When things outside your control threaten to take your focus from your business, there’s lots you can do.
So many things can happen either inside or outside of business which can hold our focus more than we’d like. Things which are outside our control can throw us a doozy! It could be a launch not going to plan, a medical condition, someone we care about being unwell, someone else’s plans or ideas which don’t fit with our own ideas or plan. Relationship issues, a house move or renovation, a job change, the list of possibilities is endless. It’s totally human that these things grab our attention, and with a little momentum behind them we can end up finding it hard to focus on anything else!
If you notice this happening, give yourself a pat on the back for noticing. It’s the first step to bring yourself more balance during an understandably challenging time. There’s a lot you can do to take the reins of your own thoughts, even if all or much of the situation is outside your control.
5 doable tasks to help bring your thoughts back into balance.
1) Acknowledge what is and isn’t in your control.
It’s common to try and control things which are not in your control. I love the Serenity prayer from 12 step programs.
Grant me the serenity, to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.
Journal it out (see point 2,) talk with a friend, business buddy or coach. Sometimes it can be a challenge to admit there are things we genuinely have no control over, but it’s also really empowering to get clear about what we absolutely do have control over.
2) Journal it out.
Give yourself the time and space, to brain dump all your thoughts about the subject onto paper. The purpose is to get it all out of your head and make peace with where you are. It’s not for anyone else to read, so write down your true thoughts and feelings, you’re not necessarily trying to come up with solutions (though some may reveal themselves to you) rather give yourself permission to say all you have to say on the subject. Be kind and compassionate with yourself as you write.
3) When you find yourself obsessing about the issue, give your brain a break and find something to distract your thoughts.
There are infinite things to choose from and you need to find what works for you. Different things will work at different times. The key is, you need to give your brain something else to focus on which is more engaging in that moment than the (understandably) challenging thoughts.
It might be work-related tasks which aren’t too taxing, but enough of a challenge to keep your mind engaged. For some, meditation does the job, simply focusing on the breath and bringing your focus back there when your mind inevitably wanders. Some rounds of EFT or tapping – either on the subject or a different subject. Physical exercise does the trick for some – you can follow yoga, tai chi or pilates sessions on YouTube, look up ones for beginners if it’s a new practice for you. A word search or sudoko works for others. A good book or a Netflix series are also great distractors. Dancing and or shaking can also do the trick! I’ve found recently that reading aloud works well!
Don’t feel bad about distracting yourself. You only need to distract until you feel calm again, it may only take a few minutes, you may need an hour or a half-day or a day. It gives the momentum of the uncomfortable thoughts a chance to wane. If the thoughts race again, distract again. With practice, you’ll find the length of time you need to distract decreases, and the length of time you’re able to focus on the difficult subject without getting overwhelmed increases.
4) Have simple systems set up in your business to make things easy for you.
Having simple systems saves you time, energy and money when times are good. In times of challenge, they help you stay on track, remember what you’re supposed to be doing, eliminate decision fatigue, and help to distract you from what you cannot control, and focus on what you can. I regularly help my clients to clarify which systems they need to set up and support them to make it happen.
5) Know your minimum viable effort tasks, do them, then focus on self-care and compassion.
There are tasks in business and life that are more important to the success of our business and life than others. Prioritise what is essential to maintain or grow your business, and focus on those. The time you save by temporarily letting go of the non-essential tasks can be directed into self-care and compassion activities.
During stressful times, you need to increase your self-care practices to maintain your steadiness and resilience. Give yourself total permission to do so. You deserve it.
When life happens in unexpected ways over which we have little or no control, it’s only natural and human to try to take control back. Knowing what is inside and what is outside of your control helps us to maintain more of a balance during challenging times.
If you’d like support to keep yourself and your business moving forward during difficult times, feel free to set up a free call so we can discuss whether having me on your support team would benefit you.