Getting caught up in running your business - the never-ending, always growing, day-to-day activities - can quickly put you on autopilot. Just like your drive to the office, supermarket, or gym – you don't have to think about how to drive your car to get there, you can just "zone out" and time seems to speed up somehow.
(I can't tell you how many times I've pulled into a parking lot wondering, "How did I get here? Last thing I remember was getting into my car…" I'm definitely not ‘Uber-approved.’)
When money is getting tighter and tasks are spiraling out of control, you need to stop working.
Wait what did he just say?
We should stop working?
"You may be so busy working in your business that you can't work on your business."
If you're noticing a downward trend, it means something's broken, and you need to look at things from a different angle in order to identify what's not working.
It's easy to forget to stop and smell the roses, or for that matter, even pick your head up to look for a garden. There's lots of advice going around lately about how important it is to be present, be aware, be ‘in the now,’ be conscious. How it reduces stress, brings more joy and connection between yourself and the world around you… all great things, indeed. But the other thing it does is allow you to get out of your unconscious, ‘tunnel-vision’ mode of working.
And when you step away, you put time, space, and distance between you and your business, which allows you to look at it from a different perspective. From this position, you can now see things that weren't visible (or obvious) when you were in your daily grind. It'll be easier to discover inefficiencies, solve problems, and identify new opportunities.
"Stepping away opens up opportunities through new experiences."
Last year, I went to visit a friend in the hospital who I hadn't seen in a while. It forced me to take a half-day off and step away from my desk. While chatting over lunch, he mentioned a club he and his wife had joined near us in downtown Orlando that provides a place to gather socially, network with other business professionals, and serve the local community. Kristi and I joined shortly thereafter, and we have enjoyed a few chef's tables and wine dinners where no business was discussed, but friendships were made.
Just this morning, Kristi came into my office and talked about how, over the last few years, the club's fundraising activities for their charities hadn't been producing the results they wanted, and she had some thoughts about what needed to be changed.
This made us realize that there was a new group of potential clients for us, along with a new offering. In addition to Kristi's marketing experience, she's had extensive experience in fundraising, so this would be a natural fit for a new Significantly Successful service to offer.
But it's not something that had been obvious to us. If I hadn't literally stopped working to visit my friend to learn about the club, as well as us both of us taking the time to get to know the people and activities at the club, we wouldn't have had this new business idea (or at least not nearly as quickly.)
"Don't neglect personal growth."
Personal growth can lead to business growth through new experiences, new learning, and potentially new clients or products. The time, effort, and money are a wise investment in both yourself and your business.
Remember, participating in your hobbies can reacquaint you with existing friends or allow you to make new ones. The little stories and anecdotes you share about your lives are not only entertaining, they also bring you closer together and serve as a great resource for new ideas. You'll also get a better understanding of what knowledge and skill sets they have that may be able to help you now or in the future.
Here are a few activities that have helped me:
- Listening to podcasts, audio books, and videos (audio only, of course) in the car, walking the dog (lets me catch up with the neighbors, too), and at the gym (both lifting and on the treadmill.)
- Reading a few pages from magazines and books before starting my day and before settling down for bed.
- Meeting friends for lunch to catch up and to hear about what they've been up to and their experiences (and trying to listen twice as much as I speak.)
- Committing to a charitable organization, like Rotary International, to meet more people of all different age groups, and also to share and learn from them.
- Participating in group activities like wine-tasting dinners, cooking classes, charity events, and scuba diving.
- Joining and participating in Facebook Groups that aren't related to my business. (This is a great opportunity to search for conversations that relate to your business and get outside perspectives.)
Just like when you're trying to remember the name of that actor who played that guy who did that thing in that movie that was awesome (where you need to stop thinking about it in order to bring it to light,) the same holds true for your business.
Plan at least one day each week to stop thinking about - and stop working in - your business, and schedule time to do activities that let you focus on yourself and something you really enjoy. Before you know it, your next break-through idea will magically appear!
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