As I write this, my feet are firmly planted on the floor. I feel where my back and legs connect with the chair.
If you like, stop and do this with me.
Rest your hands palms down on your thighs. Breathe in deep enough to fill an imaginary balloon that sits right behind your belly button. Exhale.
You are officially grounded in the present.
Because, if not, holy smokes! How easy it is to start hyperventilating (or mindlessly downing potato chips) thinking about the impending recession, the crisis with Ukraine, ever-present COVID, even things flying around in space aimed to hit the Moon and Earth.
Long-term goals, daily actions, to manage the “what ifs.”
Why is this critical as a small business owner? Because often you are the whole shebang. We are the ones delivering the service, managing the people, planning for the future. Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to start the day by looking at the news, social media, or even having a conversation with a family member, and get completely paralyzed. We worry about the should (what SHOULD I be doing today to prepare?!) to avoid later “shoulda’s” (ugghh…I “shoulda done that!).
Here are three things that work for me to keep the big picture in mind to manage overwhelm and frame daily work.
Annual Goals Mapping
Studies say that January 19th is the average date by which people give up their New Year’s resolutions. It makes sense. Any “this year I’m going to do X” ambition, without 3/6/9/12 month action steps behind it, can’t happen. Break everything down so even if it seems inconsequential in the moment, you can see how it relates to the end goal. For example, a goal to “double annual billing” could start with applying for the Goldman Sachs 10K Businesses or having a mentor review your proposal and pricing processes.
Subscribe (and Unsubscribe).
I have a friend in the crisis communications business who reads 20 to 30 different news sources a day and has alerts set to ring on their phone with every update. That works for them to feel like they’re on top of what’s happening. For me, you would find me catatonic on the floor after the 2nd or 3rd alarm.
That said, it is good to find sources that you trust for key things. I read Chris Brogan’s email for business owner/leadership mindset. The WIRED Fast Forward newsletter is great for what’s on the horizon for technology. And I’ve got Hunter Clauss’ The Rundown from WBEZ and The Skimm for news headlines. The last two are daily, after all it is news, but the other two are weekly. That is plenty for me.
And never, ever feel bad about unsubscribing. If you are not reading something, even looking forward to getting it, it may not be a good fit for you. And that’s okay.
I go old school with an Excel spreadsheet. Of course recording billable hours is critical to tracking profitability of clients. And it’s also helping diminish black holes: it’s 11:00 am (or worse, pm!) when I set out to do something and suddenly it’s 12 and I have no idea what I’ve done. Record a start time, end time, and a word or two about what you’re doing.
Feet Back on the Ground, Eyes Open
Those are some things I do every day to stay focused and move my business goals forward in the face of so many current and coming world (or personal) crises. Both feet squarely on the ground. Focusing on objects in your physical environment. Reminding yourself, bad things could happen but they’re not happening right now, in this moment, in your office.
Now don’t forget to track 10 minutes for breathing.