Don't Let it Control You
Opening a business requires a task-oriented mindset. I remember having checklists out the wazoo during the 9 months of “pre-opening” for my studio. It feels great to hit milestones and get closer towards the day when your venture becomes a living, breathing thing. However, the problem for most entrepreneurs is that they operate for so long just trying to launch the business, and they don’t know how to switch gears when the business is open (me included). Starting a business is a single goal that requires a million little steps, whereas running a business is comprised of a million little goals, with no single path to success. You’re constantly juggling the big picture with the day to day, managing your team and managing your own expectations. When things are going well, you feel relaxed and successful. When things are going poorly, it’s tempting to drown in the whirlwind of your self-loathing. Both of these emotional responses are a result of being a checklist entrepreneur; you’re treating your business as if it can be made or broken in a single day.
If we’re being honest, this is my biggest challenge in owning a business. I’m not scared of bad reviews or staff drama. I don’t balk in the face of a rude customer or the unexpected hitch in a plan. But, when I can’t control the day to day, I begin to live like my business could close it’s doors when I don’t see an immediate return. Or, even more dangerous, I get too comfortable with the success I’m experiencing, and I go into a meltdown when things don’t stay the same.
We, as entrepreneurs, have to learn to live in the bad times as if they are the good times. If we want a “lifestyle business”, we have to learn how to ignore the emotional response to the day to day and look at things through the lens of a long-term plan.
The lesson here extends far beyond entrepreneurship. You don’t have to be a business owner to struggle with letting your circumstances dictate your emotions. My challenge to myself is not to turn a blind eye to my circumstances, because ignoring your position is a surefire way to remain stuck. Instead, I’m trying to learn how to live like I can leave it all at the office. I tell my teachers to “check their emotions at the door” when they're having a hard day and need to teach class (but I say it nicely). I’m the opposite, I need to check my worries at the studio door when I leave each day and go home to my husband and dog, as if my business doesn’t define me.
Because it doesn’t.
You see, I like being defined by what I do. Be that a shallow or non-Christianese thing to admit, there it is. We all have that one thing that we feel gives us identity. Maybe it’s your career, your blog, your relationship, or your position as a parent. While we all know that we shouldn’t define ourselves by what we do, rather than who we are, we throw that piece of advice around like a nice catch phrase and never break it down into an actionable plan.
For me, step one is cutting off the worry-filled speech. It’s leaving the stress where the stress belongs and remembering that the time I have with my husband and friends deserves my utmost attention. If you find yourself plagued by circumstances, decide on a small, doable step towards not letting the thing control you. Just focus on mastering that one step, and see where it takes you. I’m in it with you, promise.