Unfortunately (or fortunately), I happen to be an unofficial expert at getting my mindset right. That doesn’t mean I’m always good at it, but I’ve been working on figuring it out for most of my adult life. A recent turn of events that may have otherwise sent me into a tailspin, did the opposite. I turned inward and focused on improving myself: mentally, physically, and emotionally. Afterward, I came out on the other side, feeling and doing better than ever. Now I’m ready to start sharing bits and pieces of what I’ve learned from this experience.
First, I want to be clear. I need to relearn these things constantly - daily. And I often fail. But that is why forming a community to learn from one another and hold each other accountable is so important to me (see my first blog post on mentors and finding our true selves). When someone chooses to open a small business, it takes a lot of mental strength and clarity. We have a lot to gain by simply having a conversation around mindset and hearing what has worked for others.
Here’s what has worked for me:
Accept your inner critic, then wave goodbye (with five fingers or one - your choice).
I’m pretty sure - though I haven’t polled all humans - that everyone has an inner critic: that voice that says, “You aren’t ready,” or “Someone else is better at this than you,” or “There’s no way this will work.” Sound familiar? I really get angry at that inner critic sometimes.
Sometimes listening to or reading about positivity and motivation makes me feel more defeated and I question why it’s so hard for me to just silence that inner voice. Some of the best advice I’ve gotten about mindset came randomly from a book about mindful eating, Savor - Mindful Eating, Mindful Life. It speaks to not resisting negativity, but accepting it. I know that may not seem that interesting or impactful, but it did wonders for me. It made me realize how frustrated I would get when I heard that inner voice, which would only give it more power over me. Today, I take a much more lighthearted approach. When I notice that inner voice - and get ready for cheesiness here - I say something like, “Oh hey there. I don’t really need your advice today. It’s not helpful - at all. Talk soon!” I then imagine that voice shrinking away, sulking about not getting to do her job. I know she will come back tomorrow. But she’s defeated for today.
If you want to take the leap of starting your own business or side hustle, you can’t afford to let that inner critic influence you. For me, this is similar to the concept of “pushing through fear.” You will always hear that voice. You will always feel that fear. You just accept it and then don’t pay much attention to it.
2. Self-care is more than just soaking in a tub while your life crumbles around you.
I feel compelled to talk about this, because today self-care is such a buzz topic. Often when I see a post about it on social media, someone in the comments says something like, “sorry, but I don’t have time for that!” There are also people who hate baths or anything relaxing and just want to plow through life. You know what, that’s ok!
For me, self-care simply means figuring out what you need (it sounds simple but it’s not), and communicating that need to people who can help you. For example, even though I lead with extroversion, I get exhausted after too much time around people. I know this to be true because my good friend, Genevieve Artel, recently personality-typed me. It doesn’t mean I don’t like being around people. It means that after a period of time, I need to recharge alone. Sometimes the time spent with people is good: holidays with family, any time around children, long weekends, vacations, etc. It doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy that time. But after a while, I turn into a version of myself I don’t particularly like, and who isn’t that enjoyable to be around (sorry family!). I recently explained this to my very extroverted husband in a way he understood, and now he gives me that time when I need it. I’m amazed it took me 37 years to learn this very simple thing about myself, but it did.
One thing to note: If you feel like there is no one around who can help, I would challenge you to think again. As I learned from the book, Go Milk Yourself by the TheMilkinMama, you are never alone. Figure out what you need, and then figure out who you can ask for help. There is someone in your life (a friend, a neighbor, a relative) who will want to help if you just ask.
3. When you don’t know what to do, just do something.
Again, this seems super simple, except so many people get stuck in their heads - I’m raising my hand high here. You can find so many reasons why something won’t work (see number one above), or you think you need to figure out everything before you start doing something.
For example, when I started writing this blog post, I knew what I was going to write for number one, but I had no idea what number two and number three would be until I started. And here I am, composing a brilliant post that will undoubtedly change your life (OK OK, only kidding). When I decided to start my own business, I had various directions I thought about taking with different positioning ideas, different name ideas, etc. Instead of letting myself get too caught up in details, I just started. After starting, things came together and one idea would lead to another. In fact, I had a different business name when I first started - I was just going to brand myself: Sara O’Brien Marketing Consulting. Super interesting, right? I even had a logo created. Then when I created my website, I had to create a URL / domain name. And, hard to believe, but all the good versions of www.saraobrienmarketing.com were taken! So I started to play around with my initials and different taglines and eventually SO Tell Your Story was born. If I had never started DOING, none of those things would have fallen into place. I’d still be brainstorming my business name for hours at a time (yes, I did that for a while). It’s easy to change direction when you are first starting out, so just start! You will be surprised by what comes forth.
Well folks, that’s it for this edition of “Three Simple Ideas”! I’d love to hear if any of these ideas are working for you.
And if I haven’t told you lately: you are doing amazing things, SO tell your story!