Pause and Reflect
Sounds very Zen doesn’t it?
It can be, but sitting in a darkened room, smelling the incense with your legs crossed in the excruciating (for me) lotus position isn’t required.
- You’re a business owner;
- You’ve successfully started up your business; or
- You’ve finished your third (or second, first, twelfth, whatever) year of trading;
- You’ve got lots of strong, paying clients (good for you!);
- You’re still in the office (Covid restrictions permitting) smashing it at 8pm;
- Your stomach rumbles – did I eat lunch?
- You suddenly realise you’ve missed date night;
- You also remember that you missed little Johnny’s birthday party last month as well…
Does this sound (even a little bit) familiar? This used to be me 11 years ago. Then something major happened in my life to make me sit back (pause) and really think about (reflect) what I was doing with my business and my life.
I’m not going to go into the life choices here, but I’ll describe two of my business-related reflections:
I loved running around juggling everything to do with the business. I micro-managed everything; I networked at the opening of an envelope; I knew every client by name, spouse and inside leg measurement; my day was full, Full, FULL!!
But think of those issues being juggled as glass balls. What happens if you dropped one by mistake, because you had too many on the go at once? Dropping the occasional one can be managed, but what happens when it becomes more than occasionally?
I thought back on some of the drops and winced! They could have easily been avoided (mostly) if I wasn’t doing it all myself.
Not enough time
There was never enough time in the day to get everything done that I wanted to get done. The to-do list was never fully crossed off. I realised that I’d wake up sometimes at 3am thinking about what I would be doing in about 4 hours when I got to the office. When I got to the office, I was tired because I hadn’t had a full night’s sleep. (Don’t be mard – suck it up…)
At the time, my son was 6 years old. He’d not long started school, but I realised that I’d prioritised work stuff over our time together – I had to, right? I was the sole bread winner and my family’s happiness and well-being depended on me earning enough to put food on the table, pay the bills and being able to afford to go on our family holidays.
I got to work tired, worked my ass off, and got home tired. I can still remember the look of disappointment on his face when I said, “Daddy’s tired, can we look at your [stuff] tomorrow?”.
You get the picture?
This is where a regular “pause and reflect” discipline is worth putting in place:
- It reduces stress – Taking time out from running around with your ass on fire and just sitting still, possibly with a cup of your favourite beverage, even for just 10-15 minutes a day gives your mind a break. With you being physically still, your heart rate slows, your breathing evens out and your mind slows down. You’ll find that you stop worrying about that client call you haven’t returned yet, whether or not you’ll finish everything so you can go on date night, what about…etc. All the distractions going on will fade into the background a little. (Try it…)
- It puts your worries into perspective – Once you’ve found a little quietness, you’ll be better able to sort through your worries to figure out why things are happening and how you can deal with them. You might be worrying about why sales aren’t increasing like you’d planned. Is it because the new salesperson isn’t doing their job effectively? Why aren’t clients re-instructing/buying more from us? Has the market changed (i.e. – Covid…) When the distractions are muted or removed, you can concentrate and bring your worries into focus and think about what’s really important.
- Clearly defined problems suggest solutions – With that gained perspective, once you’ve defined a problem, the proverbial lightbulb often goes off automatically and a solution presents itself. Not always, but often enough, particularly when you think of the reason for the problem from your clients’ perspective. With my son (the “client”) the problem was that Daddy was too tired. Why was I too tired? Figure that out and I could start working on the solution (the obvious one being not doing everything myself, employ someone to take some of the workload off me).
- Allows focus on success – Virtually everybody will at times focus more on the negative than the positive. The vast majority of us, more often than not. But stopping and reflecting on success generates a feeling of accomplishment for a job well done, a happy client, money in the bank etc. A good mood allows the release of serotonin (also known as the happy chemical) from your brain which will further improve your mood, raise energy levels and reduce stress.
How did I solve my issues? Not in the way you might think! I had a successful £1m business with offices and staff and me doing 12 hours a day. When I paused and reflected, I didn’t employ more people. I actually shrank my business down until it was just me and an assistant, doing the work I loved doing, the hours I wanted, with the number of clients I wanted, rather than having to work my ass off to feed “the beast”. I had more time with my family, far less stress and quite enough income to meet my lifestyle needs.
Think about your own situation. Pause, reflect and decide what you want to do…
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