Got that back to school feeling? We’re now officially into September which means the kids are back at school, the evenings are getting shorter and the leaves are starting to change colour. For some people this can be a time of great productivity – especially if you’re celebrating having your home-based workspace all to yourself again now term has started!
However, some of us can find this time of year tricky. It’s not uncommon to come down with a case of the end of summer blues, and this can have a detrimental effect on how effective you’re able to be in your business.
Sound familiar? There are plenty of ways to avoid the blues taking hold! If you’re feeling overly wistful about seeing the back of the summer months, it might be a good idea to keep a few of these ideas in mind.
Avoid going into hibernation with your business
When you’re feeling down, it might seen helpful to immerse yourself in the business side of things. Unfortunately, this is often counter-productive. Trying to distract yourself with work instead of addressing the problem could mean that your blues simmer away under the surface.
Get excited about what’s to come
The weather may be on the turn, but there’s a lot to be excited about come autumn and winter. You may have some big opportunities ahead, professional events and conferences to attend, or even a new goal to focus on.
Recreate the parts of summer you miss
What was it about the summer that you didn’t want to let go? Perhaps you worked at a slower pace, got more fresh air, spent more evenings chatting with loved ones, took more time off, had more time for personal and professional reflection, or worked from a different workspace. Whatever it was, there may be a way you can incorporate more of what you loved about summer into your routine year-round.
Take the opportunity to set some new targets
If you’re in a bit of a rut with your business, setting some dynamic new targets could be an excellent way to give yourself a bit of a boost. I’d recommend thinking about SMART targets and choosing something that helps to get you closer to running your ideal business.
Consider whether you might be suffering from SAD disorder
If you’re really struggling to shake the end of summer blues, it might be worth doing some research on SAD disorder. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a form of seasonal depression that tends to be at its worst in the colder months. If you think this may be a problem for you, I’d recommend having a chat with your GP.
Do you suffer from the end of summer blues? If so, I’d love to hear what you do to shake them off! Why not share your suggestions on the Green Shoots Coaching Facebook page?
Human beings have an impressive ability to make ourselves feel really bad about things. Whether it’s obligations missed, opportunities lost or goals not-quite-hit, many of us spend huge chunks of time stewing on things when it would be healthier to just let go.
Being a business owner has fantastic benefits… but like all responsibilities it can also have a huge capacity for guilt-making.
Before we go any further, let me ask you to think about how your business makes you feel. Some people might say it fills them with a rush of excitement and independence, others might say their business makes them feel stressed and lacking. Most of us, I suspect, fall somewhere in the middle: we have days when our business makes us want to sing happily from the rooftops and days where we’d be quite contented to crawl under our duvets and hide.
The problem comes, of course, when you’re experiencing far more of the duvet days than the rooftop days. In situations like these, I’d want to ask just why you’re allowing your business to make you feel so bad. After all: you’re the one in charge!
Need to reassert that control? You could start by asking yourself the following three questions.
Question one: why is it making you feel so bad?
In order to move on from an issue like this, you need to get to the root of it. Often the first answer you come up with here won’t be the right one: you’ll need to dig a bit deeper to find the true reason. For example, you may think that your guilt comes from not delivering enough value to your clients, but when you look further into this you could discover that the real issue is related to your own perfectionism or self-esteem and is nothing to do with client satisfaction.
Question two: what can you do about it?
Once you’ve pinpointed what the issue is, being able to do something about it will be much much easier! Perhaps the answer lies in new processes, some additional professional support, cultivating a better work/life balance, or even working towards taking on a whole new kind of client. Whatever the answer is, break the solution down into manageable steps and make a plan. You’ll likely find that just starting to work towards a solution will help you start to feel better, even if progress is slow.
Question three: how do you want to feel?
Getting rid of negative feelings means that you’ll have space for better ones! I find that it can be helpful to actively think about what kind of positive feelings you’d like to experience. Would you like your business to make you feel important? Valued? Intelligent? Worthy? Organised? Independent? Creative? In control? Your answers to this question could be really helpful in setting goals for your business future.
If you’re allowing your business to make you feel bad more regularly than you’re comfortable with, please know that there is something you can do about it. Just remember: you’re the boss of it, not the other way round!
It’s also worth keeping in mind that you don’t need to struggle in silence. It’s good to talk! You’re always welcome to share your thoughts with me via Twitter, Facebook or email. You could even take advantage of my free initial consultation in order to try and address some of these problems in person.
Many of the business owners I know live, work and breathe their business. They’ve worked extremely hard to get where they are and are often wary of taking their eyes off the ball for even a moment.
Know the feeling? Though it’s wonderful to have so much motivation and passion for your business, working in this way can start to feel very intense over time.
It may sound counter-productive, but putting a bit of distance between you and your business at key times can actually be extremely helpful. If you’re feeling run down, confused, burnt out or are lacking enthusiasm, it may be time to take some space for yourself.
Here are four ways that giving yourself this space can help you find greater clarity:
1. Distance can allow you to renew and refresh
We all need a holiday from time to time. This is true even if you’re lucky enough to run a business you love! It can be really difficult to take time out when you’re in charge, but putting physical space between you and your usual workspace can help you find the headspace you need. What better excuse to take a trip with loved ones?!
2. Distance can allow you to make big decisions
There are a lot of decisions to make in business. Some of these decisions are small: like whether or not to attend and event. Some of them are much bigger: like whether to take on a large client, rebrand or invest in a marketing campaign. Sometimes when you’re surrounded by these decisions it can be difficult to give each one the attention it deserves. Getting some distance can allow you to make intentional decisions you’re happy with.
3. Distance can allow you to regain some separation between you and your business
This one is a particular problem for personality-led solopreneurs. It can often be tricky to tell where the business ends and you begin. If you sometimes feel like you’re blurring into your business, it might be time to give yourself permission to get away from it for a while. Even a few days totally away from work could give you a much-needed reminder about who you are without your business.
4. Distance can allow you to discover how you really feel
When you make choices in your business, do you for the option that’s best for you or the one that’s best for your business? In a perfect world these two answers would be the same… but often they’re not. Just because something is the right thing to do to increase profitability or success in your business, it doesn’t mean that it’s a path that’s right for you personally. Getting some distance can help you work out if you’re truly happy with what you’re working towards or whether you’re likely to find yourself running a business that isn’t really what you wanted.
Have I convinced you that distance is a really valuable tool in business? Luckily, this is a method of reflection that you can take advantage of without having to get too much physical distance! In other words, you don’t have to actually go on holiday in order to get these benefits. (Though, of course, that can be very helpful too!)
Instead, you could create distance in much smaller ways such as visiting a coffee shop by yourself, taking a lunchtime walk, working from a new environment, signing up for a conference or workshop, giving yourself permission to take a mid-week day trip, or working with an outside professional to gain new perspective.
Want to know more about how you could find greater clarity as a business owner? You might be interested in reading about Taking Care of You, Taking Care of Business, my monthly membership programme.
We talk a lot about mindfulness when it comes to relaxing. Meditation apps such as Headspace and Stop, Breathe, Think have become hugely popular in the last couple of years. Perhaps as a society we’re finally becoming more aware of just how important it is to take care of our emotional selves.
In this post I want to talk a bit about appreciation and your business. When you’re a busy business owner it can be easy to get caught up in rushing from one task to the next without giving much thought to what we’re doing.
In fact, most of us will probably admit that one of the main emotions we experience when it comes to our business is frustration. Frustration that we have so much to do and not enough hours in the day. Frustration that our efforts haven’t paid of in the way we wanted them to. Frustration that administration tasks keep cropping up right when we are trying to do our most important work.
I can certainly see a lot of truth in this. This is a shame as I’m actually extremely grateful to my business for allowing me so many freedoms! Why wouldn’t I be? When you own a business you have the freedom to shape your own schedules, take control of your future, choose which kind of work to take on, create your own workspace and set your own tone for each day.
Considering all these fantastic benefits… I wonder what would happen if we were able to apply the same principles of mindfulness from our downtime into our business.
Being mindful of how we spend our days as business owners could really help us to appreciate the lifestyle our businesses give us.
What might this look like?
While we’re dealing with admin we could also be appreciating the workspace we’ve chosen to be in.
While we’re getting stuck into the big task of the day we could be also appreciating that we’re doing so on our own schedule, not anyone else’s.
While we’re traveling from one meeting to the next we could also be appreciating the fact that we get to make all the decisions that affect our work.
While we’re investing time in marketing and communications we could also be appreciating that we’re able to finance our lives by doing the work we have chosen.
See what I did there? Even a little tweak to our thinking patterns can make a big difference to our outlook.
How could you bring a little mindfulness into your workload today? I’d love to hear your ideas. Share them with me on the Green Shoots Coaching Facebook page.
Do you ever feel like you’re too busy?
It may sound like a very good problem to have, but being too booked up with client work can reduce the time we have available for big picture planning.
Any successful growing business needs time for introspection. It’s important to be able to evaluate what’s going well, what’s not going well and how close you are to meeting any outstanding goals. Business owners who don’t make time for this kind of planning often find that their business drifts forward in a direction they wouldn’t have chosen.
This is perhaps a good time to revisit the concept of working in your business versus working on your business. On an every day basis most business owners spend 90% of their time working in their business. This generally covers all client work, meetings and appointments. This is really important work and generally where the majority of money is made. But that remaining 10%, the time they spend working on their business, is also vital.
Without time to work on your business you would quickly find that you lacked strategy, plans or goals. Your marketing would be likely to suffer, as would your client communications. You may even find that you lose track of the reason you started your business in the first place.
In order to avoid this success trap, it’s wise to ensure you make time to work on your business, even when it’s difficult.
You could do this by:
Scheduling a regular appointment with yourself
If you struggle to find the time to work on ongoing business planning, it might be a good idea to set a regular recurring appointment for yourself in your diary. A couple of hours once a fortnight could really help you to keep on track with your business goals without having too much of an impact on the rest of your workload. Choose a time that’s typically quieter than others (perhaps a Friday afternoon?) and commit to keeping the appointment.
Finding a mentor, coach or accountability partner
Some business owners find it much easier to stick to big picture planning if they involve a third party. What kind of third party you choose to work with will depend on your personal preferences. Some business owners have excellent mentors they can turn to, while others get great results by pairing up with another business owner for a mutually beneficial partnership. If neither of these options are for you, a business coach could support you to stay on track with the work you need to do on your business.
Delegating some of the work you do in your business
Are you worried about how you’re going to find the time? Take a look at how you currently spend your working hours and think about which of the tasks you do really need you to do them. A lot of business owners spend hours every week working on financial, administration or marketing tasks that don’t necessarily need their expertise but take up valuable headspace regardless. Could some of these tasks be delegated to a virtual assistant, bookkeeper or freelancer?
Automating certain tasks
You may find that there are some tasks that you do that could actually be automated. This includes paying recurring invoices, responding to certain types of emails, sending out digital resources, and some kinds of social media posts. Looking at options for automating could free up as much as an hour or two every week.
When was the last time you set time aside to dedicate to working on your business? If you’ve been caught up in the success trap, now is the time to check in with your business plan and ensure things are still moving in the right direction. Not sure where to start? Setting some new goals for moving forwards could be a great jumping off point.
Worrying is a natural human process. Trying to stop those little niggles and concerns altogether would be impossible… but that doesn’t mean we have to let them take hold.
When our worries get out of hand they can really start to have a negative impact. Symptoms of this could be anything from:
- Losing confidence
- Missing out on opportunities
- Failing to communicate effectively
- Avoiding forward-planning
- Not seeing the big picture
- Being afraid to try new things
All of these things could have a big impact on the success of your business, both in the present and in the future. If you feel that your worries starting to take hold, now is the time to do something about it.
Look forwards, not backwards
Many of us worry about things that have already happened. If you find yourself getting caught up in anxieties about things you said, did or thought in the past, you’re far from alone. The thing about these sort of worries, though, is that there really is nothing you can do about the situation they relate to. Instead, you need to make a conscious decision to let go of the past and focus on the present.
Find a way to ‘download’
Sometimes small niggly worries become overwhelming simply because we can’t switch them off. Some people find it it helpful to experiment with different ways of ‘downloading’ this information. This could be by writing it down into a dedicated notebook or digital document, telling someone about it, turning each worry into a diarised action-point or even speaking each one into a dictaphone or voice recording app. You may find that making a note of your worries in some way helps to stop them going round and round in your head.
Some worries are irrational. Others, however, can stem from incomplete projects, neglected tasks, areas of ignorance or protective steps we haven’t yet acted on. If your worries fall into the second camp, why not take each worry as a prompt to take action? Each time a worry crops up, aim to do something productive to combat the source of it. Depending on the time of day and what you’re doing at that exact moment, this could involve actually sitting down to complete a task or two, or it could mean making some helpful notes to use when you next get the chance.
Find a professional sounding board
It can be easier for your worries to get out of control if you work as a solopreneur. This is because you’re likely to have less people around you to talk through issues and concerns with. In these situations, it can be really helpful to find a trusted advisor to use as a sounding board. Regular support from an experienced professional such as a coach could allow you to talk through any worries in a non-judgemental space.
Looking for more tips for dealing with out-of-control worrying? You might find this post on the benefits of behaviour techniques useful.
Owning a business is something many people dream of. The idea of being totally in control of your own schedule, the type of work you take on, the budget, the future direction and the management can sound completely blissful.
But what about the reality?
Being a business owner certainly can be blissful (at least some of the time!) but a lot of people in our position find the reality very different. If you’re finding that all the joy of being a business owner is being sapped right out of you, it can be tough to find the motivation to develop and grow.
Here’s some good news: it doesn’t have to be this way! Huge numbers of business owners get a great deal of joy from their career choice and there’s absolutely no reason why you can’t be one of them.
Ready to make some changes?
The first step to rediscovering your bliss is to work out exactly what it is that’s sapping your joy. A little bit of detective work is likely to help you find the culprit. Sometimes this is an external factor, sometimes it’s internal and sometimes it’s a mix of the two.
Over the years I’ve helped many business owners get to the root of their business blues. I’ve listed some of the most common factors below.
In some ways, a little bit of stress can be helpful. It’s a great motivator and it can encourage us not to procrastinate, can give us vital adrenalin and can help us get the job done. Unfortunately too much stress can be paralysing! Uncontrolled stress is one of the biggest joy-sappers I come across as a coach. If this is playing a big part in why you’re no longer enjoying being a business owner, it’s time to take action. Mindfulness meditation, talking it out and a new exercise routine can all be beneficial, as can addressing the main source of your stress.
Sometimes the business we set out to run is not the business we end up running. This might be due to circumstances, a few wrong choices or even because of demand. Whatever the reason, if your business isn’t moving forward in a way you really want it to it may be time to pause, take stock and consider re-focusing.
Not Enough Support
It can be really tricky to manage all aspects of your business on your own. No doubt you’re excellent at what you do best, but just because you’re a fantastic baker, brilliant PR manager or terrific tradesperson doesn’t mean you’ll be great at all the other parts of running a business. If you’re struggling with your accounts, marketing your business, managing your website or taking appointments, it might be time to bring in some support. Yes there will be costs involved in this, but the time you free up will give you more space for more customer work… not to mention the benefits of the emotional relief!
Difficult Business Challenges
We’ve all had them. Sometimes external factors can seem like they’re ganging up on your business and can cause all sorts of extra stress and unhappiness. It might be because of a demanding customer, a problem with a supplier or a contentious competitor. Either way, a difficult business challenge can dent your confidence and make you feel miserable. It can be really difficult to deal with issues like these on your own. A trusted advisor could help you look at the problem more impartially.
When people dream of owning their own business, there is one reality they often don’t realise: you’ll probably spend a lot of time on your own! This is definitely true in the early days when you may not have the budget to hire additional people. Some people thrive working independently while others miss the hustle, bustle and chatter of a busier office environment. If you fall into the latter camp, perhaps you could look at creating more business partnerships or moving to a co-working space.
Do any of these sound familiar? If so, don’t panic. These are all common joy-sappers that can make us business owners blue. Happily, most of them are fairly straight-forward to address. In most cases talking to someone can make a big difference. You could consider finding a mentor, partnering up with a fellow business owner or hiring a coach.
Whatever you do, please don’t let factors like these come permanently between you and your business owner joy!
Almost all of us are striving to achieve some kind of work/life balance. This can be particularly challenging for business owners: juggling business administration, important work and client communication can be difficult enough before you add in personal relationships, childcare, housework, social events and ‘me’ time!
If you haven’t given much thought to the health of your work/life balance recently, it may be time to think about giving it a bit of TLC.
Here are seven signs that attention is needed:
1. You can’t remember the last time you spent time on your own
During busy periods of life, solo ‘me’ time is often the first thing we sacrifice. If you’re spending your time rushing straight from work into family commitments with no breathing space in between, you may want to reassess how you can find time for yourself.
2. You feel anxious, depressed or irritable at work
Are you enjoying running your business as much as you have in the past? Be honest! If the answer is no it doesn’t make you a bad business owner. It may just mean that your work/life balance has tipped to an unhealthy point. Being more intentional about spending time away from your business is likely to give you the headspace to fall back in love with it when you are there.
3. You’re struggling to communicate effectively with loved ones
Communication problems can be so frustrating, especially when we experience them with loved ones. If you’ve been finding it difficult to talk with your spouse, partner or children, it could be because your business has been monopolising too much of your mental energy.
4. You constantly think about work… even when you’re not there
Even the most passionate business owner needs mental space away from work! If you think about your next professional steps all the time, it’s likely to lead to exhaustion. A good way to deal with this can be to dedicate specific non-working time periods. Find time in your routine when you don’t have to think about work at all.
5. You haven’t been able to fit in any exercise for weeks
Exercise is an important part of both our physical and metal well-being. Whether you like to hit the gym, take a yoga class once a week or get your exercise by taking the dog for long relaxed walks, skipping this will have a real impact over time.
6. You feel guilty and you’re not sure why
Unfortunately it’s common for busy people to have a lingering feeling of guilt. This can often be due to feeling like they should be working when they’re with family and conversely that they should be with family when they’re working! However, just because a lot of us suffer from this: it doesn’t mean it’s normal. If you’re feeling this way, it could help to take some time out to reassess where you are in life and what your priorities are.
7. You’re feeling run down and burnt out
Our bodies are very clever and usually find a way to let us know when all is not well. If you’ve been feeling generally run down for a while now, it may be time to listen to those symptoms.
Think you need to give your lifestyle choices some attention? It might not be as hard as you think. Addressing an out-of-sync work/life balance could be as simple as taking a week off. Often even the smallest changes can have a big impact. If you’re unsure about what the next steps are for you, I might be able to offer some guidance. Why not get in touch?
We’re almost a month into the Autumn term. For many of us this means we’re finally getting back into our ‘normal’ routine after the school summer holidays.
I love school holidays. For me they offer an excellent chance to reconnect with my family and take a well-deserved restorative break. Unfortunately, school holidays can also be very disruptive to work, especially if you run your own business. By the time September rolls around, many of us working parents are keen to get back to reality!
Over the past few weeks I’ve spoken to a number of people who feel they haven’t slipped quite as comfortably back into routine as they were expecting. For whatever reason things haven’t clicked into place and the routines they were looking forward to returning to suddenly don’t feel right.
If this sounds familiar, it might be time for some serious personal reflection. Is there a simple reason why your routine isn’t quite working? Or could it be time for a change? There are a whole handful of reasons why things can feel uncomfortable at this time of year.
For some of us it’s because we’ve got caught up in the ‘back to school’ spirit. There’s a lovely sense of ‘newness’ to autumn, but if you’re no longer satisfied with your career or your business, that could lead to frustration.
Equally, if you’ve taken an extended break over the summer to spend time with your children or to go on holiday, returning to routine could make you more likely to see something you’ve been ignoring for a while.
Some people have a different problem: for them the summer months have been so taken up with constant parenting duties they’ve had no time for personal reflection. Once the children have returned to school and you have time on your own again, it can be an opportunity to focus on yourself and your own needs.
Whatever your reasons, if you’ve returned to your routine only to discover that it doesn’t feel quite right, it’s time to do something about it. The first step on this process is likely to be setting some time aside for some productive deep thinking. In order to make changes and make things right, you’re going to need to be able to identify exactly what it is that isn’t working for you anymore.
You could try asking yourself some of the following questions.
- Are you unhappy in your current job?
- Are you thinking about a new business idea?
- Is your work environment not working for you anymore?
- Does your business need some new investment?
- Is it time to look for a promotion?
- Are you missing out on an opportunity to grow your business?
- Could the time be right to downsize?
- Would you be happier with a different career focus?
- Is it time to let go of aspects of your business that aren’t working?
- Could you benefit from some more support in your business?
- Are you bored of your routine?
- Do you still love what you do?
Whatever your discoveries, it’s not too late to soak up the ‘back to school’ feeling and have a new start this autumn. Even a few small changes could help to make your routine feel more natural and your career or business more fulfilling.
If you’d like to explore more about this, I’m here to talk. Why not take advantage of my free initial consultation?
Illustration by Kroszk
If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you’ll know that I’m a big believer in taking a holistic approach to business. By this I mean that in order to improve how we work and move forwards we need to make sure we look at the whole picture.
When it comes to running a business, the whole picture doesn’t just mean what happens in the office between the hours of 9am and 5pm. The whole picture also takes in how we’re managing stress outside of those times, how we’re spending our free time, the extra work we’re doing during evenings and weekends, how we’re communicating with our friends and family members, our general emotional wellbeing, and our health.
In other words: our success in business depends on how happy and effective we are in all areas of our life, not just our work.
I work with a wide range of business clients. Their businesses vary hugely in size, experience, industry and style, but these same truths come up for them all over and over again. The happier and healthier you are, the more energy, enthusiasm and creativity you will be able to bring to your business.
It sounds simple, doesn’t it? And yet, so many of us fall into the habit of prioritising short term tasks over our own wellbeing. This may seem like the right thing to do for your business in the short term, but it definitely isn’t in the long term.
Could you be making this common mistake?
Ask yourself if you…
- Skip going to the gym to catch up on emails
- Eat lunch at your desk
- Work late into the evening and miss spending time with your family
- Check emails on your smartphone 24 hours a day
- Take on projects you know will be unnecessarily stressful
- Cancel social events to take on extra work
- Eat unhealthy food because it’s quicker
- Schedule back to back meetings with little time to travel between them or catch your breath
- Fail to give yourself time off
- Worry about work when you should be sleeping
- Forget to drink enough water when you’re at your desk
- Force yourself to work when you’re unwell
- Avoid dealing with stress
- Leave work tasks to the last minute
- Run on caffeine and sugar instead of getting enough sleep
- Don’t accept help that’s offered to you
All these things are key signs that you’re prioritising work tasks over your own wellbeing. You may feel that this is the right thing to do, but over time this approach is likely to lead to burnout, lethargy and a big drop in effectiveness.
Luckily, looking after yourself doesn’t need to be difficult. Small changes can make a really big difference to your health and happiness. And even better? You won’t need to sacrifice hours of your day to make them happen!
Here are a few ideas:
Create better working boundaries
If you find that your working hours are getting longer and longer, it might be a good idea to make a conscious choice to create new boundaries. You could make Sundays totally work free or decide not to check emails after a certain time in the evening.
Set yourself a healthy eating and drinking challenge
How much better might you feel if you were taking more notice of the quality of what you were eating and drinking? Taking the time to make more sensible choices could make a big difference.
Make a choice to take control of your stress
If you struggle with stress, don’t let it spill out into other areas of your life. There are ways you can work to manage this. You could experiment with stress-busting techniques such as mindfulness meditation or yoga… or even just make more time to relax with family and friends. Setting time aside each month to work with a business coach could also help.
Find time to exercise
Thirty minutes a day would make a huge difference to your fitness. What you do with those thirty minutes is up to you! Going to the gym or for a run would be great, but so would taking a walk or practising some yoga.
Have you been sabotaging your business by not looking after yourself? You’re definitely not alone! Why not join me on Facebook for more motivation and inspiration?