Save your sanity in 5 minutes a day
Creativity is one of the hallmarks of entrepreneurs. Usually this is a very good thing; after all, many successful businesses have been built by those who had the vision to see an unmet need and the creativity to develop a way to fill it.
However, if you’re not paying attention, there are several situations in which your creativity actually can become a Bad Thing. This happens when you unleash your creativity on identifying:
- all the ways a project can go wrong or fail to live up to expectations
- all the potential obstacles between you and your goal
- all the things you don’t know when it comes to HOW to accomplish said project
Creativity run amok is crazy-making.
The good news is that there’s a simple (although not necessarily easy) way to save your sanity: Choose wisely.
Remember that scene in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade where the head bad guy has to select the Holy Grail from dozens of options? Turns out he was wrong, and when he drinks from the cup he chose, he ages, decays, and is destroyed in about 30 seconds. As the ancient knight guarding the Grail puts it, “He chose…poorly.”
This is not the route you want to go.
Instead, you want to save your sanity by making your choices work for, not against, you. Instead of going kind of crazy by choosing to dwell on what might go wrong / what it will cost / how hard it will be / how unfamiliar and scary it is / yadda yadda yadda, make the wise choice to focus on what you can do; this will help you stay sane and stable. Here’s how.
Smart choices keep your energy, creativity, and confidence high.
When you choose to focus on lack – what you don’t know and don’t have – it’s incredibly easy to start feeling like an incompetent, underachieving, never-gonna-make-it slug.
This mental and emotional state will not do much to enhance your business.
If, however, you choose to focus on everything you already have – knowledge, resources, past successes to serve as examples – you’ll be able to act as your own cheering section. You’ll get your endorphins running, your mental wheels greased, and your creative juices flowing. And that’s the mental state to be in when you approach any activity designed to build the business you long for.
Choosing to stay focused on positives goes a long way to keeping you from beating up on yourself.
Negative self-talk can become a habit – one that’s essential to break if you want to accomplish anything worthwhile.
While it’s impossible to think only positive thoughts about yourself, I’d bet money that you’ve got plenty of room to add more praise and encouragement to your self-talk. This will do you only good. Not only can you start to break the old habit of negative self-talk and replace it with a habit of positive; you’ll also find it much easier to catch yourself in the process of beating up on yourself.
Here’s another situation in which Newton’s First Law of Motion can work for or against you. Remember what he said: An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion…unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.
Courage + positive focus + action = success.
So if you choose to focus on what’s not working, you’re likely to stay in that counterproductive mental groove. But if you consciously challenge yourself to identify what IS working, you can make it easier to stay in that optimistic, “this is do-able” mode.
When you’re poised to get caught up in either an upward spiral or a downward one, which route will you choose?
Acting as if you’ll accomplish what you desire is a good way to meet the Universe half-way.
Think of the last person you ran into who was all talk and no action. Impressive? Accomplished? I don’t think so.
It’s been demonstrated time and again: Those who are willing to act get better results than those who just talk and think and plan without ever actually getting their rears in gear.
That’s not to say it’s always easy or comfortable to take action; far from it. However, when I find myself trying to wimp out of taking action, I use two favorite sayings to get myself in motion.
“The Universe rewards action.”
“Acting as if it’s real ultimately makes it real.”
When you take steps toward a goal – even baby steps – it’s like rattling the cosmic bushes: You announce you’re doing your part to make things happen, and you’re ready to accept whatever assistance the Universe sends your way. (Yes, yes; I know this is a bit metaphysical sounding. That’s okay. This stuff works.)
And acting as if – as if you’re already successful, as if you know what to do, as if you’re confident in your ability to make things happen – is a powerful way to give yourself permission to get in motion. Your action plan doesn’t have to perfect, with all contingencies anticipated and planned for; it just has to be implemented. You know from past experience that you’ll get feedback (from the market, clients, the Universe…) that guides you to your next steps.
Maintaining an “I can do this” attitude makes it a lot harder to stop yourself dead in your tracks.
Have you heard of self-efficacy? Here’s what the American Psychology Association has to say about it: “Self-efficacy refers to an individual’s belief in his or her capacity to execute behaviors necessary to produce specific performance attainments (Bandura, 1977, 1986, 1997). Self-efficacy reflects confidence in the ability to exert control over one’s own motivation, behavior, and social environment.”
In less stuffy lay terms, self-efficacy is all about choosing to believe you’re capable and competent and can make things happen.
And when this is how you see yourself, you’re far less likely to get hung up on obstacles, uncertainties, and past mistakes. Instead, your default will become acknowledging what didn’t work (without being dragged down by it), learning from it, and choosing to believe that you can use past experiences to figure out how to succeed in the now.
I had an opportunity just the other day to put all these recommendations into practice, so I know they work.
I’d asked one of my MasterMind buddies for input on several opt-in offers I’d created, and her feedback was a bit of a mixed bag. On the one hand, she told me she considered the content to be some of the best work I’ve ever done. Woohoo! On the other hand, she threatened me with bodily harm if I offered them at no charge, saying that virtually all of them deserved to be revenue-generating products for me. Uh oh.
Naturally, I basked in her kudos, since there are few business professionals I respect more than Pat. But hard on the heels of the basking came a whole litany of things to worry about. (They all fell under the general of heading of, “Holy crap! That makes for more work that I’m not sure I know how to do.”)
It would have been so easy for me to get focused on what I didn’t know and all the additional work Pat so generously outlined for me. Since I’ve messed myself up that way in the past and didn’t want to go there again, I opted instead to take a deep breath and choose to focus on what I know I can do right now: Create the remaining products I have in mind, tweak the completed ones, outline the tech stuff I need help with, select my tech resources, and so on. This approach kept me from going nuts and hyperventilating, AND it kept my project moving forward.
How does this resonate with you? Can you see ways in which you’ve set yourself up for success by your choices? Can you also see ways in which your choices have sabotaged your results and made it harder for you to forge ahead?
If there are more of the latter than the former, you owe it to your business to get out of your own way – and that’s something I can help with.
My specialty is getting entrepreneurs unstuck, whether their stuckness is a result of overwhelm, unfocused busyness, or crappy self-talk. While I know I could help if any of that describes you, there’s no way of knowing whether that would be a good idea for either one of us.
If you’re going nowhere fast, grab a spot in my calendar for a no-charge, no-risk-to-nobody, get-acquainted call. We’ll spend some time asking and answering questions and deciding if we’d do great work together.
And if you’re choosing to put off that decision, I’d say that’s a damn good clue that you need someone to act as a compassionate butt-kicker to remove one of the biggest barriers to success – you.
(BTW, thanks to joseloya for posting the image of her crazy-faced sister in the Creative Commons section of Flickr.)This entry was posted in choice and tagged effectiveness. Bookmark the permalink.