Do you really love your business? Be honest. Do you get up every morning and think ‘YESSS!!’ as you punch the air, leap from your bed and throw open the windows—filling your lungs with the fresh morning air of another business day? Or is your main priority to justify another five minutes to catch up on your sleep before you pull on yesterday’s underwear…again.
Working for yourself. It all started as a dream, a vision, an inspiration, didn’t it? Freedom from office politics, other people’s agendas, the 9-to-5 routine (that seemed to somehow become a 9-to-9 routine). So, what have you achieved? Financially, things are surely different in many respects. By the way, have you actually worked that bit out yet? Your place of work has changed and downsized, and you get fewer benefits. You’re in control of your destiny now, of course, but you must do all the things that others did when you worked for someone else. But you’re free, right? You’re doing what you always wanted to do—at last.
You and your business: it’s a match made in heaven, right?
If you don’t quite see it like that, don’t worry. You’re not alone. Well, maybe that shouldn’t stop you worrying, but the point is that all human beings have a switch that they forget to keep turned on. That switch is the part of you that feels power, love, worthiness, inspiration and creativity. That’s what lifted you, in a combination of ways, out of employment and into your own business—whether or not you thought you had a choice. It’s actually apart from the thinking process, so that’s probably why we tend to forget it. Think about it. None of us wrote a business plan for most of our important relationship decisions in life—who to fall in love with, get married to, have children with. And these have a much bigger impact on our lives than the average job. At the time, something else negated the perceived need to think it through and work out a budget or cash flow projections. The switch was ‘on’. Even when you decided to go into business on your own, it wasn’t the plan that inspired you; it was the dream and the vision, driven by your passion. The business plan came afterwards.
Maybe that’s when it all started to change. It happens a lot in personal relationships as well. After the honeymoon, the marriage can become a process-driven institution that you serve, if you’re not mindful of keeping the switch turned on. You know how it goes—kids, schools, the house, commuting and so on. It takes effort to keep the switch turned on, to keep things fresh, to maintain the passion. It’s just the same in business.
You know that old cherry, ‘work on your business, not in it’. It’s as true for a sole trader as it is for the director of a large company. Once you become an integral process within your own business you’re lost. A hamster on a wheel. It’s so important to keep your distance from it, at times, to maintain your power, vision and passion for whatever it is that inspired you to do what you do. And if the business can’t survive your absence for even a day, then you are serving it. It is definitely not serving you, and you need more than ever to step back and see why that is so and what you have to change to get back in control.
When you are too close to it, worried and tense, you will make worse decisions than when you are clear and relaxed. When you are worried and tense, that’s the time to get away, take a holiday, meditate, go on a retreat, get a massage, run along the beach, work out, spend time with your family. Go completely offline. The problem is that we get so used to keeping the switch off and fighting through—often making things worse—that when problems arise, regaining vision and passion are the last things we want to think about, and we resist what may sound like a ridiculous suggestion. But creativity comes from clear minds, not fearful ones. Solutions lie in the creativity.
Try it. Next time you’re lost in the forest, stop running. Your mind will desperately want to keep going, but you know that the original inspiration for your business came when you stopped accepting the grind and turned that creative switch on. Deep down, you know there’s no going back, and it’s a small risk to take―if it’s a risk at all.
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This post is part of the HP SugarTone contest: “Making your business amazing”, sponsored by Hewlett Packard