If there’s one thing I’ve learned from being in business for myself, it’s this: there are times when things can get pretty chaotic. Between looming project deadlines, a constant push to market yourself and your services, trying to make customers happy, keeping up the books, and everything else necessary to running a small business effectively and efficiently, it can sometimes feel pretty overwhelming.
It’s kind of like being in a rowboat in the middle of the ocean when a storm strikes. You start rowing as fast you can to try to get to the safety and security of shore, but instead you feel as if you’re going in circles and you’ve got no other option but to hunker down and simply try to weather the winds and rain as best you can.
At times like these, it’s important to remember that, while you can’t control everything that is going on around you, you can still control a lot. In other words, just because things feel chaotic at the moment, that doesn’t mean that you have to be chaotic too.
In fact, when you find some sense of calm amid the chaos, you can often get the world around you to slow down a little bit too, which makes you more productive and effective and a better small business owner. So how do you do that?
Spend Some Time Daily in Silence
When there’s a lot going on around you, it’s easy to lose your place because you’re distracted by all of the commotion, whether actual or just in your mind. Therefore, spending some time alone in complete silence can help reduce the chatter and set yourself at ease.
To make the most of this time, you could do some breathing exercises, such as the 4-7-8 exercise suggested by Dr. Andrew Weil. This involves breathing in softly through your nose to a count of four, holding for a count of seven, and then exhaling loudly through your mouth to a count of eight.
Another option is to meditate or do yoga, two exercises suggested by Psychology Today for their calming effects. For the best effects, they recommend doing these types of activities 4 to 5 days a week for at least a 30-day timeframe.
Put the Situation into Perspective
If you feel as if you’re no longer in control and that is what is giving you the feelings of chaos, then it’s time to put your situation into perspective. Once you do, you’ll likely realize that you aren’t actually immersed in chaos, it just feels like it at the moment. Plus, going through this exercise helps you see your circumstance more clearly so that if there are some areas you could exert more control over and improve your situation, you can do so more effectively.
One way to achieve this is to ask yourself if the things that have you feeling stressed or worried are really as major as they feel. If they aren’t, then you may be better off letting them go. And if they are, then at least you know that you need to focus on these particular areas in order to start feeling better about your business and the direction it is headed. From there, you can create a plan to deal with them head on. Do this and you’ll notice the positive effects almost instantly.
Sometimes it isn’t your own chaos that is threatening your calm, but the chaos coming from clients, partners, employees, or sometimes even family. This makes setting boundaries critical to protecting you from other people’s drama before it starts to seep into your life and threaten your own mental state, and therefore your business.
For instance, if you have a client who constantly needs things yesterday, you may want to advise them that you require at least one to two weeks’ notice to accommodate their requests. If they don’t do as you ask after that, essentially disrespecting the boundaries you’ve set, then you may decide that they’re not worth the chaos that they’re putting in your work life and have to let them go. Of course, it helps if you have a new client set up to take their place first, but even if you don’t, sometimes the stress isn’t worth the money you make from them.
Do Relaxing Things Just for You
If everyone else is pulling at you, telling you what they need, there is a high likelihood that your own needs have taken a back seat (if they’re even still in the car). Therefore, one way to help reestablish the calm is to do relaxing things that you enjoy, and do them just for you.
Oftentimes, we feel guilty for doing for us because, in business, you have to be very in tune to everyone else’s needs and wants. However, taking care of yourself is necessary if you want to be your best for everyone else.
Some activities that may relax you include reading, listening to soothing music, going for a walk, chatting with a friend, sitting by the water, watching your favorite TV show or movie, or anything else that leaves you in a state of calm. It doesn’t matter so much what it is as long as you feel calmer after doing it.
Do these types of things often and you’ll likely see that you don’t get as stressed as fast as you used to, which will make you a better person and a better business owner.
What do you do when things get chaotic in your business life? Feel free to share them below so that others can use them to increase the calm in their work life too.
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