I’m a tried and true introvert, so I’m pretty comfortable being by myself. In truth, I need ample time alone (or in the exclusive company of my cat, Willow) to recharge my batteries, to process my own thoughts, and to allow my creativity to flow.
So, the solopreneur lifestyle is one that I’m generally well suited to. I like being alone, I despair at team building activities and long staff meetings, I am grateful for the freedom to create a working environment that is tailored to my quirks and preferences.
All that being said, my fellow introverted solopreneurs out there know that this kind of life also brings its challenges.
We tend to get deep into our own heads and it’s hard to pull ourselves back out.
We worry, we imagine entire disastrous scenarios based only on our impressive imaginations. And we can get stuck there.
If something unexpected or discouraging happens in our day, it can knock us way off track and we can spiral into places of self-doubt and self-imposed angst.
Actually, that is what just happened to me today.
We’re not talking about anything life and death here, but essentially I was feeling really good about paying some bills and getting my finances in better order, when I got an unexpected and hefty bill that put me right back where I started.
This is not the end of the world, and it is part of the deal when you work for yourself. But, I know myself, and I could feel the beginnings of that angst creeping in, so I decided to nip it in the bud with a walk in the sunshine to recharge. Well, I sat down to write this first, and then I’m off for a stroll.
I am still a messy work in progress when it comes to running my own business, but here are five simple techniques that really help me when the fact that I am the boss, and I’m all on my own, and I have to figure it all out, gets on top of me.
- Remember that you’re not actually in this alone and you don’t have to figure it all out. Instead of retreating into my introvert cave, I force myself to reach out to someone for help or human contact. Sometimes I text or email a friend and fellow entrepreneur, not looking for answers to a specific question, but just to remind myself that there are people who understand what I’m going through and can give me a little pep talk. Or, I may listen to a business podcast, to get some solid advice and inspiration (one of my favorites is Talking Shop with Theresa and Bri, they are always wise and it makes me happy to listen to them). Or, I call my Mum, my husband, or my sister when I just want to hear a friendly voice.
- Get dressed and go forth into the outside world. When you work from home, it is too easy to slide into a pattern of sitting at the computer in your pjs all day. This can be a perk of the lifestyle, but it’s a slippery slope. In the morning, get up, get showered, go for a walk and then come back to your office and start your day. Or, if you start feeling overwhelmed by all you have to do during the day, stop, get outside, and go for a brisk walk. This always clears the cobwebs and usually inspires me with new ideas or shows me the solution I’ve been looking for.
- Take care of your physical form. Listen to your body. Working from home can mean a lot of sitting, don’t forget to move and nourish yourself. Take a yoga break, jump on the stair-stepper, have a mini dance party with your cat (or other furry companion). Have a glass of water or make yourself a nice lunch and eat it away from the computer. If you’re hungry, dehydrated and stiff, you probably aren’t going to do your best work.
- Make a “to do” list. I know that doesn’t sound very relaxing, but it helps me to clear my brain when I’m feeling overwhelmed. If I notice that I’m fretting, wasting energy by thinking about all the small things I need to get done rather than enjoying and focusing on the task at hand, I take a moment to write down all of those matters that need my attention. Then I know that they are accounted for, they won’t get lost in the shuffle, and I can move forward without them swirling in my brain.
- Take a break, for real, and do something that you enjoy. For me, this may be meditation, reading a book just for fun, pulling some Tarot cards for myself, or (let’s be honest) a dose of Kitchen Nightmares on Prime or whatever cooking show I can find on Netflix. You don’t have to throw in the towel and give up your productivity for the day, but a short break that allows you to put your business aside, just for now, can work wonders.
These techniques are simple and straightforward, I know, but it is startlingly easy to ignore them and fall into patterns that don’t serve us well. If you’re a solopreneur, or you work from home, try some of these ideas, or make it a priority to figure out what works for you.
Many entrepreneurs, myself included, chose this lifestyle because they just couldn’t fit into the 9am to 5pm cubicle and wanted to follow the path that works for them, to follow the path of their passion. So, I say to you (and to myself), remember, this is supposed to be FUN. Don’t let the pressures of running your own business trick you into thinking this is supposed to be a grind, or an endurance race, or some kind of punishment for taking an unconventional route.
Take care of yourself, learn to flow with your own energy and working style, and enjoy the ride. If you do, you’ll produce some wonderful, unique, and valuable work that will serve your clients well. And you will feel amazing.