You’re running your business, everything is going smoothly, you feel like you finally have this whole entrepreneurship thing down, and then another big challenge hits.
Maybe it’s time to start applying for grants. Maybe you need a new type of license. Or maybe it’s time to scale up and all that entails.
Whatever the challenge is, it’s something you haven’t done before and, suddenly, all that confidence you had with your routine is thrown out the window.
In the blink of an eye, the person staring back at you from the mirror is that same 18-year-old kid about to jump out into the world of adults with no clue how or what you are supposed to do.
You might as well have just been thrown into the jungle, face to face with a tiger.
The world feels somehow strange and unfamiliar. Even your normal routine doesn’t work anymore because, well, you obviously need to work in this new kink.
It’s easy at this point to shut down, tune out, and try to ignore the elephant in the room just so you don’t have to make any changes.
Don’t beat yourself up about it. Believe it or not, it’s human nature to resist change even when you know it’s good for you and even when you’re confident about taking chances elsewhere.
Rather than letting a new challenge stop you cold, here are a few steps I take to help me overcome the overwhelm a little faster.
Step 1: Breathe
First, take a deep breath. Yes, I know it sounds hippy and new-age, but it really does help. Go ahead. Inhale, count to four (or eight), then exhale. The simple act of focusing on your breathing, and counting how long you are holding it, interrupts the spinning nature of your overwhelming thoughts and you give yourself some space to process.
Go ahead and keep breathing until the world slows down a little. That’s your mind’s signal to you that it’s ready for the next step.
Step 2: Define
Next, place some definition around the overwhelming thing. Just like taming a wild tiger, you don’t want to do this without some frame of reference. Give yourself some boundaries to work within. What is it you’re needing to do, what is the end result you’re seeking, how will you know you’ve succeeded?
Asking yourself these questions helps you look at the bigger picture and ensure this thing you’re thinking about will lead to what you really want to achieve. It also opens up the possibility to consider other options that might work better with less effort.
Step 3: Build
Once you have the cage built, decide what needs to go in it. What pieces need to be pulled in to make this new idea work? Is it possible to bring in help, either by delegating some of the work to an existing employee or contracting some of it out to someone with more experience and knowledge in the field? What materials or other resources will you need? What kind of timing is involved?
Bonus step: Tell the Story
One way to think through all these steps is to tell yourself a story of what it looks like as you bring this change into your business. Watching for the gaps in the story helps ensure you have all the pieces accounted for.
The benefit of taking this step is two-fold. First, with the story in your mind, you have extra confidence because, as far as your mind is concerned, you’ve already done this once. Second, you now have an action list of steps to take to achieve it so there will be fewer surprises along the way.
Now all you have to do is to implement that list one step at a time. By the time you’re done, you’ll be able to tame that tiger into a lap cat.