How to be okay with not loving your business, and then fall back in love again in three simple steps.
Well this bit's going to be tough, I'm not gonna lie to you hun.
It takes time, grit, being more honest with yourself than you ever have been, and an all-powerful determination to remain your own boss. It's not for the faint-hearted or the work-shy and it's certainly not for my perfectionist sisters that dream of a cushtee, employed 9-5.
K, so that was the bad cop.
Now for the good cop. Once you've rode through the tough bit, life begins to evolve from pretty stressful, to pretty awesome. And not just as a short term fix, but because you're safe in the knowledge that should your professional passion falter again in the future, you're now armed with the wisdom and tools to rev it right back up again. You'll have fundamentally changed the way you do things. *Chest pump*
I've condensed these tools into three simple (but not easy) steps that you can pack away in your business bible, until it becomes the way you instinctively think.
1. Ask yourself why you started.
And really dig deep. Maybe it was being able to do what you wanted, when you wanted. Maybe it was being free to work on your passion rather than grafting on someone else's. Maybe it was because you wanted more control over your time so you could be around more for your fam. Have a think and think hard.
Once you've nailed that big reason, ask if the business you've created, despite the inevitable stress and challenges it poses, genuinely offers you that pay off.
If it does and that element of your business still works for you, then that's awesome news! You're actually luckier in business-love than you think. Your energy might then be better placed working on gratitude for what you do have, rather than focusing on what you don't. Remind yourself of what your business allows you - maybe it's simple fortunes like a roof over your head and food on the table. Or maybe it's more complex, like an outlet for your creativity or a source of empowerment and independence. Whatever it is, feel grateful and fortunate, and smugly skip on over to step two.
If it doesn't work for you on a fundamental level, even if it's through no obvious fault of your own, then my friend, I suspect you've got big changes and decisions to make. Because your business has to deliver that satisfaction for you. Maybe not every second of every day, or maybe not even every week. But if you're building a business that month to month doesn't float your dream-boat, then it probably should.
This is exactly where I found myself and I knew things had to change.
2. Write out which daily tasks you love to do, don't mind doing, and which you loathe.
A good way to do this is create a four-column page; the first column is all your daily tasks, the second is to put ticks against tasks you love, the third for tasks you don't mind, and the fourth for tasks you loathe. With a passion.
Once you've collated an honest list of task-likeability, the purpose behind this step is quite simple. You need to find a way to ditch the tasks you loathe. And I don't mean tasks you just dislike, as you're a business owner - by definition you have to carry the slack and do some stuff you're not overly chuffed with from time to time. But if your days are consumed by tasks you loathe, no wonder your business-love-life is waning. I mean, what's the point of choosing to live in loathe-dom?
But how can you ditch tasks that are necessary? That's a great question.
It may seem impossible when so much is demanded of you as a business owner nowadays, but the beautiful flip side of our crazy time to be alive, is that there are crazy people out there for E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G. There are people willing to be your virtual PA, and there are outsourcing companies dedicated to making your life easier by taking on all manner of duties.
Yes, you like things to be perfect and delegation is probably the perfectionist's most poorly-managed skill, but just because other people may do things differently to you, it doesn't mean their way is wrong y'know? Learning to accept that you're not the best-placed for every business task is actually very freeing. Go on, give it a try. I dare you :)
If adding more people to the mix isn't your bag and you want to keep things as a one-peep-show, there's a gigantic pool of online tools and software that can streamline your processes and cut out chunks of the mundane for you. Get budgeting, get googling and you'll see what I mean.
Either way, you might feel like you have to do it all, but SPOILER ALERT: you don't.
This was a bit of an epiphany for me.
Yes I needed to kick myself in the tush, get creative and go about things differently, but I didn't have to settle for things as they were. I'd somehow lost sight of that.
3. Carve out regular, dedicated time to work on your business, not in it.
I think I can actually hear your audible sighs, and yep, I agree, it's as cliché-ey as business clichés come. But dammit it's an essential part of watering and growing a successful business and I didn't cop on to this for so long. Too long in fact. Simply because it was easier to get lost in trying to make the day-to-day operations 'perfect'.
And when I say carve out time, I mean proper QT. Like the kind of quality time you'd give to your beloved grandparent when you'd go visit. Like switching off your phone and being 100% present-type quality time. Like booking actual time away from clients/customers as a holiday so your mind and body are physically 'out' of your business-type quality time.
You get my gist.
And what is this 'working on your business'? It's basically just committing time, whether it be weekly, monthly or annually to check in on your goals, set new ones and assess where you're at and where you're going (rather than just spending all day every day going through the motions without any direction whatsoever).
Now whether your business is a 'me, myself and I' operation and you're happy to keep it that way, or you've a team [or aspire for a team] that you're responsible for guiding, mentoring, and paying, this step is a must-do task.
If you commit to this, it's waaaay easier to keep that love for your professional baby resilient and strong. You'll also have the beauty of focus, motivation and direction in your work. However, if you avoid this, you're just aimlessly cruising, hoping for the best, and a lot more likely to be back out-of-love with your business, faster than you can type boo-boo-be-doo.
I've been where you've been [and will most likely be there again in the future I'm sure, I'm a perfectionist after all!], so I genuinely know how tough it is hun, believe me. But having used these steps first hand, I'm gleefully chipping away at my perfectionist, control-freak tendencies and feel so much more empowered (and bizarrely, more in control) as a result. I'm excited for the next phase of my life and business and hope you will be too :)