Hi everyone, it’s Jo Gifford here, and this is episode 23 of Work Smarter, Dream Bigger, Live Brighter.
Today we’re going to be talking all about what to do when it all feels useless as a solopreneur.
I’m sure this is something that many of you will have been through and will have experienced, I know I certainly have.
It’s part of the entrepreneurial journey which I wanted to dive into this morning, and this is my first ever time of recording the podcast as a Google Hangout.
I’m doing a live Google Hangout On Air to record the podcast and so this morning I’m sharing that broadcast to welcome comments and feedback and just as a kind of experiment! You can find the recording at the bottom of this blog too – if you prefer to watch than read!
What to do when it all feels a bit useless?
Not so long ago, probably about a year ago, just before my business kind of exploded to the next level, I really had this feeling an awful lot, that feeling where everything’s useless, it feels like everyone is doing so much better than you and you feel like you’ll never get there. It’s something I know lots of my community feel and I’m sure lots of you guys out there on your entrepreneurial journey will either have felt or might be feeling right now.
That feeling can really hold you back, but it’s also one to embrace and to learn how to move forward with and learn what to do so that next time that rocks up, you can deal with it!
First of all, let’s look at reasons why you might be feeling useless as an entrepreneur.
One of the first things is the comparison trap. I mentioned earlier that we look at other people and we’re thinking, “oh, it’s fine for them, they’re doing so well, or how come she can do it and I haven’t done it yet?”
That comparison trap is negative for a couple of reasons.
- It’s negative because you’re projecting a vision of what the person, that company, that brand is experiencing when you don’t know the full details of what they’ve done to build their business, of how they’ve got there and all that sort of stuff.
- It also reflects on you, in that you don’t believe that you can get there, and mindset is just so much a part of our journey as an entrepreneur.
To try and keep yourself believing that you can do it is part of the battle, and it’s a really huge part of it.
I’m not saying that every day you’re going to wake up full of zing and knowing that you’ve got it in the bag and it’s all going to be awesome and you can totally do this because we’re human, and it’s important to remember that part of the human experience is that sometimes we can just feel a bit crap about stuff, especially as a solopreneur.
If you’re being really visible all the time and if you’re putting yourself out there, you’re hustling, you’re creating products, you’re putting yourself on the line in a really public way, if you feel or perceive rejection or failure, that can be really tough and it can be such a personal feeling. It’s something that you can really take to heart.
The Comparison Trap
So the comparison trap is one thing that can make you feel useless, so try and stay out of that mindset where you’re comparing yourself to other people.
Another reason is tiredness, pure and simple.
As entrepreneurs we’re running our own businesses and often our brains don’t switch off and we’re in it all the time, aren’t we?
We’re brainstorming, we’re thinking about things, we’re doing all the stuff behind the scenes, we’re doing the podcasts, the blogs, the content creation, the marketing, the admin and emails.
Until you build your team, you’re doing a lot of it yourself, so tiredness is really common. Not only are you doing the actual work, client work or building your stuff behind the scenes, but you’re doing the rest of it as well.
Tiredness can really make you feel as if everything’s going a bit wrong, and I am terrible for this one.
Quite often I’ll reach a stage, and I’ll be honest, guys, it happened at the weekend, where I was crying and thinking, what’s going on? I have a real pity party for one and I’m really kind of wondering what’s going on, what shall I do, shall I go back to having a proper job, all this kind of stuff, and actually it’s usually just tiredness.
If I go and have a little chill for a while, I’m fine, so you need to take yourself out of that zone of feeling really ground down and feeling like you’re grinding in your business, like you haven’t got enough time for anything else.
You need to have a balanced life, a space away from your business in order to be as awesome in it as you need to, and also most of us have become solopreneurs and entrepreneurs because we want to have a better work/life balance, and I’m sure lots of you guys have as well.
Keeping the balance
We want to have a better relationship between life away from work and life at work, because actually usually, if it’s our own business, it’s something that we love to do, we just can’t get enough of, and especially if you’re doing it right, you’re sharing your personal gifts with the world, and that’s something you love doing.
We want to keep that balance, we want to keep that mindfulness going on about having enough space away from the screen, having enough space with other human beings, and this is something that we’ve been talking about a lot in the Brilliance Ignition Mastermind, which is a free mastermind.
There’s an option to upgrade to get all the printables and to get more bonus audios and videos, but it’s a free four week mastermind all about igniting your brilliance and using creative thinking in business.
A huge part of the creative process in business is to enable the space to happen, so you need to have space for your ideas, you need to step away from the noise to be able to let your genius shine through. Sometimes if you’re feeling overwhelm and tiredness it’s because you’re in it too much and need to get out, and that can mean an hour away from the noise.
Be brave and maybe take a couple of days away from social media, see how you feel about that. Maybe you could even outsource if you’re at the stage where you have a VA or someone to help you. Maybe you could outsource your inbox for a few days and get used to not having your emails flowing in to you, get used to stepping away from social media just a bit, and I promise you, guys, the world will not fall in! It will all be fine!
Just to find that space really helps you to tune into yourself and what you really want to be doing and it keeps you back on track. It also works as part of the creative thinking process, so we have that space for what we call illumination, those Eureka moments.
I’m sure you guys have noticed if you’re ever in the shower or out having a run and you’re switched off from everything, that’s when your best moments happen and your ideas often rock up. You can actually help that process by building in space, and part of that is to listen to your body and listen to your mindset.
If your negative talk is occurring a lot more often, if you feel like you can’t cope and it’s all feeling too much, step back a little bit. It often doesn’t take as long as you think, because usually when you’re in that zone you feel as if you’re so busy and you can’t possibly step away because what’s going to happen, well, actually, you’re not working effectively if you are in that zone.
I’m telling myself as well as you guys, because I used to reach that stage, and as my business grows and grows there’ll be more learning curves to have, and I know people above me who have been doing this longer than me who still have that stage and it’s something that you just have to learn.
Say a year ago, I was having this feeling, this zone, probably every week I’d feel completely useless, everything’s rubbish, I’m never going to get there, then as I learnt to work with that feeling and to know that things are getting better, to know that I’ve been working really hard and I’ve just got to take a break, I know now that that is part of the journey, so now when it happens, I can usually turn it around fairly quickly.
Here’s what I do
I usually step away, I’ll grab a rest, I’ll watch a film, I’ll go and have a walk, I’ll do some artwork, I’ll just chill and perhaps watch something awful on Netflix.
Often if I’m feeling really in that negative mindset or comparison trap I’ll use EFT which is Emotional Freedom Technique.
For those of you who don’t know it, it’s a great one to look up, and I know that Denise Duffield Thomas is a great fan of this. I’m part of her Lucky Bitch Bootcamp and you can check that out on my affiliate link.
She goes through a lot of the benefits of using EFT to get rid of your mindset and money blocks around success, because a lot of the reasons why we have mindset and money blocks is because often we’re reaching a new level of success and visibility.
I know myself whenever I’ve reached a new level, perhaps I’ve gained a whole new audience, perhaps I’m launching a new product, perhaps I’ve become even more visible and it’s feeling a little bit more uncomfortable, that next level can bring with it what we call the upper limit problems. I would urge you to read The Big Leap by the amazing Gay Hendricks where he talks about the upper limit problem.
It’s almost as if energetically your system has been programmed you to allow a certain level of success, and when you reach that, you’re really stretching yourself and you perhaps don’t believe the next level is possible. It’s almost like you’ve reached your own glass ceiling, so to move beyond that you have to change your mindset and allow yourself to believe that you can go further.
Upper limit problems can manifest as all sorts of things, as tiredness, as overwhelm, as illness, all sorts of things, so often this kind of feeling that you’re completely useless can really just be part of growth. It’s all part of reaching your next level of success, and so often it’s an indicator that you’re doing really well, so it’s worth bringing that into the mix.
What YOU Can Do
Let’s also think about what we can do when it all feels completely useless. As you would imagine, I wrote a blog post on it a while ago, and this one I think really hit some chords with lots of people.
So we’ve talked about finding some space, stepping away from the noise, finding space to be creative and brilliant and to just step back. A lot of it is just not having judgements, so I say find some space to be brilliant, but that can immediately make you feel like, aargh, I need to go away and be amazing. You don’t, you just need to be, you just need to hide away from the screen, from social media, from expectations, from your own mind for a little while and just let yourself be you.
This is one thing that I talk about in my blog post – which I’ll leave in the show notes below – is that sometimes you just need to reconnect with people who have no idea what you do in this online business world, people who don’t care what you do, who don’t care whether your launch has been successful or whether you’ve had x amount of open rates or whether your funnel was working properly, just people who love you for who you are.
That to me means connecting with my kids, particularly, with the mini divas. They don’t care whether my launch has worked or not, they just care that I’m mummy and that I’m hanging out with them. I can connect with my friends, friends who don’t know anything about my business, or kind of know about it, but don’t really mind and have known me for years and years and know who Jo really is. That is really important to me, it’s really grounding.
Who can you be with and connect with and hang out with who loves you unconditionally for who you are, whether or not you’ve made six figures in a month?
Who can you hang out with that can just boost you for being you? Help you re-find your flow, find some space, reconnect with your brilliance, look back and see how far you’ve come!
This is a really important point. Often we’re looking forward all the time which is great because we’re manifesting, we’re visualising, we’re working towards something, but look back and see how far you’ve come.
When I did this just the other week, I was having a moment and I spoke to my mastermind buddy and good friend, Tara Newman – and you guys must check her out – we were talking and she was like, Jo, you’ve increased your business ten times in a year. I was like, oh yeah, that’s actually really good. Tara really had to show me that this time last year I would have been really envious of myself right now. My audience has grown ten times, my sales have grown ten times, literally everything has grown ten times, and because I’m still looking to the future, I kind of couldn’t see that.
It’s important to look back and see how far you’ve come
Go through your notebooks from last year and maybe look at your goals from the years before and realise that you’ve actually come such a long way!
Remember that experience is vital and you just can’t hack it. This is a post that I wrote as well about how experience can’t be hacked. You can’t hack all those feelings, all those growth spurts personally and in business that you have as an entrepreneur. You can’t fast forward. You can learn from others, you can have coaching, you can have mentors. You can fast forward by taking on board learning and investing in yourself, but part of the journey is that your journey is bespoke to you, it’s unique, and you just can’t fast forward it.
Remember that everyone else starts from somewhere as well. All the people that you admire, Marie Forleo, Danielle LaPorte, Jonathan Fields and Denise DT, anybody who is an awesome entrepreneur who you really love, they’ve started off from somewhere, they’ve started off with a rubbish website, with no audience, not knowing how to do this stuff as well.
Everybody starts from somewhere Check out this post that shows you how awful their websites were when they started out. Actually, everyone really has to start from somewhere, so you are on your part of the journey and you can’t compare your middle to someone else’s end or someone who is further down the line, it just doesn’t work.
We talked about EFT as being something that can really help move along those feelings of failure, and another great person to turn to for EFT is Brad Yates. If you Google him or look him up on YouTube he has got so many scripts about tapping and clearing and unblocking negative thoughts around money, around success, around business, so have a look at Brad Yates and he will provide you with some scripts.
We’ve grounded ourselves with people who love us unconditionally, we’ve taken some time out, we’ve tapped it out, we’ve gone to be creative and we’ve made some space.
Build a Gang
Do also connect with people who do get it, who really understand, who really know what you’re working on, so build a little posse around you, which we talk in the Brilliance Ignition Mastermind as being your cluster of people who totally understand what you’re up to.
This might look like a mastermind buddy or two, it might be in your Facebook communities, it might be in offline networking events or it might be people who you talk to online. Whatever it is, people who know who you do, it should probably be your coach or your mentor, having these people are part of your team who really know what you’re about and can help you move on, is really, really important. They can be the ones to kick you up the butt and make things work a bit faster.
Feel the Love
Another really handy thing to do is to store your love letters and testimonials from clients and your audience, and I have a couple of ways of doing this.
I tend to paste any lovely comments and words of appreciation and thanks, either when people hit reply from a newsletter or they thank me for a programme or for a one to one session or something, I store those emails in Evernote which makes it really easy to dive in if I’m feeling really crappy and I feel completely useless and nothing’s working. I can pop in and see that so-and-so said last week that my hour session with them helped them unbelievably and they’re moving forward in their business, and I can really feel that, okay, that’s great, I do know my stuff.
Or maybe somebody from Blogging for Business Bootcamp has been writing about how their audience has doubled and their sales are coming in and they’ve actually built a whole business using their blog, and I’ll know that I’ve made a difference.
I also have a jar of awesome in which I write down things which I’m really proud of, really pleased with, any quotes that people have sent to me, and I fold it up in the jar and I can dip into it if I feel really, really rubbish.
Over To You
I would love to hear how you guys feel. I would love to hear how you have dealt with feeling useless as an entrepreneur.
Have you got any strategies to get over that awful feeling, have you discovered ways of coping with it? There are all sorts of ways that you can get your comments to me.
You can either email me, email@example.com you can tweet me @dexdiva using hashtag #episode23, you can leave me a comment below this podcast or you can find me on Facebook, facebook.com/dexdiva.
On the website, you will see a little icon on the right hand side which says ‘leave me a voicemail’ and you can go ahead and do just that and I will give you a shout out next week on the podcast with some comments.
I would love to hear how you get on when you feel useless as an entrepreneur. What do you do? Have you applied any of the strategies that I’ve been talking about here? How do you make it work for you in your business?
I record a podcast every Monday and it drops every Friday on iTunes, on Stitcher radio and on my site, so you’ll be able to listen to that then, but if you’ve been part of the hangout right now, you’ve seen it already! Until next week, have an awesome day and stay brilliant!
As promised here’s the video for those of you who like to watch!