You became a creative business owner to create more freedom. You envisioned freeing up more time, making more money and living your dream lifestyle. But what happens, more often than not, is that you find yourself stuck, a year or four after you open for business. You haven’t achieved the “big time”; your computer is cluttered with business folders, courses, eBooks and software you don’t even remember; and you feel like you’re stuck in a hamster wheel, running at top speed all the time—but getting nowhere.
There are many causes for this type of business chaos: Some complex and some, extremely simple.
Over the next few Mondays, I will be diving deep into the reasons you might be feeling overwhelmed, stuck or discouraged and share some effective strategies for moving through chaos to calm. From the space of calm, action can happen! It’s all about taking baby steps, just like Bill Murray in What about Bob?
I have noticed I have been obsessed with planners recently. As we enter the 4th quarter of 2018 I am already looking ahead to 2019 plans. I want to finish this year strong, I don’t need another planner that sits unused on my desk. It’s so easy for me to play in the future when what really needs my attention is in the now. Beginning of the 4th quarter is the perfect time for me to take a deep breath, pause, and do some journaling around what I might be avoiding in the moment. Why am I lingering in the future vision when action happens in the here and now?
The truth? We are in the planning and launch stages of several new streams of revenue. I have started selling my art, including two commissioned pieces. My work life feels chaotic. How will I find the time for all that’s on my plate and spend time with hubby and daughter?
Am I setting goals that may not be realistic given the amount of time I am traveling this month? This is chaos and insanity of my own creation. Happiness for me is when I have the time and spaciousness to do my work and live my life the way I want.
What’s a creative like you or me to do? The first step is to identify what is causing the chaos.
What’s Causing the Chaos?
Before you can fix anything, first you need to identify the specific problem(s).
You also need to know if the problem is internal or external: That is, is there something in your personality or psychological makeup that is causing the problem… or are you being affected by external forces (for example, trying to work in the corner of a noisy family room, with your actual desk piled with laundry your kids were supposed to put away three days ago? In which case you are being affected by the presence of other people plus their physical clutter.)
Read through the following points and see if any resonate strongly with you.
“I am suffering from confusion because…”
- I have too many websites, programs, courses and products I am trying to sell
- I have a complex life full of many facets—personal, family, business and other responsibilities (i.e. caregiver to an elderly parent)
- I am naturally, gloriously disorganized and “right-brain”
- I have too many ideas and half-started projects
- I don’t have enough time to use the software, courses and books I’ve bought
- I lack focus and am easily distracted
- I just have too much stuff
If you’re like most creative business owners, you will probably have found yourself answering “yes” to all of the above!
Don’t worry. Next Monday in How to Get Focused in Less Than 24 Hours, I am going to show you how to find your focus and increase your happiness!
But first, let’s name the chaos. Think of this as the brainstorming stage.
Taking inventory of what is creating chaos is an essential step before you can deal with inner or external causes of overwhelm, so grab a journal. For each of the categories below, list what you think is causing chaos in each of the following three categories.
Note: I am just listing five here. There may be more. My intention is to support you in gaining some clarity on where you are stuck, not create more overwhelm. List no more than three items in each category.
- Computer Chaos (courses you’ve bought, websites or domain names you own, software, apps or membership sites you belong to)
- Project Chaos (ideas and projects you have started but can’t seem to finish)
- Physical Chaos (clutter, paperwork, noise or environmental issues)
- Time Chaos (too much to do, not enough time for…, not making time for…)
- People Chaos (busy family schedule, too many volunteer activities, time commitments to other people or friends)
Once you identify the chaos, ask yourself which of these are external and which are internal. For example, I often have unfinished projects that don’t get launched because I lack confidence. I committed in January to putting my art up for sale and it took me six months to make it happen. I created a lot of stories around it being hard and really I was scared. Once I recognized that fear was stopping me, I could name the problem and take action. I’m still scared but I am not stuck. Make sense?
Final step for today:
Pick one of the items on your list to start with. What is one key area of chaos that is simple to shift? It might be as simple as cleaning your desk or more complex like letting go of old domain names that seemed like great ideas but are no longer useful or aligned with your current business.
Taking just one simple action will make you feel happier, more alive and less overwhelmed. When you feel happier and more successful, then you can take the next action and the one after that. Just like Bob taking baby steps in What About Bob. If you need a giggle, watch this short video: https://youtu.be/p3JPa2mvSQ4
And I will see you next week!
P.S. If you are struggling to find balance among the many roles you play and are feeling a bit lost and overwhelmed, reach out and ask for help. I still have a few spots open this week for Creative Leadership Breakthrough sessions. This session is for you if you are ready to step into leadership in your life and business. You cannot do this alone. If you are content with your chaos, this is not the support you are looking for. If you are just looking for some free advice, this is not for you. This session is for you if you are committed to investing in yourself and in your business. You are willing to do the inner work and the organizational work to grow. And most importantly, you know your work matters and you need a plan to spread the word, without the chaos. If this feels right for you, apply now: http://minette.pages.ontraport.net/BreakthroughSession