The magic ingredient for success
I was recently invited to take part in a Blog Fest, organised by Judith Morgan in celebration of her book “Your Biz Your Way”. This is such a wonderful project to be part of, so huge thanks to Judith for the invitation!
The theme for Judith’s Blog Fest is an exploration of what it means to run your business your way, so that’s what I’m pondering this week. As well as sharing my own experience, there are also lessons here for everyone: doing things YOUR way is key to being more productive!
Let’s go back to the beginning
Six months before I quit my job I was suffering from stress and anxiety. I was managing a team of five in Higher Education and felt the pressure daily. It came from outside of me (frequent, perplexing changes to government policy, staffing issues etc) and from within me (perfectionism, feeling responsible for absolutely everything etc). It’s really no wonder I became ill!
When I eventually realised I was never going to be well whilst in that job, I handed in my notice.
My experience as a flat-out, stressed-out, burnt-out employee has a lot to answer for:
It’s because I was so exhausted that I googled ‘slow down’ and discovered a whole movement built around the concept of slow and simple.
It’s because I was at rock-bottom that I started to seriously consider my options outside of employment.
And it’s because my health suffered that I was able to take a leap of faith and hand in my notice, despite not having a clue where my first client would come from.
Yes, my experience in that last job has a lot to answer for. In a strange way it actually empowered me, and I’ve been running my own business - doing things my own way – ever since.
Helping people get stuff done with less stress and more ease
Many productivity experts promise that if you do what they say you’ll turbo-boost your efficiency so you can get more done, grow your business and earn more money.
We hear it all the time: if you want it badly enough you need to hustle. If you want to succeed you have to get up at 5am and work all the hours.
Last year I sat in on an online training session delivered by a big name in the world of productivity. One of his approaches for getting stuff done? To lock himself in a room for 8 hours with just a laptop, food and drink. He’d give the people on the other side of the door strict instructions to only let him out if he needed to use the bathroom.
(Obviously that wasn’t this guy’s reality on a daily basis, but still…!)
That extreme approach might work for some people, but what about the rest of us? Those of us who enjoy getting outside to breathe in the air, who feel motivated when we play our favourite music or who might want to cosy up under a blanket and take a nap in the middle of the afternoon?
If we want to enjoy those things, does that make us any less driven? Any less serious about our business? Any less likely to succeed*?
Taking regular breaks allows our brains to reboot (hands up if your best ideas come whilst in the shower or on a long walk). Playing our favourite music reunites us with our oomph and increases our energy levels. Taking a nap when we’re tired is far better than pushing through regardless and not doing our best work.
I'm fed up of seeing the word 'hustle' everywhere I look. I don't want to hustle, thank you very much! Why would I choose hustle over ease?
My work as a productivity mentor is not about encouraging you to cram more and more into your days. It’s about helping you figure out what’s important so you can focus on that in a way that’s both efficient and that feels good. I want you to be more productive so that you can create the space for the things and people you love. Ultimately, I want you to enjoy the lifestyle you envisioned when you set up your business.
Yes, I share tools, tips and advice that can help you combat overwhelm, tackle procrastination and help you to focus. But there’s one magic ingredient, without which all our efforts to be more productive are doomed to fail:
It’s self-awareness that will give you the confidence to choose your own path. To take the tools and techniques you’ve read about – whether related to productivity or running your own business - and turn them into something that will work for you. To filter out the advice that isn’t right for you. To keep your eyes on your own paper. And to stop fixating on what seems to be working for others and wondering why it isn’t working for you.
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to productivity and no paint-by-numbers kit for running a business.
And when you realise that?
Well, that’s when the magic happens!
*Of course, success doesn’t look the same for everyone. For some, it means earning lots of money so they can own all the latest gizmos, live in a big house, have a wardrobe full of designer clothes and drive a new car. But for me (and many of my clients) success simply means being able to make money from doing what I love, and having the freedom and flexibility to live a life that’s aligned with my values.
Has self-awareness been an important part of your business journey? Do let me know in the comments below or join the conversation in The Getting Stuff Done Collective on Facebook!