Fresh start. Clean slate. Tabula Rasa. Every now and then in life, we get a fresh start – the opportunity to begin again without the encumbrances, the disappointments, all of the baggage from before. This can come in the form of a relocation, a new job, a new relationship, or even launching a new business.
Entrepreneurs, especially, seem to love fresh starts. We are, by and large, a rare breed. We are not as afraid of the unknown as our non-entrepreneur counterparts. We look at new beginnings as the start of a grand new adventure. Sometimes, we become so addicted to the feel of that ‘new beginning’ that we take it to the extreme and begin to jump from opportunity to opportunity in a manner that has become known as “Shiny Object Syndrome.”
Some of this can come from our natural desire to be doing something new and exciting, but, and this is a tough-love statement, it can also come from out unwillingness to recognize or do the hard work necessary to create something amazing with our current venture. If what we’re doing hasn’t already yielded us the results, the success, or the lifestyle we want, we can have the tendency to look outside of ourselves and think that the answer must lie in the next thing when most often, the answer lies within us.
Sometimes we do find ourselves in situations where we’ve accumulated some unwanted baggage in our business that we’re tired of lugging around. We get to points along our journey when we feel stuck, we don’t know what to try, we can’t see clearly how to move forward, and we might even consider throwing in the towel.
But the good news is, you don’t have to throw the baby out with the bathwater. You can still create a fresh start for yourself, whether you’ve been in business for a few months or a few years. You can keep what is good and solid about your business, release what isn’t serving your goals, and create a fresh start to build a business that fuels an amazing life. These three steps will help you clear the air so that you can move forward unencumbered, so grab your journal and a pen and get ready to create your fresh start.
1. Check Your Expectations
When my husband Brett and I were first married, we completed a marriage counseling program together in an effort to get our marriage off to a solid start on a firm foundation. One thing that always stuck with me from that program was the idea that how we handled our expectations – conscious or subconscious – would make or break our relationship. I think this is also true of our businesses. Some of our greatest disappointments and wounds in our businesses can come from unmet expectations.
Maybe you thought all your friends and family would rush to buy your product.
Perhaps you hired an employee you thought you could trust who underperformed or quit without warning.
Maybe you expected that a person you had supported in the past would, in turn, support you.
Maybe you had vendors or contractors whose work didn’t meet your standards – or worse yet, they never fulfilled the obligation.
Perhaps you set up a launch sequence and ran it just like the experts showed you only to net a big fat goose egg in your bank account at the end of the launch promotion.
Maybe you thought you’d already be raking in the dough and living the good life, sipping Mai Tais on the beach while your bank balance steadily increased.
I once heard someone say that, “Nothing messes us up quite like the picture we have in our heads of how things should be.” And it’s true. Our unmet expectations can leave us feeling hopeless and deflated and wondering if we’re in the right business. The thing is, if we don’t address the root problem of our unmet expectations, we’ll repeat the cycle regardless of what business we’re in. If we are feeling wounded or angry because someone else hasn’t lived up to our expectations, it’s important to come back to the truth that no one else besides ourselves is responsible for our success. Healthy expectations always come back to personal responsibility. If you are feeling stuck or disappointed, here are some questions that can help you process these feelings:
What, specifically am I feeling?
What has led to this feeling?
How am I showing up in this situation?
Is there something I could have done differently to gain a different result?
Is there an action that I need to take to correct this situation?
If this situation were ideal, how would it be?
How should I be or how should I act from this point forward to begin creating the more ideal reality?
When we take true ownership of our businesses and set expectations around the aspects we can control, it empowers us to move forward in a mentally healthy way and create the success we truly desire.
All of that said, I’ll move on with this caveat to expectations. It’s perfectly reasonable to expect that another business person upholds their side of an agreement—whether it’s work you’ve hired to be done or a business partner. But sometimes they don’t. That’s why contracts are an important part of your professional life.
2. Choose to Release the Baggage
Becoming aware of your expectations and why you feel the way you do about your business is the first step to giving yourself a fresh start. The truth is, what you feel and the emotions you have around your business are all okay. It’s important to recognize what your feeling. It’s also important to learn when it’s time to let go of what you’re feeling. Holding onto negative emotions and feelings have very tangible, often unfavorable effects on our lives and our businesses.
Take some time right now to write down what you are thinking and feeling about where you are in your business. Most likely, if you are honestly evaluating where you are, there will be some positive feelings and some negative. As you look at any of the negative feelings you are experiencing. Take a moment to ask yourself,
If I released this feeling, thought, or emotion, how would it impact how I’m showing up in my business?
What can I do right now to release this feeling, thought, or emotion?
What positive thought or mantra can I replace this negative feeling, thought, or emotion with?
The third question is a very important one. Releasing negative emotions and reframing what you are thinking and feeling to something that serves you towards your goals literally requires retraining your mind. You may feel that old thought or emotion pop up again, but this time, when it does, you are able to immediately replace it with a statement of truth about who you are and what you are creating with your business.
Ultimately, to move forward and create the success you want in any venture, you must actively choose to release your baggage. You must choose to stop giving power to those you feel have wronged you. You must choose to stop resenting your business because of disappointment you have experienced. Choose to give your power and energy to healing your life so that you show up fully and responsibly in your business and make the unique contribution to the world that only you can make. For most people, this isn’t a quick fix. It is a literal practice of being conscious of how you think and feel – and how you are allowing what you think and feel to affect you.
3. Renew Your Commitment
I personally think one of the most powerful ideas that solopreneurs and small business owners can grasp is the belief that they truly are the CEO of their own company. In other words, “You’re the [wo]man!” The “Head Honcho.” The “Top Brass.” The “Big Cheese.” The “Top Dog.” You are the one in the driver’s seat, and the buck stops with you.
Generally speaking, I think entrepreneurs know this conceptually, but they don’t truly know it practically. Many aren’t living and operating that way. When you acknowledge that you are the one in charge, it empowers you to confidently direct the course of your business. It generates a higher level of commitment to creating success.
Take some time right now to get clear about how you are going to show up in your business this year. Consciously choosing this enables you to work from a place of power and prevents you from being ruled by whatever is coming your way.
The first step is to choose three words (or short phrases) that define how you are going to show up in your business this year. For example, maybe this year, you want to show up to your work space feeling confident. You also want to be disciplined in your work time, and you want to have a take-charge attitude.
Once you’ve selected your words, write them down in an “I am” statement. In this case, our statement would be, “I am confident. I am disciplined. I am a take-charge kind of person.” Then put this some place where you will see it every day that you sit down to work.
Getting clear about who you’re going to be in your business is the first step, and then it’s important to get clear about where you’re going to steer the ship. In the next three issues of Growth Advance Magazine, we are going to walk you through some of our most powerful business planning processes. Be sure to tune in each week so you can continue building a business that fuels your amazing life.
Finally, before we wrap this session up, I want to leave you with one final thought. And it is possibly the most important part of this whole article. Be gracious toward yourself. Give yourself grace and space to grow on this journey. Because, newsflash, you’re not perfect. And you are never going to be. (#sorrynotsorry) Things are never going to run smoothly 100% of the time. And you will face challenges. But you are pretty amazing. You are an overcomer. Things will go well most of the time. And you’ll be fine. Better than fine. Many times, type-A entrepreneurs can be very hard on themselves, but this serves no one. It takes energy away from your growth and your forward movement and keeps you stuck and feeling yucky. Any time you find yourself judging yourself harshly, take a breath and say your “I am” statement out loud. Examine your feelings about whatever is going on, release them, and redirect your mind and your actions toward your goals.