Ever have one of those days when you feel like you just
can’t gain traction? Maybe you’re tired and feeling unmotivated, or perhaps an
opportunity you thought would be perfect, fell through and you’re bummed. The
fact is, we’re all going to have days when we feel like giving up, getting
angry at the world or pulling the covers over our head until everything is
When you’re running your own business, these days can be
especially draining because there isn’t a clearly defined assignment in place
with company practices on how to complete it. You may have a goal (i.e. grow
your business) but that can mean 100 different things and have 100 different
ways to get there.
I find when I’m having a “bad day”, trying 1 or more of
these techniques can get me out of a rut.
Remember that tomorrow
will be better
Don’t let a bad yesterday dictate your days to come and
build into a week or more of “bad days”. It’s easy to beat yourself up for the
lack of productivity, put added pressure on yourself to make up for it and
start each new day with guilt, instead of letting the past be in the past and
starting over. Accept that today is not great but it doesn’t mean it won’t get
better. Give yourself permission to have a less than stellar day without judgment.
This isn’t to say you should wallow in it. It’s simply
allowing you to have an off day without beating yourself up over it, feeling
guilty or spiraling into a “this will never work” mindset. Without the bad
days, we wouldn’t appreciate the good ones. Ups and downs are a part of life
and you need to roll with it.
You don’t have a boss breathing down your neck telling you
what to do and when to do it, so take advantage of that. There will be some
deadlines you do have to strive for regardless of whether you’re having an off
day or not, but when you’re having an aimless day, switch directions.
If you’re working on making stock but needles are breaking,
thread is tangling and mistakes are happening, step away. Generally when we’re
having trouble focusing on the task at hand, it’s because our mind is somewhere
else. What do you feel like doing today? Maybe you need some interaction (even
if it is online) and you should work on connecting with new customers and
businesses through social media. Post some comments, search for new accounts to
follow or reach out to like-minded companies to start a convo about
collaborating. Perhaps you need some therapy through writing and getting your
thoughts out, why not work on a blog post?
Changing tasks but keeping it work related will help you
feel like you’re still being productive. But if what you really need is to go
for a walk and clean your house so you can start tomorrow fresh, do it!
Sometimes we need to take a step back in order to move forward.
Listen to your gut, honor the process and go with the flow. That’s the beauty
of running your own business.
Sort it out
Some days you can’t get started because you’re drawing a
blank and on the other hand, there are days when you have too many ideas on
what you could do that you don’t know
where to start. In our house, we call this analysis paralysis; over thinking
things to the point that you never actually take action. This is when I love to
get out a pen and paper and start making lists. Start with a bit of a journal
entry to sort out your thoughts. Ask yourself why you’re feeling stuck or
overwhelmed and answer by letting all your thoughts, insecurities and fears
out. Asking yourself questions is a good way to get started and find out what
the root cause is.
Once you have determined the source, start jotting down what
you need to do and next action steps. Don’t rush this process; give yourself
the time to think things out and brainstorm all the solutions and nagging
to-do’s that have kept you up at night. Make one, just one, action you can take
right now for each task you’ve written down. Once you’ve completed your list,
take one of those actions (maybe the one that feels most inspiring to you
today) and go to work on that.
“What would (fill in the blank) do”. When I’m really
struggling with what I should do, I like to think of someone I admire, famous
or not, and visualize what they would do. This can spark a bit of competitiveness
to get you moving and it can get you brainstorming about what they might do on
a daily basis that you may be missing. Can you picture the person you admire
sitting on the couch, feeling like a failure? If they’re someone you look up
to, probably not. You might picture them sitting in their office, furiously
typing away, sending emails to important people and making connections. Start
Another take on this is to imagine you’re the best in the
world at what you do; what would your day look like? This not only gets you out
of the mind space “I’m just an amateur, I don’t really know what I’m doing”
that often accompanies these types of days; it also takes you a step (or 10)
beyond what you might typically do. You’re not just going through the motions
and sticking to how you send emails, you’re thinking about how the best email in
the world would be written. You start thinking outside the box and
brainstorming ways that can take you above and beyond with your daily tasks (check out our article on becoming the best in the world for some more details).
As mentioned before, if nothing seems to be working to get
you into the working mood, take a step away from work. You may only need an hour of going for a walk, listening to some music or reading a
book to change your mindset and start feeling better. If that happens, then you
can jump back in and get back to work. The key is to not make yourself feel
guilty for a down day. We all have them and chances are, a month from now, this
bad day won’t matter.