start work early and end late 5. When you own your own business, you have to work long hours, especially at the beginning 6. If I keep enough balls up in the air, some are sure to land. 7. Work…hard… nose…to… the…grindstone (Arrgghh!) 8. If I'm having fun it must not be right
1. I can't take time off - I need the money 2. I don't know how to say "no" to others (or to crappy work or to crummy clients) 3. I never have enough time for myself 4. I'm responsible for everything in my business 5. In this bad economy…fill in the blank
It's no wonder we find it difficult, left to our own devices, to figure out how to structure our day so that we achieve that seemingly elusive balance between success and personal well being. The two needs appear to be at odds with each other. It's a rare few that have the good fortune to understand how to create a structure that effectively serves both needs.
The goal is to be able to make good decisions about how your spend your working time with confidence, so that you are effective, having fun and leaving room for your personal needs and commitments. The goal is to be able to make such decisions from a place of certainty, trust, and faith in yourself, and 'the universe.'
How Unexposed Beliefs Impact on Your Business Decisions
1. To get started thinking about the impact your beliefs have on how you decide what it takes to be successful in business, pick one from the above list that isn't one of yours. Imagine if it were yours. What impact do you think it would have on you? How would it impact your ability to make sound decisions about what it takes to be successful?
2. Now take a look at something you know you do believe, a belief or a habit that you can't seem to shake. If you are having difficulty coming up with one, think about what you complain about to your friends, family or colleagues. Think about the story you tell people over and over. (This is the part that can make you squirm. It's okay. No one is around but you right now.) We are looking for the ugly, wonderful truth.
3. Take the belief you identified in 2 above and make note of how it could be impacting your decisions, your ability to set boundaries, your willingness to take time off or simply stop working before 5. (Yes, I meant before 5.)
4. Over the next week, take some time to observe and note every time this belief "pops up" to influence your decisions.
Just taking these few simple steps can loosen the hold that outdated beliefs have on your decisions from this day forward - no kidding. The beliefs are no longer in the background, in hiding, and running the show. You now have a chance to loosen their reins.
Bonus Step: If you want to go one step further, write down a new belief to replace the old belief. Review the new belief every day. Put it up on your mirror, bulletin board or computer. Feel the belief, look for evidence it's true. If the old one comes to visit, say hello, bid it adieu, and then replace it with the new belief.
Willingness, the Final Ingredient
Ask yourself this: Am you willing let go of your story and do whatever it takes (even to feel like a fool) to have the freedom and the success that led me to start your business in the first place? If you are, you can.