The background issue in running your own business is that it can take over the rest of your life, and even affect your way of looking at the world. Customer fulfillment, logistics, marketing, publicity….the calculating mindset needed to juggle all those things focuses on what gets the most bang for the buck.
When that kind of hyper-focus slowly spills over to the rest of your life, some things drift to the periphery and languish on the sidelines. They don’t seem urgent, they’re not a problem for now, and you got more pressing things to attend to, right? Right. And so you go on.
That is, until the niggling signs surface. Having a touch more irritability. Being a little bit more snappish. But of course, who wouldn’t be, if they woke up with back pain. And maybe achy fingers, too. And the tired eyes? Well, that’s just part of the job, right? And if you want to sleep in on the weekends to recover, your friends and family will understand. You’re tired. You’re not up to seeing them right now.
And so, part of what suffers can be your health and your relationships. Part of that can be the rest of the life you’re living right now. Look at the entire picture, and not just the specific sections that take up your time. We’re talking about taking a 360-degree look-around here — something we need to do every once in a while to recognize our bearings and truly take note of where we are in our lives.
That kind of examination asks for a quiet place, a calmer mind, and focus. This is so you can flush the mental mosquitos out and pin them to the wall — or in this case, write them out and pin them to paper, like bug specimens.
Just like how an exploded blue-print can show you how the elements of a particular design work together, writing down the main and supplementary details of your regular activities can show you were things are not working for you. But, first, you have to clear your mind before you start.
Preparatory reading: How To Clean Your Mental Gutters With Mind-mapping
Be honest. What takes up the bulk of your workload?
Knowledge of something does not equate to doing that something. If it did, then the diet and exercise book industry would have collapsed under the weight of its own success. Owning a treadmill doesn’t equate to using that treadmill. Witness the proliferation of Craiglist ads offering unused exercise equipment a few months after the New Year’s resolution wore off. In the same vein, merely watching videos and signing up for deluxe training packages does not make you an expert.
So yes, you may have apps, programs, tools, devices and data out the wazoo, but what are you doing with them? More importantly, what are they helping you do? What do you have (resources) and what are you doing (regular activities) that’s are actually dead ends for you? Use that calculating mind of yours here. How much ‘bang’ are you getting for the things you devote the most of your time to? And which parts of your work are giving you the most stress?
How do you get through being unmotivated?
Knowing a tool exists is not enough. Even action isn’t enough, sometimes. It’s consistency, persistence, and the ability to bear the awkward discomfort of feeling like an idiot, especially when you’re changing things up.
Change can happen very fast, but change that you want that also sticks? That takes more than spotting and taking advantage of an opening. It takes discipline, focus, and a support system to keep you going. What do you use that reliably gets you through the slumps?
How good for you is your ‘normal’?
Just because you’re used to something doesn’t mean it’s actually good for you. You don’t have to be locked into doing thing a certain way, or into actions that no longer have or add any meaning or value to your life. There’s a difference between good habits and auto-pilot. One ensures a smoother ride, the other can take you far off-course before you notice.
Examine what you do on a daily basis. How good for you are the things that make up your normal? The process will be uncomfortable. It will be difficult. It will feel like you’ve lost your bearings. But that’s to be expected for all worthwhile things.
- What annoys you now or contributes to your discomfort? How can you remove or lessen their impact?
- What can strengthen you and make you more capable of bearing the load?
- What helps you recover faster and in better form?
Most importantly, what mental practice or discipline you can use to make sure you’re clear-headed, calm, and consciously intentional when it comes to thinking about and deciding on important actions?
The further you go into establishing a consistent practice of good self-care (if it makes you feel better you can call it preventive active maintenance) the more resources you can dive into to get different insights and viewpoints that you can adapt and make your own. You don’t have to do all the suggestions at once, you just need to dip a toe in and acclimatize. Listen to Bruce Lee: “Take what is useful to you, and leave the rest.”
You can check the following resources and articles for further insights and support strategies you can use.
On mental health:
DIY Self Care With Free Mindfulness Training (Palousemindfulness.com)
Helpful articles on identifying and preventing burnout:
The Tell Tale Signs of Burnout … Do You Have Them? (Sherrie Bourg Carter Psy.D. Psychology Today)
Burnout Prevention and Recovery (HELPGUIDE.ORG)
Safe Computing Tips – “Your guide to ergonomic computing since 2005.” The site has product reviews, RSI treatments and tips (repetitive strain injuries) and advice on creating the best workstation for your needs.
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