‘Six in ten small business owners didn't manage to take a holiday last year, and of those that did, three quarters worked every day.’ - The Guardian
I come across a lot of overwhelmed and frustrated business people. I guess that’s partly because I go looking for them knowing that I can help, but still, there are a lot.
These are people who can’t see the wood for the trees, who feel that the work, or the challenge in front of them is too great, who don’t believe they have the time to get the stuff done that they need to.
The dictionary will show you that there are two levels of overwhelm – on any given day, many of us can find ourselves swamped, inundated, clogged, submerged or overburdened.
It is a temporary if stressful feeling, and it can be overcome pretty easily when you know how.
Those who don’t know how, who can’t find a way out, and who don’t get help, move into stage two, and find themselves out of business - conquered, beaten, crushed, and clobbered (great word).
These are the people for whom overwhelm becomes the norm; people who are always in chaos and in crisis. They know they need to change but don’t know where to start. They are the people working so hard but going nowhere; they are the hamsters on the wheel.
I once said that ‘Many small business owners are secretly in love with the struggle.’
Have you come across someone who is working all the hours god sends, who wears these hours as some sort of badge of honour? You know the sort of person who almost derides those who run their business as a three day week.
Like the hamster, these people see themselves as working so hard. Like the hamster they are working in their business, not on it. Unlike the hamster, they are not always responsive to help.
They don’t want solutions really. They are not as aware of the effects their working life is having on relationships and even perhaps their health because their head is very much in the sand.
Think of the successful business owner who really needs to take on a team but would rather struggle on than take the time to recruit and train.
This person justifies the missed sports days, anniversaries even holidays because he/she knows they are doing all this work for their family.
They don’t take time to take stock and evaluate if this is what their family wants or if say their children would rather have more quality time with their parent rather than another expensive gift.
It is a case of which gives out first, their business or their health. These are people rooted to the spot, they are the ostrich with its head in the sand.
'Focus on being productive instead of busy.' -Tim Ferriss
So few people know what is really important in their lives…an even smaller number can articulate their priorities, and in my experience fewer still are consciously planning their time around them to Get the Right Stuff Done.
People will tell me that they want to be healthy, to have productive relationships, to have a great business…but what does that look like?
What does being healthy mean to you…able to run a marathon, or simply able to get out of bed?
And what about that great business…do you want to make £10m every year, or have a business that allows you to work one day a week and still support your lifestyle?
When you are really clear about your priorities, about what your ideal future looks like, about what your heart and mind tell you is important, and when you can answer the question ‘WHY?’, you will never be clogged, crushed or clobbered by overwhelm again.
What you define as your ideal future, will drive your performance today.
You want a great relationship with your children when they’re grown, you make time to build that relationship…today.
Want to be healthy into your old age? Get off your butt and go for a walk…today. Want to work one day a week? Find someone to do your books and other admin…today.
Ask, ‘What am I trying to achieve…and why?’
…ditch or delegate anything that does not move you towards your priorities and have a productive day, focus on what’s really important in your life and Getting the Right Stuff Done.
Keep your head up. Take time out each day to stand up and focus on that horizon, your vision for business and for life and prioritise what will take you there.
If you need to be an animal for your business, be the Meerkat.
Do One Thing: Write down your vision for life and business TODAY.