I have been trying to build my business for a year and I feel like I am taking one step forward and two steps back. I get motivated and put in a good month of hard work and then find that it doesn’t make much progress, get down on myself and put it aside. I have a lot of passion, a strong work ethic and I will work until the wee hours of the night and on the weekends but it seems like I just can’t gain momentum. Any thoughts?
While it might feel like this is an issue that is yours alone, the truth is that nearly every entrepreneur goes through a variation of this scenario. So many of us think about what we want to achieve and come up with a number of ways to get to where it is that we want to go, but then we skip a crucial step before running towards our goal which is stabilizing our process.
Our process involves the way we execute, but it is born from our hunger and our values. So, before you charge into a new direction, don’t just think about what it is that you’re trying to achieve or the fringe benefits that will come with achieving it, think also about how hard (and smart) you are willing to work to achieve it. It has been my experience that most of us either grossly over or underestimate how much we have in terms of time and resources. This leads to procrastination, feeling overwhelmed, burn out and feelings of failure. When we think we don’t have enough time, we often don’t make time, thus we move forward in our life and hit occasional painful checkpoints (usually triggered by someone else succeeding) where we feel like we are even more behind. When we overestimate how much we can handle, we tend to find ourselves feeling less and less creative, burned out and chaotic as we try and juggle too many different things.
Here are a few things to think about as you plan your process:
What are your values?
When it comes to how you work, interact, network, run your business and interact with clients, what elements are most important to you? Are you someone who wants to create maximum social impact? Make a lot of money and move onto the next thing? Identifying what truly motivates you (without judgment) is a great starting point as it will serve as your compass as you begin to build your strategy. You will be able to prioritize your tasks with much more clarity.
How much can you really handle?
If you have ever felt that pressure on your chest as you think about “all of the things” you “have to do this week”, you know how overwhelming a long list of items on a task list can be when you don’t break them up into chunks. Learn to prioritize your work and find ways to delegate tasks that you do not need to handle firsthand. Ask for the support you need and don’t just assume that you cannot afford to hire help for some things. There are plenty of students who would be happy to earn a few extra bucks each week while learning about an industry they are interested in.
Overcome obstacles before they become problems.
What are the things that distract you? How well organized are you? What would you say are your biggest challenges have been thus far in terms of achieving the success you’re looking for. Whether it’s signing up for a new class, downloading Trello, scheduling time for email and Instagram in order to be more productive, setting yourself up for success requires that you have tools and skills that will support you at the weakest moments at the ready.
In closing, I want to take a moment to remind you that success is not only found in the final achievement but in the progress that you make day after day, week after week, month after month and so on. Keep on investing in yourself (time, money and energy), just invest wisely.