Recently I was leading a teleclass for ProCoach members and one of the participants reported that she was feeling very discouraged about her situation and lack of progress. She was fearful that her small business would never succeed because of her negativity and lack of productivity.
The focus of the class quickly shifted as others on the call confessed that they also experience periods of discouragement and depression from time to time. The flood of "me too" comments created a noticeable sense of relief on the call. It became clear that, for those of us who are self-employed, feeling down is not an insurmountable obstacle but a common and inevitable occurrence.
I found it easy to relate to the conversation. Even though I am The ProCoach, I have my ups and downs like everyone else. The past month has been very difficult for me. During October we moved both home and office, which involved a tremendous amount of work followed by living and working in chaos for several weeks. The move came at a time when I had booked a heavy schedule of full-day, evening and telephone seminars. I caught a bad cold and laryngitis, making it painful to present the seminars. Two weeks of grey skies and steady rain added heaviness to life in general. And to top it all off, a friend of mine died in a kayaking accident on October 10, which got me contemplating my mortality and the purpose of my life.
Although it was an exceptionally tough time, it didn't keep me down for long. Why? Because I've been through enough of these cycles to know that it is normal to have these low periods. I also realize they are temporary, and that getting down on myself for being uninspired, unproductive and low energy just leads to a downward spiral of depression.
Nonetheless, such phases are bound to be scary for those of us that are self-employed. After all, we're results-based income-earners and we get paid based on how we perform. Losing motivation, focus and productivity can be a serious threat to our financial situation. This is a challenge that we small business owners all share.
It was a powerful moment on the teleclass when everyone recognized that they were not alone in feeling stuck or unmotivated at times. Instead of blaming themselves and feeling like losers, everyone was able to step outside of themselves and look at their circumstances objectively.
The class moved into solution mode, and participants shared strategies they have used to cope when they are struggling with negativity. Suggestions included allowing, rather than fighting, the feelings; recording your thoughts and emotions in a journal; and creating a list each day of things for which you are grateful. It is crucial to pay extra attention to self care at these times. Eat regular and healthy meals while avoiding sugar, fat and fast foods; get extra fresh air and exercise; and go to bed at a decent time. We all agreed that we are especially vulnerable to habits that increase the downward spiral when we are feeling down. The worse you feel, the more intentional you have to be about taking care of your body, mind and spirit.
The above strategies will help you get out of your negative cycles faster. However you also want to maximize the results you achieve when you are tired, discouraged and unmotivated. There are a number of ways you can do that. It starts with accepting that times of feeling sluggish are normal. That realization alone created a huge relief to those on our teleclass. When you are feeling down, you need to lower your expectations of yourself. Do only what you have to do, and use a minimum of energy in the process. It's like having a low battery on an appliance or electronic device. To prevent the battery from dying completely, you operate the device as little as possible and minimize the load when you do use it.
When you feel like you are on a treadmill you can still continue moving forward in your business, you just need to be cautious. Your care and attention to communication can be affected when you're in a slump, so make sure you are specific with other people about what you want and need.
Most of us find it hard to stop doing things we've always done, even when they are unnecessary and we don't have any reserves. Ask yourself what serves you, and practice saying no to everything else. It helps to identify your top three priorities at the beginning of each day and focus on getting them accomplished. Even if you only choose one priority and successfully complete it, it will keep you moving forward. Don't look too far down the road - just focus on one day at a time. I once gave an overwhelmed client the assignment to not make any commitments or plans more than one day in advance. Using this strategy he was able to recharge his batteries in very short order.
All of nature, without exception, goes through highs and lows. That's the cycle of life. If you are not part of that universal rhythm, then you are not alive. There is no such thing as a person who is always up. Instead of viewing your low points as a problem, look on them as a reminder from your unconscious to take care of yourself.
Lastly, remember that we all get knocked down by life at times. What determines your success is how quickly you get back up again. If you can learn to manage yourself through the low periods when you're wondering what the point of it all is, you will become more than successful; you will become unstoppable.
To your success!
Master Certified Coach
The Success Blueprint Workshop - Burnaby, BC
Wednesday, December 5, 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
WORKSHOP SOLD OUT
Master Certified Coach Andrew Barber-Starkey facilitates his newest workshop at the Executive Hotel in Burnaby. This three hour workshop begins with hors d'oeuvres and networking. Andrew will walk you step-by-step through the process of creating a clear and compelling vision for your business and ideal life. He will then guide you through a structured process you can use to consistently achieve your goals, no matter how daunting they may be. Andrew has developed this groundbreaking material through coaching over 5,000 small business people over the past 14 years.
Admission: $29 for one, $39 for two
Registration and details
ProCoach Quarterly Seminars (Members Only)
This seminars includes our "Member of the Year" awards.
Vancouver, BC - Tuesday, January 8
Red Deer, Alberta - Thursday, January 10
Bellevue, WA - Thursday, January 17
Arrange for Andrew to speak to your group
Do you know of a group of 8 or more self-employed people or small business owners in BC, Alberta or Washington State who would be interested in having the ProCoach himself, Andrew Barber-Starkey, as a guest speaker? If so, please contact our office by email or phone.
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Andrew Barber-Starkey is a Master Certified Coach residing in Vancouver, Canada. His coaching program, the ProCoach Success System, is designed for entrepreneurs, small-business owners, self-employed and commissioned sales people who want to double their income while simultaneously doubling their time off within 3 years.
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