When life just seems to be against you...
We've all been there. Those stretches of days, weeks or even months that degradingly chip away at our sanity and our drive. Well, these past few weeks have been just that for me.
As a grassroots entrepreneur, life is complicated as is. You go through days consistently putting your personal life on the back burner, way back on the back burner, while putting all energy and thought power into ‘how to sustain and scale the business of you’. Add in any personal responsibility outside of eating and sleeping - say a DMV visit, dentist appointment, or an oil change - and insert instant anxiety overload. Time is literally currency when you’re in the phases of entrepreneurial bootstrapping. Just as time literally equals food to a nomadic hunter. Every sliver of daylight counts in the hunt for food and the fight for survival.
So, as much as I fret about not having enough time even when I can plan for said events, imagine my stress when something truly unplanned crops up. And unplanned would actually be a poor fitting term for what has occurred over the last few weeks.
My Month in a Nut Shell:
Car accident. Ugh! Something new to pay for and in the meantime riding around on a donut, yikes!
A neighbor called the cops on me because they assumed me to be suspicious! Aren’t all black men -_-
Entrepreneurial financial strains at an all-time high
Down to the last box of contacts 0_0
Car needs an oil change, but I have so many other financial priorities. Sheesh, perfect timing.
Now, the point of this post is not to get into the details of what happened to throw me off my game and put me in a rut. Instead, the point is to share with you how I managed through this and other situations like it. And to break down some of my personal strategies that help me get out of my ruts and eventually get back into my flow. But, I do feel it’s important that you have some context, just so that you can attempt to gauge the level of stress in relation to the strategies I used. Like many of us, I can get pretty stuck in my own head analyzing all the negative. The more I think about all this stuff, the heavier it seems to bare. So here are five strategies that I can consistently lean on to exit this unproductive state and get back into my groove.
5 Steps to getting out of your rut...
1. Stop pretending you know. Sure, the cave is dark and the light at the end may not yet be within view. But stop kidding yourself like you KNOW things will remain bad. Because, the fact is, you don’t know. Things could turn around in your favor and you should be ready to welcome this when they do. Always stay open to receiving positivity.
2. Envision your future best selling (auto)biography. Think about it… it’s trials and lows like these that will make your journey to success so worthy of a best selling read! Your grit and ability to endure these tough moments will make for the best ‘fireside chat’ stories to tell and the best keynote speeches.
3. Lean in towards what makes you smile. Ever heard of temptation bundling? Combine something you get satisfaction out of with something aligned with a task or action. For me, this was allowing myself to eat a bag of my favorite candy while I went through a few dozen emails. Or aligning my morning walks with my favorite comedy podcast. By linking actions with rewards, you’re also linking tasks with positivity, which really helps our psyche to take that initial step towards productivity.
4. Manage and Protect your energy. Managing your energy ideally begins with sleep, but that’s really difficult when you’re constantly stressing over the issues hanging over your head. So I like to begin with something more controllable. Direct sunlight in the morning is scientifically proven to energize the human body, likewise with a glass of room temperature water. I’ll probably never tell anyone to ever give up coffee, but delaying when you have it can help with sustaining your energy. Water and sunshine in the morning rehydrate and help energize you, while the coffee or tea between 11 am - 1 pm will help carry you through the rest of your workday.
Protecting your energy largely pertains to human contact; in-person and digitally. It’s simple, lean into spending time with those who promote positivity around you. Lean away and spend as little time as possible with those who promote ANY negativity around you. This even applies to music and podcast. Limit access to social media by deleting the apps from your phone or create specific time blocks in which you only check social media at, say, four specific times of the day for 15min. max, no more.
5. Baby steps are HUGE. I can’t emphasize enough, every little itty bitty step matters. Don’t necessarily hold yourself accountable for completing an entire task. Break it down into 2 or 3 even smaller steps and see how you feel after each phase. Example: Addressing the ample emails in your inbox. Start with saying you’ll respond to just three, as opposed to a dozen or all or some vague amount. Break it down one step even further. Start with only drafting the response for those first few and see how you feel from there. By then, you’re up on your laptop, so why not draft a response for the next couple more emails. All masterpieces were chipped away at one chisel at a time. The purpose is to just keep moving. The movement will slowly inspire feelings of progression.
Above all, remain thankful for all you do have and just keep grinding!
Here’s an article I found helpful: Secrets for Overcoming Resistance
If you would like support in crafting a personalized ‘get out of my rut’ action plan or would like help identifying particular steps and strategies to achieve your vision, let's connect! Contact me for a free Candid Professional career coaching session @ firstname.lastname@example.org.