We studied Systems Theory as part of sustainability curriculum in graduate school. One of the foundational concepts is that the "whole is greater than the sum of its parts."
Take the human body for example - we are made up of several complex systems (nervous, respiratory, circulatory, musculoskeletal, digestive, etc) and together they create one heck of a unique human (the whole). It's not just these parts that make the human... it's how they work together, in connection. If one of those parts is not functioning well, it impacts the whole system.
Sometimes when we are feeling burnt out in business or life in general, it can be helpful to examine the connectedness of our "systems" and energize and deepen the connections that might not be functioning as well as you want them to be. Such...
My family loves to go river rafting. This summer we hired professional guides and paddled in the Grand Canyon. It had been awhile since we were in someone else's boat, following their commands, and we did so willingly as it felt like the stakes were high.
I loved watching the Guide read the water ahead and then tell us to paddle forward two strokes or four or paddle hard or take a break. Each of those commands represented a strategy to navigate the moment - fully knowing what's coming up around the riverbend.
Taking a break becomes a super important strategy to be able to sustain the paddling through the big waves.
It's no different in navigating business.
We know that success comes from showing up, doing hard things, and building systems over time that will make your operations more effective and efficient.
We make waves on purpose and sometimes by accident- and if we are following the river analogy, we won't be able to sustain our work without...
Chances are if you are feeling burned out in your business, you have some thoughts or belief systems that aren't helping you.
I think it's important to remember that no product, service or system is created without a vision and a belief that it is possible.
If you are struggling to believe, it's time to tackle those limiting thoughts and make a choice of what you want to believe on purpose.
Why? Because our thoughts and feelings determine our actions and behaviors which lead to our results.
If what and how you think is paramount to your future desired state, don't you think it's crucial that you "mind your mind" and change it if need be?
The first step in this process is to track your thoughts and become more aware of the current beliefs that are swirling around up there.
What thoughts or beliefs do you have about your business - that might not be serving you?
As you track these thoughts, notice the sensations or feelings that come up for you.
Then, make a...
Some goals are measurable and some are intangible and hard to quantify but are just as important to plan for and to track their success.
At the beginning of each week I set the intention for where I want to put my time, energy and focus both in my personal life and in my business. At the end of the week, I reflect back and see if my actions followed my intentions.
This routine allows for some closure to the week and some clarity around where I am on track toward my larger business and life goals.
These are some of the key questions I ask:
What went well this week?
What went off the rails and why?
What did I learn?
How did or do I move forward?
Who am I grateful for this week?
How did my actions create a positive impact at home, work or in the community?
What is one tiny way I can celebrate (however big or small the accomplishment)?
This weekly practice has a cumulative impact over time as it helps to create new intentions and...
Thinking about the end of your business while you are starting it or navigating its growth can seem counter intuitive, but it can actually be one of the most powerful planning strategies. This process can be just as much fun as planning an adventure, road trip or vacation.
In each of those scenarios, you are likely to have a purpose for your adventure, a destination and some idea of what you want to experience, right? And at the end - you can picture getting home safely, having some time to decompress and unpack, and then having memories to return to.
Your business is no different. All things eventually come to an end and it can bring great peace and joy to know what that desired state looks like ahead of time, so that you can make decisions along the way to support that end.
While some of these ideas have been interesting...
When we lose site of our vision and purpose in business, this leads to feelings of overwhelm, "swirling" in indecision and ultimately feelings of burnout.
One of my favorite exercises with clients who are just starting out or re-visioning their businesses is to go back to the core drivers and values...the big "why's".
I have found that spending time answering these basic, core questions can result in insights that I wasn't expecting (both for myself and my clients).
For example, if one of your "why's " is more time freedom, but you find you are glued to your computer with endless feelings of "there's not enough time"- then something is not in alignment and its worth exploring strategies for making a shift.
The true "bottom line" in business is not how much money you are bringing in... it would be better...
I'm guessing you have heard the term "reap what you sow." Unfortunately, our hard work doesn't always equate to desired results. Sometimes things don't go as planned, we don’t get a return on that investment, or the seeds we've planted don’t grow ( OR the frost comes right before harvest :).
Regardless of your current situation or the outcome of your efforts - you can harvest joy and REAP reward by following these simple steps:
R - Rest - rest is critical for your body, mind and spirit to renew. It is also critical for decision making and prioritizing. If you are feeling a lack of joy or increased chaos- sleep on it! If this is hard for you...consider mediation, slow walks in nature, warm baths, healthy diet and turning off the screen.
E - Explore Your Nature - each of us are equipped with an internal navigation system that lets us know when something feels “warmer” or “colder”. Track yourself...what interests you?...
I think we all know that it's dangerous to compare ourselves to others, right?
What good becomes of it?
Yet its human nature, like moths to a flame, to take a peek at others' lives and businesses and do a little comparison.
This can be a helpful exercise and can serve you when you are looking for new models, a way to differentiate yourself, or inspiration. It can be harmful when the comparison leaves you feeling like who you are or what you are doing might not be enough.
If you find yourself in this situation, consider trying this deliberate activity of compare and contrast by answering these three simple questions:
As you are answering these questions, notice which answers make you feel stronger and more confident. Consider how you might put more intention and focus there.
What would it feel like to be successful in your business?
Have you thought about it that way?
What if the indicators of success were made up completely by you?
Many of my clients come to me feeling overwhelmed with how they will make their businesses financially sustainable.
While having financial goals is an important piece of the puzzle, I have noticed that even when the money is in the bank, that doesn't mean you will feel successful.
Why is that?
I have a hunch it's because our culture has a tendency to put the pressure on to say it's never enough. We need more security, more systems, more growth, blah blah blah.
Is that true?
What if what we really need is more joy, connection, and space for creativity?
What if focusing on those indicators of success would help the bottom line?
I love late night comedy.
This past year it hasn't made me laugh as much as I wanted it to- but I still appreciate the ability to take challenging and painful situations and find some way to make something funny.
The other night I came across a Daily Show video about women in the work force and how they have disproportionately (compared to men) lost their jobs or left their roles due to the challenges of the pandemic. While it was funny that all of the incredibly intelligent women being interviewed were simultaneously caring for their children (on screen)- I know how not funny it is when you are working at home and facing a deadline, or working with a client and your most important little (or let's be real, also adult) humans need something.
Back in October, NPR reported that women were leaving the work force at four times the rate of men and from what I can tell based on various other reports, those trends have not slowed down since.