Now even more so…

How are you, friend? Where are you on the rollercoaster right now?

Like many, I’m up and down, exhausted and hopeful, trying and then resting. I’m incredibly grateful to be home, safe, well, with my humans. I’m grateful to be able to show up here on my blog, occasionally on social media, and for my clients and groups.

The conversations with clients and the things I’ve been thinking about have often brought moments of “This! We need to think about THIS!” shortly followed by, “But we have always needed to think about that…”

I’ve started naming it the Now Even More So principle.

Here are some examples:

Comparison

We know, don’t we, that comparison is the thief of joy. Right now, it’s not only the thief of joy, but also the thief of sanity and survival.

While real life is kind of shut down – shops are closed, we’re not going out – the internet is very, very alive. And some of the internet is amazing, supportive, truly great.

But I know that for many of us, comparison has increased dramatically. We’re looking to our peers and our leaders and our favourites to show us what to do. We’re not sure what we should be doing. And so we slip into a comfortable groove amongst all the uncertainty:

We compare ourselves to others.

Friends, if this has been you, and most likely is has been, I offer compassion. It is natural to compare. It’s sooooo easy. But no one is you. No one has your exactly skills or experience or situation. And no, you don’t have to keep up with anyone right now.

Whatever you can do to reduce this very human form of self-torture, prioritise it! Don’t drive yourself insane.

Money

I think this is where a lot of us have been hanging out, too. The money worries.

Again, we can worry about money at the best of times, can’t we? And yet Now Even More So.

Clients who don’t usually worry about money are freaking out. People who’ve been in business for a really long time are struggling. Because none of us have ever been here before.

I thoroughly recommend working with an accountant to get the best financial advice for your business, and reviewing the government’s guidance on what you are eligible for.

Know that any situation you’re in right now is not your fault. It’s really easy (for me, too) to blame ourselves, to think that we should have prepared more or that this has hit us harder because we messed up.

This is not your fault.

Any time we worry about money, it hinders creativity, which is ultimately how we get out of sticky situations. The aim, as ever, is to release the worry – or at least put it on pause – while you allow your wisest, most creative, most resourceful self to be in charge.

You have survived. You may need to make hard decisions. You may need to ask for help. But right now, you just have to make the next decision, the one right in front of you.

Discernment

There are, on any given day, about a billion possibilities. This is still true. There are SO MANY options available to you.

I find this a comforting and encouraging thought.

But it also means we have to flex our discernment muscles. During normal times (remember them?), we practice discernment and prioritisation. Well, Now Even More So.

Discernment isn’t about making perfect decisions. I repeat: this is not about perfection!

It’s about choosing the things that matter to you, and the things that don’t. Sometimes, it’s about choosing ONE thing that matters most, and letting others take a back seat for the time being.

It’s about saying no to one thing so that you can say yes to a better thing.

Discernment is a muscle. It requires head and heart. In these uncharted waters, we need both Now Even More So.

What else?

There are more of the Now Even More Sos. Imposter syndrome, focusing on one thing at a time, grieving past decisions, creating community, marketing with authenticity… Not to mention environmentalism, activism, dismantling the patriarchy and white supremacy. They needed our attention before, and now they need it even more.

We’re still going. Even if you business is on pause or hibernating or becoming a different size or shape, you’re still going.

Even more than before, it’s vital that you believe in yourself. That you keep putting one foot in front of the other (even if it’s right back into bed). That you live closer to your dreams than your fears.

Support

I’m running weekly live calls through my Progress not Perfection membership, which is currently Pay What You Can. Join us on Mondays at 12pm, and get access to past recordings and resources when you sign up.

I’m also putting together a directory of small businesses who are still delivering, offering freebies, or sharing services. Add your details here.

Internal vs external input

There’s a note on my desk that says, “Where’s the helpful external input?”

It’s from my notes about personality types for my upcoming course, Making Better Business Decisions. For introverts who shun external input, or for those of us struggling to use social media as a positive tool, rather than a massive time and energy suck, this question feels important.

And it is important to understand why we sometimes crave external input, and other times run from it. Sometimes we just want someone else to give us the answers, and other times we want everyone to back off.

For me, positive external input includes educating myself and receiving help and encouragement. It might be a book, a podcast, a coaching session, or a pep talk from a friend. Sometimes these things don’t work, but I have a list of the things I know usually help on my noticeboard.

When external stuff gets in the way, it’s usually because it’s triggering comparison or negativity in me. That’s when I need to go inside.

In the world of social media and an internet full of advice, opinions, and a million self-proclaimed experts, it’s really easy to get caught up in what other people think, do and decide. It’s easy to compare yourself, to think you “should” do it the same way other people do it (whatever “it” is).

It’s also easy to get totally distracted by world events, arguments, politics, and despair. Not that these things are always distractions – sometimes they need our urgent and active attention. But when you’re running a business and avoiding your good and necessary work, they can be distraction of the highest order.

So. Where’s the helpful input?

Who are your trusted advisors and guides? Why do you trust them? When do you seek them out?

Which areas of your business require external education or input?

Which areas of your business are 100% your realm?

Do you need to dial up your external input? Or do you need to dial it down?

Not all external guidance is intrinsically bad (hi, I guide people for a living), but when we give all our power away to other people on the internet or in our immediate vicinity, we’re not really living our dreams or building the business we really want.

More soon

To discover more about how you process internal vs external input and other decision-making processes, stay tuned! I’m working on something good for all of us.

The beauty of working with a coach or mentor

Before I dive in, just a note about language: I’m currently pondering my own relationship with the words “coach” and “mentor”. I believe they’re different, but I also believe I do both. So please forgive that I use both in this article. Other business mentors or coaches probably have different opinions on this distinction.

As I return from maternity leave, I’ve had some pretty good reminders of what it’s like to start up in business. All that excitement, but also all those questions you have: Should I do this thing? What about that? How do I prioritise? Who am I targeting? What should I focus on?

And on and on…

Just like when I first started out, I’ve had to become my first client again. I sit with my own questions, and I ask myself what I’d ask a client. What’s really important this year, this month, this week? Who’s going to benefit most from my work? How do I really want to show up?

It’s incredibly easy to get taken over by questions, fire-fighting and comparison, or even imposter syndrome.

Here are a few ways working with a good mentor or coach can help:

They’ll hear what’s really important to you.

A good coach is trained to hear what you’re saying beneath the actual words you say. You might feel like you’re just talking or perhaps have a bit of verbal diarrhea, but those of us with an attuned ear hear so much. And we reflect that back to you. Or we ask a pertinent question. We help to guide you towards clarity.

They’ll help you stay focused and accountable.

Usually, with all the listening and the questions and the talking, we reach a point where we know the focus you need. You see it, too. There’s a first step, and a second, and you take it from there. A good mentor will help you find a way to take that first step, and stay accountable a few steps down the line, so you don’t get distracted by things that aren’t on your important list.

They’ll see things you don’t.

A fresh pair of eyes on your business and your personal strengths and weaknesses can be invaluable. A business coach will spot opportunities you haven’t, and will share insights on your business structure, marketing, customers, brand and more (depending on their unique skills). If you run your business without a partner or business manager, this can give you so much: more money and profit, more energy, more enthusiasm – and less time-wasting.

You’ll learn how to work through decisions and problems.

Sometimes, you might work with a mentor to get through a big change or a big decision in your business. But if you work with someone over a longer period of time – say six months or more – you learn so much about how to approach different situations. Making one decision is great, but learning the skill of decision-making has a long-term payoff. A coach has insights and questions and ways of thinking about things that will boost your business skills for years to come.

They’ll champion you and your business goals.

The thing about having a coach is that they’re on your team. Which is exactly what you need if you’re a business of one! Friends and family are great, but coaches have the professional and business knowledge so that they not only boost your mood, but also get you doing the best things for your business. It’s such a relief to know someone is on your side.

I could probably go on and on! Depending on where you are in your business journey, there are loads of ways a business mentor or coach can help you. If you’re starting out, they can help you get going. If you’re building on the early years, they can help you find your stride. If you’re considering a shift or pivot, they can help you see and make that transition.

There are so many options

There are loads of business mentors and coaches available these days (certainly many more than when I started in 2014!). Find someone you like, who has experience that will help you, who says the things you need to hear.

If that person is me, or could be me, I’d love to hear from you. I work with business owners (mostly women) who are in various stages of business, usually creative. I help them to understand themselves and their businesses better, in order to make better business decisions.

Get in touch and set up a free chat to find out if we’re a good fit!

(Thinking of becoming a mentor or wanting to improve or establish your mentoring business? I’m going to be launching some resources for you later this year. Get in touch to get the info when it’s ready!)

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