Recently, I watched an awesome documentary about Brazilian race car driver, Senna. The movie is great for so many reasons, but what really stuck with me was golden rule that ALL race car drivers know:
Don’t look at the wall. Why? Because the car will go where your eyes are looking. Instead, they are trained to defy their instinct and look at where they want to go, not what they want to avoid. If that doesn’t drive home (pardon the pun) how powerful and real the effect of our focus is, I don’t know what does.
But entrepreneurship is tough. Our daily emotions might include feelings of exhilaration (you won that pitch….hurray!) to feelings of doubt and overwhelm (how are you actually going to deliver what you said you could in that pitch?). Throw in cash flow issues and a cranky client and you’ve got one roller coaster of emotions going on. So how do you keep your focus on where you want to go, rather than present-moment realities that threaten to take you down?
Here are 4 strategies that help me keep my head in the game:
1) Get some perspective
Talk to someone you trust to give you a loving reality check. Just be sure you choose wisely. They should be invested in your success, supportive, yet willing to give you a little talking to if you need it. My go-to people are my husband (turns out that a pragmatic German who loves you is a good choice) and my accountability group — a fabulous trio of smart, empathetic, straight shooters.
2) Focus on what’s going right
Have you noticed that nine things can be going right, but it’s the one thing that’s not going right that gets all your attention! In this instance, I write a list of all the things that are going well. There’s something about the act of writing things down that makes it really sink in for me. Really go to town and list everything that is good in your life and business, nothing is too small. For me, this is the fastest way to get my focus back where it needs to be.
3) Take Action
So remember that one thing that’s getting your attention? What action could you take to ease your feelings of disempowerment (which is ultimately the root of all negative emotion)? If you’re feeling overwhelmed, could you reach out to that virtual assistant someone introduced you to recently? If you’re doubtful about your ability to pull off the big project you just landed, is there a collaborator you could bring on board to round out your expertise? When we take action, the fear subsides and the problem magically shrinks to manageable proportions.
4) Practice self-care
Have you noticed your less-than-fine moments occur when you’re tired/frazzled/hungry? When I exercise regularly, spend quality time with family and friends, get enough sleep and eat well, I’m far less likely to go to the dark side when life’s challenges arise. Shore up your defenses and your resilience will rise as a result.
I know that if you’re reading this, you’re a freelancer or entrepreneur who’s leaving it all on the mat every single day. What are your coping mechanisms?