As I mentioned in this post, I spent a fair amount of 2016 feeling utterly confused and overwhelmed. I had this whole new career to launch, and there was so much advice about the best way to do that it kind of made me want to cry. I still feel like that at times, but, I’m learning how to deal with it. So if you’re currently drowning in a sea of TOO MANY THINGS I SHOULD DO, take a deep breath, get a cup of tea, and maybe do a couple of these things.
- Start small.
Pick a set number of things, a manageable number, and a fixed timescale. Focus on those things for that time and, and this bit is important, do NOT worry about the others. For example, you might decide that this week is going to be spent hanging around in Facebook groups, answering and asking questions and getting to know that community. You might decide to read one of those training books you panic-bought. You might decide to figure out how to do LinkedIn without sending an email to every single person you’ve ever met.
Don’t worry about whether or not you’re focusing on the most effective things. It doesn’t really matter. The point is to focus on something and really work on it. At the end of the week, or whatever time period you decided on, you will know something new or be more comfortable with something you were wary of, and that is an achievement, no matter how small it might feel. You might decide that, after all that, that particular thing is not for you. That’s OK. In fact, that’s good. Because you were never going to know until you tried, and now you can move on to the next thing, and then the next, and then the next.
- Come back to what you know.
In the whirlwind that is setting up your own business, it can be quite easy to put the actual business of your business on the back burner, especially if you don’t have any projects on the go. But remember that you decided to do this for a reason, and that reason probably has something to do with the fact that you have a passion and a talent for what you do. So do something to remind yourself of that.
I am good at what I do, and I love it. If I start to forget that, I try and find some training exercises I can do, or I look over some of my own writing and try to pretend I didn’t write it. Even just reading a book with a critical eye can remind me that I’m an editor. (And I can do that last one in bed in my pyjamas – bonus!)
- Make time for yourself
You hear so many stories of people who built their own businesses by putting in 29-hour days for two years and dedicating themselves solely to their goals. Good for them. I’m not sure I’ve got that in me. Yes, you have to put time in, and nobody is going to do any of this but you. But at the same time, you have a life outside work. You have other responsibilities, other interests. And being happy, rested and relaxed will make you a more productive person.
- Ask for help
People are ace. They really are. And while you shouldn’t take advantage of this, or take from your community without ever giving back, don’t be frightened to ask advice from people who know what they’re talking about. Even if you think your question is stupid. Chances are you’re not the only one who wants to ask it. In my experience, people like to help other people. So ask away, and promise yourself that one day you’ll be in a position to do the same for someone else.
- Accept that you will make mistakes
I’ve mentioned this in my previous posts, but it’s important, so I’ll say it again. Mistakes are part of the process. I’m not someone who likes to make mistakes (who does?), and the fear of making them has often held me back. So if you’re like me, take a deep breath, tell yourself that everyone makes mistakes and that building a business takes time, effort, and trial and error. Then publish that blog post, send that tweet, post that ad, write that email. You might not get the result you want, but you won’t get a result at all if you don’t try. Then get a big glass of wine/cup of tea/piece of cake and try not to worry.