Being a creative entrepreneur, you’re probably full of good ideas for creating new products & services and making your business really shine. But, if you’re like the rest of us, you also face challenges from within that can hold you back and even make you doubt your own ability to run your business successfully and keep your clients coming back. Instead of letting negative thoughts get in your way, try these four techniques for staying positive and moving forward.
1. CHANGE YOUR MENTAL TAPE (negative self-talk no more!)
All of us have a “tape” or conversation we have with ourselves when life is great and things are going our way, and another completely different tape we play when facing challenges or feeling down.
Usually the things we say to ourselves when we’re on an up-swing are positive, motivating, and uplifting. But, when we are being pushed to our breaking point; experiencing a rough patch; or even just struggling with personal issues unrelated to our business, we play a very different tape.
What you say to yourself when you are already feeling down can have a huge impact on how quickly you bounce back and how often you fall into negative self-talk.
Instead of letting the same cycle take over next time you’re feeling low, go to a quiet place and tune in to the thoughts you’re having. Listen for phrases like “I can’t”, “I shouldn’t”, “I’m not”, and instead of absorbing those words, visualize them coming from an old tape player or cd. Then, imagine you’re taking the tape out and putting in a new one. This one you know is full of positivity and uplifting phrases, it’s more like the one you hear when things are going great.
Start playing those phrases in your mind instead – even if you struggle to drown out the negativity – for each down phrase, say an up phrase. Use words like “I can”, “I will”, and “I have”.
Once you start practicing this visual meditation it will get easier and easier to do each time. Eventually, you won’t have to think about it too much, you’ll naturally catch the negative self-talk and flip the tape.
2. SQUASH SELF-LIMITING BELIEFS
There’s nothing truly holding you back today, except for you. Ironic, isn’t it?
Somehow we all impose limited ideas on ourselves whether we mean to or not, it’s just something we learn to do. After all, society builds itself around a healthy dose of realism – people want to think in absolutes and can be quick to point out shortcomings.
So, how do we respond? By limiting ourselves before anyone else can. An obvious example of this would be “I can’t take that educational course because I’m not good at homework.”, and a less obvious but equally limiting example, “If I invest in that program it will probably be a waste of money because I won’t use it all or know what to do with it.”
Immediately, right out of the gate, we’re defining what we can and can’t do. Before we even try…
So, how do you begin to undo a lifetime of setting limitations? Start by countering every self-limiting belief with a positive, shoot-for-the-stars kind of mantra.
You do have success in your life, you have done things you know are high-quality – find these examples and repeat them to yourself in place of the limited thoughts.
For example: if you think you aren’t good at making new connections, force yourself to recall the last time you did make a good connection. Think of the contacts have already made and relish that you CAN be good at meeting new people.
Once you find a single example of succeeding, you’ve already disproved your belief that you can’t. Now, create an opposite for your limiting thoughts. When you believe you can’t do something, tell yourself (out loud) that you can. When you think you’re not good enough for something, tell yourself instead that you are worthy and deserving.
It’s really that simple.
The trick is, you’ve got to do it every time and force yourself to counter every limiting belief.
3. REINVENT FAILURE AS FEEDBACK.
The idea of failure often feels like an ending point. It’s the “do-over” button on your projects and goals and because of that, it can seem like one more hurdle to overcome. Instead of a failure propelling you forward, it stops you in your tracks. But, it doesn’t have to be that way. Failure is just as much a beginning as it is an ending point.
Next time you fail to meet a goal, your project falls apart, or even if you lose a client; let failure be an open door for you.
What do I mean by that? I mean reimagine failure as an opportunity to try again, only this time you know more than you did when you started the first time. Now you have feedback on what DOESN’T WORK so you can push forward, towards what could work and what will work.
Instead, examine your shortcomings and failures to determine what you can change and do better, then you’ll be earning your success.
4. PLAN THE STEPS TO SUCCESS BY WORKING BACKWARDS.
No path to success is complete without a plan. After all, it’s easier to carve a path when you have a destination in mind. It isn’t hard to create a blueprint for the success of your business, but it will take time and effort.
Start by focusing in on one portion of your life or business. Think about an aspect that you’d like to grow and make sure it’s specific enough that the final goal is not overwhelming and that it’s measurable.
For example: your goal might be to grow your client base by 10% every year.
Once you have an idea of where you want to put your energy and efforts, think about the individual steps it would take to get to that point. Then write them down, it doesn’t have to be in order – that comes next. Just record the logical steps that come to mind as you’re brainstorming. If your goal was to grow your client base, your list might look something like this:
- advertise more
- get more referrals from current clients
- increase repeat business
- expand products & services offered
Once you’ve got your list, you can then begin to think of the best order to complete the steps in.
Sometimes you may decide it doesn’t matter what order they go in, number them anyway. Other times it’s about budget and some options cost less than others, so do those first. Once you have your list and the order of priority, you can move on to the last step, creating check-in points.
To keep your goal on track and to give your plan flexibility, create natural check-in points along the way to help you pause, evaluate, and revise so you can stay on track to meet your end goal, even if circumstances change.
An example of a natural check-in point would be taking time after trying a new advertising campaign to evaluate how it worked, how much closer to your goal it got you, and if you should keep doing it or move on to your next step. Create a check-in opportunity (and write it down) that will follow each step of your plan.
Now that you’ve got a written copy of your goal and a plan to make it a reality, you can get started. Just take it one step and one check-in point at a time. If you get to a step that no longer feels necessary or should go in a different order, feel free to eliminate or revise that step.
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