Sometime last week I was running around like a chicken sans head, all frantic and self-flagellating about all of the things. The things I haven’t gotten done. OMG, I am the worst business owner. I am letting everyone down all of the time. Does that sound familiar to you?
Those of us living in hustle mode and constantly running towards Better are often guilty of making a mountain out of a grain of sand. We have lofty goals for ourselves, and scant understanding or kindness for ourselves when we’re blocked on them or fall short.
It’s not doing us a lick of good to self-flagellate when we feel off-track. First, it’s bad for your brain. But on top of that, it’s just not productive. In fact, we’re more likely to continue to fail when we’re wasting time beating ourselves up when we need to be knocking down the tasks that make up our goals.
I’m here to help you reclaim your zen with some things that snatch me up out of the self-punishment rut. Next time you’re freaking out, ask yourself these questions to gain perspective, be kind to yourself, and focus on the real problem (which, contrary to what your brain is saying, is not that you’re a total loser).
“Am I making sure I’m taken care of?”
You’re in a self-punishment loop and might be wondering why this is a relevant question. But here’s the thing: shelving your basic needs to spin your wheels on tasks you’re not getting done anyway is totally counter-productive. Solutions often happen with space; your brain needs care and breathing room, to work out all the problems and move you forward.
At the very least, make sure you’re adequately fed and clean/comfortable. No one task or client is going to go off the rails because you took a shower.
Maybe take a walk, get some sun, and approach the next two questions with a clear mind.
“Has anyone else expressed frustration with me on this topic or task?”
This will help you determine if this is a real issue or an imaginary issue. Meaning, is anyone but you all het up about this? Do you have clients on your ass about it? Is your business partner truly about to lose their shit at you?
If so, then you know you need to prioritize this task appropriately. But beating yourself up about it will not move you forward.
When the answer is no, you know it’s mostly imaginary. Calm the hell down and move towards taking real action, as that’s the final key to finding peace about it.
“What am I actually doing wrong?”
With this question, you’re seeking a specific answer.
These are examples of a non-specific answer:
“I’m just not doing [it] fast enough.”
“I was supposed to be rich yesterday.”
“I am a copywriting failure.”
These are examples of a specific answer:
“I underestimated how long this work would take.”
“In February, I did not follow up with my leads.”
“I didn’t block writing time into my calendar yesterday.”
Do you see the difference? The difference is that the specific answers are actionable and measurable, and therefore useful. You can see mistakes, accept them, and set yourself up for success by fixing those mistakes, now and in the future.
Let’s work on changing our habit of self-punishment. It will take a conscious effort to find zen even when we are in the weeds. Think of Mr. Miyagi and “wax on, wax off” — Wax those productive questions on. Wax that self-flagellation shit right off.