I talk to a lot of people. And everyone is pretty overwhelmed, some are downright terrified.
Without getting into the state of the world, and deeply acknowledging my privilege and safety, I write this blog not to ignore the state of affairs or even pretend to diffuse the hypersensitive history we are living. I write this blog in a humble attempt to provide those of us who do need to keep working and who do need to continue leading with some strategies and tactics for engaging in their world.
When we’re overwhelmed, it’s impossible to take action. We don’t know where to start. We don’t know what to do even if we could start. It all feels like too much.
Honestly, I’ve blogged about this a lot, but I’ve never blogged about how to stay motivated during a global crisis.
It can be easily dismissed - there are so many bigger fights, so much more impactful work to be done than <insert your business here>.
If I may offer some perspective, the tragedy of this sudden realization is … there has always been suffering, systemic oppression, and staggering inequity in our world. It’s debilitating when you finally see this reality.
By living every day with purpose and choosing every thought and action deliberately to honor and include everyone, and by being humble enough to acknowledge when you’ve fallen short is a strong foundation to build the world we want to live in.
The reason I support and volunteer my time to mentor small business owners is that I feel so strongly that small business is the community’s touchstone to create the world I want to live in.
Big business and corporate malls will never offer the expertise, culture, jobs, and community that your mom and pop shop on the corner does every damn day.
But I digress …
How do small business owners juggle uncertainty, a government shit shows, and a volatile economy? They way they always have. For a small business owner, this is the status quo.
So let's cruise through four phases of change that we can use to conquer your overwhelm.
Phase 1 - Fly The White Flag
Take a big step back from the fear, the anxiety, and the uncertainty
Take a whole day off, and anytime you spin out into fear or worry, gently acknowledge this information but choose to create solutions instead of ruminating over problems
It is so ok to feel all the feels right now, but taking action is the anecdote to fear
Evaluate your business, and your personal, core values - what is most important
Create a timeline for the next few steps:
What would you like to achieve?
What are the ways you will know you have been successful (pick some targets, like sales, new products, new marketing assets, etc)
Does this feel reasonable, or like too much? If it’s too much, scale the goals or timeline until you feel yourself switch from “too hard,” to “hopeful” or maybe even excited to get started.
What obstacles may get in your way?
Phase 2 - The Game Plan
Here’s where we can start to visualize, imagine, and even plan out our strategy for the goals and targets we brainstormed on in Phase 1
This is where we experiment, reach out to our network for feedback and support, even seek out additional learning or expertise for our next steps
Put your plan into action by breaking down your goals and targets into daily activities
If you want $XX,000 in sales by the end of the month, how many calls or DMs do you need to complete each week? How many each day?
If you want to sign up YY number of new clients this quarter, how many leads do you need to cultivate?
Be aware of any stories you tell yourself about how “this or that” won’t work
Challenge those thoughts - remember, our thoughts are just pieces of information we can choose to use … or not. What would be a more useful piece of information?
Look for evidence to the contrary, because I promise you you’ve have proven your success before and you will do it again, especially if you choose too
Phase 3 - Play Time
You guessed it, here is where we put our game plan into action - its exhilarating, exhausting, exciting, and challenging, its all the things!
This is where we learn and discover everything about how to be even more successful, and our setbacks and disappoints are our greatest teachers
Phase 4 - Wrap It Up
Everything comes to an end, this too shall pass, and the only constant is change - whether we blew our targets out of the water, or drowned trying, this is the end of this round (the water analogy only applies if your a pirate or playing battleship, sorry .. dad joke).
Use this phase to see what worked, evaluate what sucked, and decide if you want to play again!
Notice if you’re feeling sorry for yourself or hosting a pity-party. This is totally normal in this phase, even if we were wildly successful if you’re anything like me, you hate it when good things come to an end.
Rather than clinging to what is naturally cycling down, how can you quit while you’re ahead, and prepare for round 2?
If you’re beating yourself up and counting your losses, how might you shift perspective to see the losses as learnings, and use this information to gain clarity on what you really need and want to be successful in whatever game you play next?
This world is in a constant state of flux. When we lean into trust and let go of problem/solution and win/lose paradigms, we discover that the possibilities are endless and our potential is limitless.
The first and final phases of change can be daunting, debilitating, and uncomfortable as hell. They can also be inspiring, imaginative, and challenging. You always have a choice.
As Alice Walker said, “The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.”
When we externalize our problems - i.e. blaming the economy or pandemics or protestors - we give-away our power.
No, the same choices are not available for everyone. But you, my friend, always have a choice. And change is where you find it.