If you feel as if things never stop moving and pushing forward, you're not alone. There's a pervasive mantra of "hustle and grind" that oozes all over the entrepreneurial world. Trying to "keep up" is a serious challenge - and a potential de-motivator. In all my years as a creative entrepreneur, nothing is more frustrating than comparisonitis - comparing your progress to someone else when you don't know what they did to get there (wherever "there" is). It's easy to look at someone else's progress and feel jealous, anxious, or even frustrated that they seem to be going faster or doing better than you. It's hard to accept that maybe, just maybe, they're not as successful as they appear - of that they did something to achieve that level of success that's just not possible for you.
Rather than push yourself to the brink of collapse, focus on being effective and maximizing your workday so that you can work when it's time to work, and play when it's time to play. Here are a few ideas to set you on your path:
Set your environment up for success
A lot of business owners know how important it is to have a space for them and their employees to work, but far too often they tend to ignore the ways in which the office can either help or hinder their ability to work as effectively as possible. Create an environment that encourages you, stimulates your motivation, and if you're working with others, stimulates collaboration as well.,
Some of the best office hacks to improve a work space aren't about the chairs, desks, or computers you use, but rather the photos, colors, and music. Yes, go for ergonomics when it makes sense, but also think about what inspires you. For me, that's posting my vision board on my office door, having headphones that allow me to listen to music while I work as well as block out the noise of others in my home, and a plant in a sunny window to provide oxygen and LIFE in my workspace.
What inspires you to work at your best? Create an environment that supports that.
Understand work/life balance
In the opening of my book, The Secret Watch, I mention that work-life balance isn't always perfectly even like the scales of justice. Instead, it's more like a contortionist on a high wire or spinning plates. It's still balance, but it's much more dramatic at times.
One of the hardest things for solopreneurs to navigate is finding a balance so that their career doesn't completely consume them. And sure, you might be the kind of person who’s willing to give everything you can to your Great Work but, you still need time away so you don't end up feeling exhausted or burned out.
Schedule down time and take it, so that you're fresh and ready to work during your designated work times. Recognize too that your efficiency cycle maybe different than other people. If you're a night owl, then don't schedule morning appointments if you can avoid it. If you do your best work in right after lunch, then schedule that time for the most important work you have to do. Go WITH your natural rhythms, rather than fight against them.
Invest in your future
In the same way that your business should always be adapting, growing, and moving forward, you need to be sure that you are doing the same. New challenges come at entrepreneurs all the time and you need to be able to deal with them as effectively as possible. In a world where things are almost always subject to change, adaptability is a critical skill. By focusing on your personal and professional growth you’re investing in your future.
Those investments can be simple (like reading this blog post), and don't have to cost a fortune. That said, it's important to be willing to invest in your growth because not everything is free, and you shouldn't expect it to be. If you want to get the most out of yourself, you’ve got to be willing to invest in yourself. One of the most dangerous things that you can ever say as a professional in the modern world is that you “know enough.” There is always more to learn and new ways to develop.
That said, be careful to avoid becoming a course junkie. Take it from someone with a learning addiction - growth work needs to be selective, otherwise it's not really growth work. Where are the problem areas in your life/work? Where do you need more training in order to be a better version of you? Seek to understand yourself and your world better through the growth work that you're doing.
Lead by example
One of the things to remember when it comes to running any kind of business is that you’re likely to end up working with a lot of other people. Working with colleagues, co-workers, clients, and employees is often a surprisingly delicate balance that a lot of business owners don’t fully understand. If you have employees that are working for you, I believe that whatever standard you hold your employees to is one that you should be willing to meet yourself. If you can’t do that then you’re just going to end up creating an environment of resentment and mistrust among your workforce. Be a model of the culture and behavior you want to see in your company.
Here's the added bonus: even if you have no employees, your clients, colleagues, and contemporaries will see that you walk your talk. That kind of integrity is priceless in today's world.
Remember: you can’t do everything yourself. Know where your limits (and honor them). And stop comparing yourself to anyone else but you. That's the best way to set yourself up for success.
Need support? Level one of the Creative Freedom Incubator is open for enrollment. Get the support you need to grow a profitable, sustainable business doing what you love - without having to sell your soul to do it.