As small business owners we proudly share our successes and celebrations, shouting them from the rooftops, both verbally and digitally. But the not-so-great moments, the moments of anxiety, fear or remorse over mistakes we made, well a lot of us like to keep those to ourselves. It seems we hide them, perhaps because we think that it shows weakness or some sort of failure on our part. Ironically, those feelings we hide are something most entrepreneurs and business owners face almost daily. They're real and more common than we think, and they're also feelings we need to acknowledge and then move on from, as we work listen to that internal voice asking us to stop focusing on what is going wrong, taking too long or mistakes we've made, and shift our minds to think of the positive, what is happening and what we want to happen for ourselves and our businesses in the future.
This shift in our mindset can be one of the hardest things to do as an entrepreneur but in my opinion it is the most essential, because if we can’t "get in our zone", we can’t fully focus, we can't produce our best work, we lose confidence, we lose momentum and things go awry.
As a biz owner the buck stops and begins with us and we MUST keep ourselves in tip top mental shape. So what do we do? As someone who will be the first to admit she has to train her mind regularly to stay in this peak productivity zone, I'm going to share some of my strategies:
Learn to focus on what is happening for you, not what isn’t going your way. Don't just think about it, write it down! Consciously think about them. No matter how big or how small a step in the right direction is, I want you to "anchor" yourself in it! The more you actually focus on these things the more you'll actually begin to see and acknowledge the progress you're making - and boy does that feel good! Don't forget often big successes are a compilation of tiny victories!
- Let go of past mistakes or things you wish had happened. By doing this you make room for more clear and productive thinking, more positive and confident energy, and you open up more "mental real estate" for what really matters, not what has already happened, or never did in the first place.
- Don't feel bad or guilty about moments when you dip into that mental space occupied by anxiety and fear – it’s totally normal in “normal real life” and when you add in entrepreneurship or small business ownership on top of that, well, cut yourself some slack. Those feelings will naturally be part of your life from time to time. The key is not to let yourself spiral deeper and deeper into them. Acknowledge them, and then move on realizing they are "things that happened" they don't define you.
- Learn to let go. When you mess up (which is something all of us do as business owners from time to time) just say to yourself, “well I’ve learned my lesson now, I forgive myself, I won’t do that again, MOVING ON!" and then actually move on.
If you do have moments when you start slipping into the quicksand of self-doubt or anxiety, it's important you get yourself unstuck as quickly as possible so that you don't waste precious time or energy. Here are some quick ways to snap out of it:
Move - as in get up and get physical. Take a walk, walk around your house, just step away from your computer for a bit. Sometimes a simple change in physical position helps shift our emotional state as well!
Take a break. All work and no play isn't good for anyone. If you don't give your mind and body time to re-energize and recover, "reboot" if you will, your work and your mental state will begin to suffer.
Turn to your go-to pump-yourself-up strategies. Don't have them? Get a list together. Figure out what it is that makes you happy and motivated. Is it music? Connecting with a friend? Getting pumped via Tin Shingle podcasts? It's important to know what does it for you ahead of time, and be able to turn to them when you're not feeling your like your amazing, all powerful, small business self!
- Turn to "success journaling" - chornicling what IS going right - and reflect on it whenever you fear things just aren't going right. It will quickly point out to you that in fact, so many things are going just fine.
Let's face it, no one ever told us that entrepreneurship was going to be easy, but you can make it a more positive and productive adventure by practicing "self motivation" tactics. It's not only good for your mind - it's good for business!