9 Ways to Keep Up Momentum When You Work For Yourself
Nine sure-fire ways to maintain momentum if you run your own gig
In employment, we spend so much time working on other peoples’ dreams, it’s natural that when we start our own business, we want to create as much freedom and space as possible for our own.
You know the daydream. You’re working a life-sucking job, dreaming about running your own business; you have your own time schedule; no boss or office dramas; spare hours every day to wile away with family, read books, do yoga or meditate, maybe daydream a bit more.
I finished my last contract in 2015 and officially launched Spark Escapes. I stopped working for someone else and had time to relax and enjoy life. But after 6 months, I developed what I’ve termed ‘Freedom Paralysis’ with my business and lost momentum.
We strive to achieve freedom but what happens when we have too much?
I’d created my own space, my own schedule - I had achieved what I set out for. I had so much time for myself and such little responsibility to anyone else. However, I became paralysed in my 100% freedom. There were so many exciting ideas running around my head but I couldn’t properly move forward on any of them. I was only answerable to me, myself and I. And I was on constant holiday.
Releasing ourselves from all commitments but not committing to any of our own
After the first crazy, exciting six months of the business, I spent the next twelve having a super time attending workshops, having quality time with friends, doing exercise and meditation.
However, it took a while for me to realize what had happened to my work energy and I even started telling myself I was failing at running my own business.
Time passed by with little momentum on the projects and creative activities that drive me and my business. I was still making things happen, but just small, mediocre tasks which weren’t setting the world on fire. I even took a full time job again at one point to try and fill the space I’d created.
Ironically, I’ve wanted to write this blog post for 12 months.
Maintain momentum before you end up back where you started, working for someone else
If you - or plan to - run your own business, here are nine ways to keep up your momentum and avoid Freedom Paralysis:
1. Work when you’re at your best
Recognise whether you are someone who produces your best at certain times of the day (eg. first thing in the morning, or when night falls) and set those times aside for work. Or are you someone who can go with the flow during the day and kick ass on your project as and when the mood takes you? If you’re the latter, make sure you act on each impulse.
A second part to this is making sure you fill the void left behind by full-time employment. We go from being told what to do, where to be and at what time to managing our own schedule. If you know you work well on a structured schedule, make sure you create your own.
2. Seriously set your own goals
I lost focus. Read: I had stopped setting myself goals. I thought I’d achieved the ultimate - complete and utter freedom – but without goals, I floundered.
We need goals to a) progress b) achieve and c) challenge ourselves. And to maintain momentum, we must hold ourselves accountable.
3. Create your own security
Full time employment provides many securities which running your own business doesn’t. Identify what these securities are for you and start providing them for yourself. One which I personally found hard to let go of – and you may be the same – was receiving a decent monthly salary. I had to do some tough inner work on letting go of this (telling my ego to let it go) and build my self-belief that I could live without it.
4. Collaborate or co-work
Working with others, whether it be on a project together or being in the same space as others running their own thing, is energizing and adds momentum to your business. If you’re feeling flat or lethargic, you can be uplifted by others’ drive. Networking provides the same.
5. Work with a coach
Find the right coach or mentor and they will help you keep momentum. They will challenge you and in turn you’ll find drive and enthusiasm for your work. (I’m a coach and I still have a coach).
Mind and body are one. Keep your brain in gear by moving your body. I’m not one for yoga and I can’t really run where I live, but I love an early morning walk to fire me up for the day. Coincidentally, when I stopped this activity for a while, my productivity noticeably decreased.
7. Have creative hobbies that engage your brain and make your heart sing
If you fully enjoy hobbies and things you do in your spare time, that feel-good feeling will spill over into your work energy and momentum. I taught myself to DJ at 39 years old and even though I’m not very good, I love flexing my brain to learn the skills and all the fun it brings.
8. Recognise when you are procrastinating
Making good decisions is important for the success of your business and ultimately your happiness but procrastination is a bitch and a sure-fire way to slow down your productivity. Recognise when you’re taking time to making the right decision or flim-flamming around because you’re scared. Running a business is a risk; just embrace it.
9. Don’t be a perfectionist
Inside, I want to have everything perfect; to create something so amazing that people will envy it/me. But if I stick to perfectionism, I create a downward spiralling nightmare.
In most cases, good is good enough. The majority of entrepreneurs just get their stuff out there and see what sticks.
Elizabeth Gilbert says perfectionism is just an excuse to create a delay.
Seth Godin says ‘Anything beyond good enough is called stalling and a waste of time’.
I learnt many lessons during this period and have come out the other side with more energy and vigour than before by applying these nine rules. Phew. I hope they will help you straight away so you don’t lose your momentum.
What can you do now?
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