I’ve been a life coach since 2006, but until late 2009 going into 2010, I treated my business like a side hobby. After I got serious about marketing and started to do daily, consistent things to grow my business, I hit my first patch of burnout.
Burnout: It looked like a lack of motivation, a resistance to completing tasks, and questioning whether or not I should have ever started to build my business.
An important point about that last one: I questioned myself about whether or not I should have started a business. I questioned whether I was in the right line of work. I, someone who had loved coaching, thought it was possible that I wouldn’t do it, anymore.
I call that out because when you’re feeling burned out, or you’re scared about money, or you’re trying to figure out how to make all the pieces of life and business-building work and there’s a pile of laundry on the floor and you haven’t gone grocery shopping in who knows how long, overwhelm hits. When overwhelm hits, it can make you question everything.
You’re going to have days, weeks, and months in your self-employed life where you don’t want to do what needs to be done.
The fallacy of being in business for yourself is that absolutely every day will be a whimsical adventure and that absolutely anything you do in the name of entrepreneurship is going to be better than a soul-sucking salaried job. That’s not the case.
Questioning everything in the midst of overwhelm isn’t a sign that you’re doing it all wrong. It’s just a sign that you’re feeling burned out and overwhelmed.
When you lack motivation , the first step is always to take a breather.
My favorite form of taking a breather is a digital sabbatical. Pick two weeks on your calendar (yes, that’s right, two weeks!) and prepare in advance. Pre-schedule blog posts, newsletters, and social media. Put up an auto-responder. Let clients know that you’ll be gone.
Then, on the appointed day…
do not answer email.
Do not look at Facebook.
Do not look at your newsletter service.
Do not touch your computer for a full two weeks.
Everyone’s got something they don’t love.
Again, there’s this myth that you’ll always love the hustle of entrepreneurship. Most people, when they first begin working for themselves, do love it. But the daily grind will hit, and with it, there will be tasks that you don’t like to do.
Because it used to annoy me to hear people suggest the simple solution of “hiring a VA!” when I was first starting out and couldn’t possibly afford to hire a VA, I’m not going to suggest that, here. I’m assuming you already know that it’s an option.
But I will say that it’s a good idea to actually sit down and list out all of the things that you for your business. Don’t just write “send out my newsletter.” If sending out your newsletter entails writing out a blog post, creating a graphic, and shortening a link with a link shortener, make sure that those are all listed as separate items.
When the list is totally complete, identify the things that you don’t love doing, and decide which of them you can stop doing and which items you don’t love doing, but for the sake of running your business, you’re going to keep on doing them.
There’s always a way to consolidate.
Review your list again, looking for ways to consolidate your time. For example, many social media accounts are integrated. Pinterest will post a graphic straight to Pinterest, with boxes that you can check that will also share with other social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter. Is the solution here for you to initiate the posting of a graphic through Pinterest, and ticking those additional boxes?
Do you need to get rid of extraneous email accounts or ways of contacting you, so that you have fewer things to check?
Do you need to batch process some tasks–in essence, getting a bulk of something done on one day instead of doing a little bit over the course of several days? While that one day of action would be a busy one, if it would free you up over the course of several more days and give you the time you need to read, chat with a friend, or relax, it’s well worth it.
Consolidating the tasks that you don’t like to do, or consolidating your time to be more efficient, can get you an extra five minutes here and there. That extra five minutes can be used to get outside and take a walk, grab an extra cup of coffee, meditate, do some yoga poses.
Believe in the power of five minutes.
Everyone hits business slumps.
At least once a year, I hit some kind of period where all I fantasize about is going to the library, getting a big stack of books on subjects I like to geek out on, and bringing them home with a chai latte, where I do nothing all day long but read.
That doesn’t happen because I’m doing something wrong in my business or because I don’t like running my life coach training program, or because I’m frustrated with clients. This isn’t happening because I deny myself reading time or drive myself too hard.
This happens because I like taking breaks to read. This happens because I’m human and sometimes I want an extra vacation. This happens for a whole host of reasons that don’t need analysis, because there’s nothing there to analyze.
Everyone has moments where they wonder what to do when they lack motivation because at some point, everyone experiences a lack of motivation.
The big take-aways
You’re not doing it wrong.
You’re probably in the exact perfect line of work, but you’re just tired or over-worked or frustrated or uncertain about what the future holds.
The people who promise fast and easy fixes where all of your business income issues are solved in weeks or months are probably, uh, lying. Coaching is a business like any other. You build it through consistent effort, over time. That’s why the Coaching Blueprint talks about creating a “blueprint” for your business, done your way.
You need to actually take time off–a 100% break from your business–if you want to get clear on your next steps.
Long-term happiness in business means finding out what you don’t like doing, and trying to do as little of it as you can get away with, so that you can amplify doing more of what you love.