Are you *gasp* out of alignment in your business?!
Go ahead. Get it out of the way right now. Give me all your eye rolls and smirks and snide remarks. Come on, I can take it.
It’s because of that word alignment.
You probably cringed a little because that word has become so overused it basically doesn’t mean anything anymore. Much like most buzzwords…
But it’s actually something you need to keep in mind when you’re building, running, and growing your business. Because, when you’re out of alignment, everything is going to feel so. much. harder.
Much like trying to drive a car that’s out of alignment in a straight line.
Now, to be clear, I’m not a business coach, although I do spend a hefty amount of time around some majorly awesome ones. So, yeah, I’ve picked up a thing or two. Not to mention I happen to run my own business…
But today this advice is coming straight from me and my personal experience (with some insight from the aforementioned majorly awesome peeps).
You see, things had been feeling, well, off in my business. It had legs, but it felt like a complete and utter slog.
(Caution: No, owning a business isn’t going to feel like face licks from puppies all day everyday. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows and sparkles and confetti and chocolate smoothies. But if you’re not getting ANY enjoyment out of it, something’s probably off for you, too.)
Then, I had a Zeus-sized lightning bolt of clarity and inspiration: I wasn’t doing what I really wanted to be doing. In hindsight, these five things were just a few of the signs I wasn’t on the right path. I mean, I was in the neighborhood, but it was like that path in Beauty and the Beast when Belle’s dad decides to go down the dark and scary one with all the spindly, haunted-looking trees instead of the bright, happy-looking one with all the chirpy birds and flowers.
I was procrastinating.
While I upheld my record of never missing a deadline, I was putting stuff off as long as possible. Especially client work. I’d build time into my schedule for it and then find all these other things to do instead. Like:
Write another blog post
Catch up on some online classes
Brainstorm new ideas
Scroll mindlessly through social media
Watch daytime TV
Clean out my closet and attempt to consign stuff online
Stalk million-dollar beachfront homes on realtor.com
You can argue that this was merely a scheduling issue (which I admittedly have, mostly stemming from a healthy resistance to following a schedule…). That I was still getting (some) work done. That who the hell cares as long as I was meeting my deadlines. After all, one of the perks of running your own business is that you get to make your own rules, right?
Here’s the thing: There’s always a reason behind the procrastination. Sometimes it’s fear or anxiety, but it’s not laziness or lack of motivation or intelligence.
Only you can really know what’s behind your procrastination, but you’ll know. Because I knew. Even if it took me a really long time to dig into the niggling feeling in my gut.
(Seriously resisting the urge to throw an intuition comment in here…)
I was exhausted and burnt out.
I know what you’re thinking: There are plenty of reasons I could have been feeling exhausted and burnt out.
True, true, my wise friend.
But I know what my regular energy level is (totally different for everyone, FYI, so don’t be thinking there’s some bar you’ve got to meet) and how I typically feel. And this…this was next-level exhaustion and burnout.
It was pretty much the WHO-approved (the World Health Organization, not the band) legit definition of burnout.
Which, if you haven’t heard includes “feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion; increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one's job; and reduced professional efficacy.”
Check, check, ANDDD check.
All medical definitions aside, it was really hard for me to muster up any energy or enthusiasm for work that I wasn’t energized or enthused by. Work that, actually, was sucking out every last drop of energy and enthusiasm. (I picture those drops as a bright green globs of Slimer-consistency – and color – goo…)
It’s truly exhausting forcing yourself to do something everyday when you have a choice to do something else.
I was giving in to the “shoulds.”
Should is a dirty word. Almost like a four-letter word, except, you know me, I don’t really think of those as dirty words. Just another part of language and my vocabulary.
When we get into “should” thinking, we’re asking for trouble. And I was inviting so much trouble into my life and my business because pretty much 85% of my thoughts and sentences involved “should.”
I should post on social media every day.
I should say yes to this prospective client.
I should sell this service.
I should do live video.
I should stop watching this Real Housewives marathon.
I was should-ing all over my business, and it looked (and felt) like shit.
I wasn’t doing anything I wanted to do – just things everyone else wanted me to do. And, yeah, that totally fueled the procrastination, exhaustion, and burnout.
Just because I’m aware of this Obsessive Should Syndrome doesn’t mean I’ve got it all figured out. I still feel the allure of a classic “should” statement, such as: I should be more serious when I write my blog posts.
But I’m aware of it. (That’s the first step to recovery, right? Admitting that you have a problem?) And I’m actively working to transform all the shoulds into wants or get tos.
Let me give you an oh-so-helpful example:
I should get new headshots … becomes … I want to get new professional headshots so my face isn’t all fuzzy OR … I get to have a photographer take new headshots – yay me.
It’s just a subtle shift in thinking and wording, but the energy is sooo much different.
So, now, whenever I hear myself sputtering out a should, I have a pretty good idea that something’s not quite right.
I felt resentful.
Okay, this was the big thing for me. It was a major epiphany, and I felt completely guilty for even thinking it.
But here goes…
I was resentful of the work I was doing. I was resentful that I wasn’t using my talents (aka skillz) to my advantage. I was resentful that I didn’t have time for my own creative projects.
You can imagine any work created from that mindset wasn’t exactly the best I had to offer.
Admitting it to myself was the biggest relief I had felt in a really (really really) long time. Once I said it out loud (to that group of majorly awesome business coaches and other biz owners), I felt so much lighter.
I’m not trying to be all woo woo here. I no shit felt like this feeling that had been holding me down and oppressing me and keeping me stuck suddenly vanished as if I’d thrown an invisibility cloak over it.
Of course, I had to work through that feeling of guilt (uhh, still am), but naming the feeling and starting to own it was so freakin’ empowering.
Okay, before this turns into some woo woo empowerment rant, let me just say this: You know. You know when something’s right, when something’s off, when something’s not working. You don’t need someone else to tell you. (Having someone else validate it can be helpful though.) And only you know. You have all the answers.
Yikes, skewed to the woo there.
I’d love to hear how you know if your business is out of alignment. Shoot me a quick note (I read every single one and respond, and I’m not just saying that to look cool) and tell me how you recognize and deal with alignment issues. I’ll even entertain car alignment issue thoughts.