A 4-part blog series by Rebecca Thomas
As entrepreneurs, we face our own set of challenges. That’s part of what we sign up for when we step out on our own. Now that we’re facing a pandemic, it’s easy to spiral even further into overwhelm, frustration, and isolation that are already commonplace for us. What can we do to shift out of these behaviors; not only right now, but FOR GOOD?
Who can relate to these things – burnout, isolation, overwhelm? I know I can. A year ago I quit my former work-from-home, salary position in email marketing to open my own Life Coaching practice. Have I experienced all of the things mentioned above? Absolutely. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I live a life full of purpose, sharing my gifts with others, to help them find the peace, purpose, and passion that so many of us yearn for. And I dare say those very things are what drive us as entrepreneurs.
But I don’t think ANY of us saw a pandemic in our futures; circumstances that would close so many businesses and opportunities down, while setting an unsustainable pace for others are our current reality. And with that comes a whole new dynamic to our unique set of problems. Let’s take a few minutes to talk about something else that MANY of us are struggling with, boundaries and focus.
This time we’re going to talk about two things that are related – focus & overwhelm.
Can we just state the (hopefully) obvious? Almost everyone is distracted, overwhelmed, or being pulled in a million directions right now. There are so many new things to navigate that we are overwhelmed with options, new standards and procedures, and on top of that we’re experiencing a pandemic. Your focus will be off. And that’s okay. Even so, how do we channel focus and what does that look like?
From our families to ourselves, society, work spaces, connections, and vendors, new situations and information are rolling out daily. We’ve got a lot on our plates. Where do we start? I bet that’s the first hurdle.
1. When it comes to your family, what you need, what they need, are those things clearly stated? What do you need to have a productive day (or even some productive time if a whole day isn’t possible)?
Tell your housemates what that looks like. Find out what they need too. Whatever is going to make things easier in your household is where you can start. Does that mean a more inspiring work space? Rearrange the space you’re using. Does that mean making sure that you set CLEAR expectations with your Significant Other around what you need to get done through the day to feel accomplished, and what you need from them to make that happen? Have that conversation. Does that mean making sure that you put on some soothing music, an inspiring movie, or a personal improvement video to listen to while you work, or even during your breaks? Do that. Experiment with what makes you feel better. Feel better as in harmonious, joyful, inspired, and motivated. When you can find that, you can lean on it to be more productive and retain that pride in having an accomplished day, no matter what that looks like in the present.
Focus is related to another area – overwhelm.
How are we supposed to channel focus when we’re being bombarded with so many changes, so much information, and dealing with our emotions at the same time? Where do we start filtering out what we don’t need, and what’s necessary? It’s exactly that, starting. Choose one thing, and go with it. You’ll most likely find clarity in your decision.
Make the first choice. Try it for a bit. Find your clarity, and then choose to either stay with that choice, or pivot into something better. And don’t feel the need to throw yourself back into the overwhelming pool of information if something doesn’t work. Do you have a friend, acquaintance, or resource that can recommend something for your particular situation? Ask. Ask for feedback, recommendations, and ways that work better.
Something that’s causing a lot of overwhelm right now is how our educational systems are shifting. As parents of school aged children, many of us have to fit the role of principal, teacher, and tutor, on top of our regular parenting responsibilities. If we’re being honest, that probably scares the crap out of us. All of a sudden we’re holding ourselves accountable for years and years of their lives, based on things that haven’t’ unfolded. These are some questions that will help you realize whether you’re clear on the expectations and process, or whether you should ask, pivot, and shift in order to better meet the needs of yourself and your child.
1. What does the school expect of you and your child?
2. What’s important in making that happen?
We may feel the need to apply too much structure to this situation, because we *think * it should look a certain way. Why does it HAVE to look that way? Maybe it doesn’t.
3. What support systems and structures are in place, and what ones do you need?
Talk to the school. Tell them what’s working and what’s not working. Find out if there are alternatives. Keep communicating. They need our communications and feedback just as much as we need theirs. If something truly isn’t working, the more people they hear that from, the more likely the parents and students will get the changes they need to help everyone succeed. Get creative and very, very graceful about how things can be shaped and stay focused on the emotional goals along with the main educational goals (in my family’s case that consists of working through 6 weeks of materials starting April 20th).
This could be one of the greatest opportunities to take advantage of an unconventional way of educating our kids. Let’s find ways to make that work for us. These are uncertain times, but hey, we’re entrepreneurs. We wrote the book on uncertainty. This chapter will be what we make of it. And I absolutely believe that each of us has the ability to create great things from this. You’re amazing. Don’t forget that.