How to carry on when you feel like giving up.
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve “given up” in life.
Luckily, many of these occasions have been temporary and never spoken out loud! My internal monologue was screaming “I GIVE UP!” and thankfully I’ve never lasted more than a couple of hours before I give up on the ‘giving up’. I have a bit of a strop, then put on my big girl pants and remind myself that the world is still spinning so I need to get on with it.
It seems that in business, the compulsion to “give up” can be even stronger.
The first few months are exciting, you’re full of ideas, you’ve finally decided to take the plunge, start a business and change your life! You’re in the throes of planning and opportunities seem infinite.
Then, it gets a little more difficult as implementing those fabulous ideas is not quite as simple, or as linear, as you’ve imagined. But that’s okay, you knew that getting into business wouldn’t be easy.
Then, you’re in it and you are running a business…YAY!
But you also feel like you’re working a 20-hour day and the bank balance isn’t reflecting this. So, the doubts start to creep in… “am I really cut out for this?” (aka imposter syndrome, a topic for another post), “why isn’t this working as I planned?”, “when will I ever sleep?”.
Then when family and friends question why you’re not around as much, you start to question whether you’ve made the right decision, “is it all even worth it?”, “Maybe I could just stick it out in a job I hate, but at least I can leave at 5pm…”
You’re working your socks off to try and build an empire — but no one gets it — hey, no-one likes change, in our personal and professional lives, humans love a routine. And running a business is far from routine.
A few challenges, some unforeseen circumstances later and before you know it, you’re ready to throw in the towel….
I understand that this is hard but I’m here to tell you to keep your head up, knuckle down and power through. Find your inner grit and use it.
The first few years of business are hard.
Scratch that, business is hard. Full stop.
It never gets “easier”, there are always challenges, hurdles, obstacles and moments when you want to pull your hair out/cry/hibernate (delete as appropriate), but what changes is you. Your experience, your knowledge, your resilience, your grit.
You will find your feet and become more robust, more capable and more LIKE A BOSS as time goes on. In the meantime, this is how I’ve managed to get through my give up moments:
How to not give up…
Write down your challenges: Okay, stick with me here, this is a lot more effective than it sounds.
Have a brain dump — start a new Note on your gadget of choice, or go analogue with a pad and pen and literally “give it” to that list.
Don’t worry about how it’s written, now is not the time for grammar, spelling or punctuation. Just write down each issue separately and detail what’s going wrong, why you think it’s going wrong, how it makes you feel and what you would do if you had a magic wand to fix it.
What’s the problem?
Why has it happened?
How do you feel about it?
What’s the ideal solution?
Swear until you’re blue in the face if you like — but get it out of your head.
Then, step away from the list, for at least 6 hours. Come back with a clearer head, preferably after some sleep, and read through the issues again.
Prioritise which are “life and death” and which, in the grand scheme of things, aren’t actually quite so important.
Focus on the life and death issues and what you can realistically do to address them. If there is absolutely NOTHING you can do to fix these issues, scratch them off your list and move on. Don’t dwell on things you can’t fix — focus your time and attention on how you can switch lanes to continue moving forward.
Streamline your priorities — You cannot be all things to all people. That’s a fact. So, don’t try.
Stop trying to make everyone around you happy and start saying “no”, now is the time to take care of yourself as much as you can, you need to be your best self, to be able to focus on your business issues, right?
Achieving balance as a business owner feels near damn impossible but is absolutely essential. It can take a long time to learn this, if I could give one gift to an entrepreneur it would be the gift of Balance.
Being overwhelmed, stressed and frantic is just not an option, this will most certainly lead to the destruction of your business.
You must get comfortable saying “no” every now and again for the sake of your sanity (I feel a separate blog post coming on!). If you need help, professionally or personally, ask for help.
“Information overload (on all levels) is exactly WHY you need an “ignore list”. It has never been more important to be able to say “No”.
Dr. Mani Sivasubramanian
Family, friends and team members want to see you succeed, I want you to succeed — so, talk to those around you and see if you can delegate some of your smaller responsibilities so you can focus on the bigger issues.
Get a coach — Which, granted, might sound like a pitch from me, only it’s not. Find someone (anyone) to have in your corner who you can lean on when your business feels like it’s not going the way you want to. The world’s biggest success stories in business (as well as sports, entertainment and more) have one thing in common — they all have a coach guiding them to greatness. Someone to help them to see the woods for the trees, keep them focused, tell it like it is, give them their years of experience and most importantly, listen.
A good coach will always tell you the truth (even if you don’t want to hear it) and help you navigate the moments when you want to “give up” by turning it into an opportunity to refocus, a good coach will help you create an action plan, so you can come out of the other side stronger than ever.
Remember that business success is a series of milestones — Business is not an A to B journey, it’s not even an A to Z journey. “Are we there yet?” No. Not even close.
So, patience and resilience are a must, you will change direction more times than you can count, and that is okay. Just having this at the forefront of your mind can help, knowing that you need only focus on the immediate issues will help keep your mind little less cluttered and your head above water.
Challenges will keep on coming, that’s the nature of the beast, but if we’re honest, that’s why you’re in business — because you like to push boundaries and make a difference, right? So, one milestone at a time….no stop signs, no giving up, no excuses, just keep pushing forward, one day at a time, becomes one month at a time, becomes one year, and so on, as long as you keep on moving.
How about you? What tactics do you use to keep yourself motivated when you feel like giving up? And, how do you make sure you strike that all-important Balance?
Let me know in the comments or find me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter@Kymberlee Jay.