What to do when things aren't going as fast as you'd hoped in your business
Last week I was talking with a client who said:
"I'm happy with what I'm doing and it's all going really well...but it's all going far too slow, and I'm really frustrated."
I felt a little confused, so I asked:
"Too slow compared to...what?"
"Too slow compared to how fast it thought it would be going."
"And on what basis did you determine the speed you thought you would be going?"
She paused and was quietly contemplating the answer to the question. Finally, she said
"Well, I just see everyone else out there 'killing it' and I'm just sitting here trying to keep my head above water in quarantine -- my husband works, I'm stuck at home with the kids, I don't any time to dedicate to my business, and I feel like I'm going backward. Plus, with school about to start and virtual learning happening -- I won't have any time to dedicate to my business at all."
Still feeling confused...I asked another question
"You just told me the work you ARE doing is going well. Yet then you said you don't have ANY time to dedicate to your business. Which is it then -- you're working some and it's going well, or you're not working at all?"
Finally, she heard herself speak.
As it turns out, like most people, she certainly had to make some unexpected schedule changes with COVID that affected how much time she could dedicate to her business.
However, she was still seeing clients, still making money (turning a profit, even!) and still getting some fulfillment.
Sure, it wasn't what she wanted. It wasn't what she had planned when she sat down with me in a full strategic planning VIP day.
And yes, that would understandably bring some frustration.
But what did that really mean?
The word (and emotion) frustration almost always is "code" word for something else, and almost always a clue that we need to slow down and take a break to get clear on what's actually going on:
Guilt: It's my fault for getting myself into this mess, and I'm responsible for everyone else's experience, too.
Grief: I've lost what once was expected or was happening, and I feel sad.
Loneliness: I'm lacking connection, and I feel alone.
Fear: I'm afraid this is going to be how it is [forever] moving forward
Helplessness / Hopelessness: There's no point in even trying, I am destined to be stuck here.
Anger (often in response to the previous 5 emotions): I'm angry at myself / the world for doing this to me. It's not fair.
Pride: My way (or, the "perfect way") is the only way / best way of doing things, and if it can't be my way / be perfect, then it's wrong.
In this client's case, she had a lot of these things going on. And while feeling and being in emotion is completely and utterly normal, the emotions themselves were then clouding and skewing her perceptions of reality.
The way the brain works -- we get triggered into an emotional pattern that then puts imaginary goggles over our eyes. When we feel grief, typically that means the world looks sad, or maybe even helpless.
So, in this case -- we might be feeling sad -- and we open up Instagram and therefore perceive through our "sadness goggles" that "everyone else is 'killing it'" and we, therefore, perceive and tell stories that we have lost our grip.
Or, we feel alone -- and see how everyone else is doing online networking groups, or getting partners to do webinars with, or doing socially distanced Mom & Me groups. Because we feel alone, our "lonely" goggles are over our eyes as we view these things as the reason we feel lonely, and thus, we feel more lonely (when in fact, it's the loneliness itself that is skewing our perception).
In the latter example -- someone who is in an emotional state of joy might view the same exact situations like those of joy, love, and excitement.
Oftentimes we define success in our lives and businesses happen based on how many boxes we check, or how many dollars come in each month, or how many people like our posts or schedule discovery calls or actual appointments with us.
Or, we believe success is defined by how fast we go as if life and business are an invisible race where we all start at the exact same starting line and navigate the exact same obstacle course.
So, when we don't have those things, or we don't go "fast enough" then we tell stories of "failure" or "not enough" or "it's all hopeless/helpless."
But the truth is -- success in life, career, and business begin with the emotional state and state of mind we're in.
If we feel sad, then the world will look sad.
If we feel joy, then the world will look joyful.
To be clear -- there is nothing "wrong" about feeling an emotion that clouds and skews your perception negatively. This is a normal part of being a human!
The key is knowing when you're there and recognizing that the emotions may be skewing and clouding your perception, and therefore leading you to think things, say things, and do things that aren't necessarily aligned with the highest order of truth.
And, the key is to recognize it so you can honor and be with yourself and your emotions, feel them, and let them pass, step into a more heart-centered and clear head and heart space, then take heart-centered and loving action from there.
So bringing it back to the client story -- this is how we turned it around for her.
We first got clear on what she was feeling by clarifying the word "frustrated." She was actually feeling three different emotions: grief (a loss of identity), helpless, and prideful. The grief came with a perceived loss of identity after shifting her schedule around and being home more with her kids. Super common, super understandable! She was feeling helpless because her kids needed to do virtual school, and she simply didn't have enough help! And she felt (unknowingly) prideful because she was comparing herself to a version of herself that was "ideal, perfect, and unattainable" (a variation of perfectionism) and in a polarized mindset of "if I'm not working 100% the way I want to, then I'm doing nothing" -- hence why she told me she was working some and it was going well, and then later when she became emotionally triggered, said she was doing nothing.
We honored and sat with her feelings -- together -- for 2 minutes. Rather than sit and talk about the feelings, we set a timer for 2 minutes. I sat with her -- over the phone -- as she let the feelings wash over her. This is not always the easiest feat to do by yourself as the emotions could feel uncomfortable. But we know that the brain can only produce an emotional pattern (and the corresponding physical sensations that come with it) for approximately 2 minutes before it starts to lose its grip. She committed to 2 brave minutes to experience (rather than try to escape) her emotions. After that, she felt the emotions start to fade and dissipate, and she felt her head clear. The imaginary goggles lifted from her eyes.
We got clear on what was actually true versus what was skewed perception. She WAS working. In fact, she was doing the best she could. She WAS making money and making progress. It was just "slower" than it once was -- but the perfect speed for the season of life she was in. To be honest -- any faster pace would have led to overwhelm. So, she let go of the "all or nothing" perfectionistic and prideful story and decided to focus on the process of taking baby steps--smaller steps, but still steps nonetheless. She chose to celebrate the process of being flexible and being a business owner who could reset the pace in her businesses, instead of focusing on some perfectionistic outcome. And, we got clear on whether she was actually helpless, or simply not asking for help. She set some boundaries with her kids, bravely asked her husband to help out more, and hired a sitter to help out with COVID-safe outdoor activities one day per week.
Ultimately, she concluded that she was, in fact, still moving forward in her business, just at a different pace, and this was perfectly ok.
She was still on the same path, still moving toward her goals. She was not starting over or going backward.
She was more inspired to build a bridge from what WAS to what IS, and finally walk across that bridge and accept it. In fact, she was more motivated to use the first bridge to redefine her values and re-examine how she was honoring her time.
She decided to celebrate and be grateful for ANY process related to work, rather than beat herself up for "not doing enough."
And, she felt safe in sitting with, honoring, and accepting her emotions. She had some continued grieving to do -- letting go of "what once was" -- but was committed to bravely being with the grief rather than escaping it by being all up in her head, aimlessly scrolling social media, or doing "productive but not productive" tasks when she was working on her business.
Pretty awesome for a 55-minute conversation right?
Now it's your turn:
How can you slow down enough to see and hear the word "frustration" as it comes across your lips or rattles around in your head, and get clear on what it's code for? What is hiding behind that word?
How can you -- vulnerably and with courage -- sit with the emotion and examine the false stories, misperceptions, and non-heart centered actions that are happening as a result?
How can you bravely build and/or walk across the bridge from what WAS -- what you once expected would happen -- to radically and lovingly accept what IS -- what is actually happening (or needs to happen)?
How can you shift to see that what IS happening is 100 perfect for you right now?
How could it become an opportunity instead of a challenge?
How could it be a bridge to something better than what once was?
I can't wait to hear what you come up with!
Need help with this? Click here to download my free how-to guide, the Be the Boss of Your Career Blueprint.
In love and health,