All entrepreneurs (even ones who are full of passion and engagement for their work) feel fatigue from time to time. It is natural, and it is human.
I felt fatigue today. I woke up and I felt “down”. I honestly had no rational basis for feeling this way. This past month our business made more money than we have ever earned. All time highs in profit. I’m just coming off several public speaking gigs (including a TEDx talk), and I have many other public speaking opportunities and workshops lining up. Books sales of Unsuited are doing well. I’m engaged in some really interesting consulting files. I do what I love, on my own time frame. Really I have no reason -NONE – to feel down.
But I still felt down this morning anyway.
So what do you do when you are an entrepreneur and you feel down? How do you deal with it?
One of the benefits of being an employee is that you have to show up for work, even when you are tired. Otherwise you will lose your job.
What…..that doesn’t sound like a benefit.
Well it is a benefit if you are an entrepreneur because you want to show up for work each day. That is how to make things great, and you want accountability to show up each day.
When you are an entrepreneur you don’t have someone watching over you. So you can “not show up for work” and no one will know. You can even rationalize it, and say “it doesn’t matter today”, “one day is no big deal”. However when you get in the habit of doing this, you run many risks. One day turns into another day, and another, and before you know it your business is in trouble (if you even have a business left at all).
I’ve learned in my seven years of 100% self-employment, that the freedom that I get from being an entrepreneur has a real cost. The cost is that I have to show up every day. The cost is discipline.
The cost is that I can’t use “I feel down” as an excuse. I can’t be a tumbleweed of emotion. I have to change my emotion on my own. I have to master my internal state.
So here is a trick that I’ve learned that can be employed by any of you (who are also self-employed or commission based sales) for those days that you don’t really feel like “showing up” for work. For those days that you feel down:
Emotion is created by motion. If I don’t feel like working, then I really, really, really need to get to work. There is magic in work however, because as soon as I start taking action my emotions will change. It is 100% guaranteed. Pretty soon I will feel ok, and I will have momentum, and I will be grateful that I didn’t waste the day just because I “initially” felt tired or down.
Specifically there are two strategies that I use to change my own state:
1. Move and breathe
This is magic. Take 20 deep breaths into your stomach. Go for a brisk 20 minute walk. You will get the blood flowing, your brain will get that oxygen that it needs and you will start feeling good.
2. Hit a “flow state” as quickly as possible.
Immediately engage a flow state. Start a project that requires your total energy and focus to complete it. When you channel a flow state you lose your sense of consciousness of the self. All of your focus and attention is directed on the accomplishment of a specific task. When you do this you stop thinking about “the fact that you feel down”. Within an hour or two you feel great. I personally also like to use music to channel flow. Putting on motivating music in the background as I work. This works for me.
Flow is a state change drug. It is powerful
So this morning, when I was feeling down, I knew that I needed to do both of these strategies as quickly as possible. So I did them. I moved and breathed and I hit flow (in my case I worked on a presentation for a new workshop that I am developing). Within two hard hours of hard work I felt great.
This general concept is also explained by Og Mandino (from the Greatest Salesman In The World):
It is one of nature’s tricks, little understood, that each day I awaken with moods that have changed from yesterday. Yesterday’s joy will become today’s sadness; yet today’s sadness will grow into tomorrow’s joy. Inside of me is a wheel, constantly turning from sadness to joy, from exultation to depression, from happiness to melancholy….weak is he who permits his thoughts to control his actions; strong is he who forces his actions to control his thoughts…
If I feel ill I will double my labor
If I feel fear I will plunge ahead..
From this moment I am prepared to control whatever personality awakes me in a day. I will master my moods through positive action.
So the next time you don’t feel like it, just start. You’ll feel better shortly.
Remember – you are the master of your emotions. You are not “what happens to you”. Your emotional state is a factor that is 100% within your control.