Ask Amber is a newsletter I periodically send (Sorry, ADHD) providing advice to questions my friends ask (with their permission). If you are interested in asking a question or receiving the newsletter, sign up in the here.
Dear Ask Amber,
How do you manage all the decision-making and next-step-taking without anyone to bounce ideas off of, second opinions, etc.? Do you have a system for making decisions? An accountability partner? A fellow business group? Have you invested in a really reliable magic eight ball?
Bonus points if you’re a people pleaser and accustomed to doing things with permission and/or what you’ve been told to do.
Indie Sigh Sive
Investing in a really great 8 ball is a great place to start. Wouldn’t it be nice to get a “yes definitely” or “no, try again” on most things in life? I wish I’d thought of it first. Let me know when you find one, I’ve got more than a few questions to ask.
In the meantime, this topic has been really fun to put together my ideas on, thank you for asking. As a business owner myself, who was raised similarly to you, I have some thoughts. Lots of them. I’ve divided them into a simple, four-step plan (patent-pending) for those who don’t want to read all the things.
Decision Making in Four Easy Steps
Step one: Decide where to go
Step two: Choose a path (including a handy list of decision-making shortcuts.)
Step three: Start climbing
Step four: Keep going
See? It’s easy! You’re welcome.
The longer version of this answer has you building houses, climbing mountains, moving to different countries and talking to cats. It’s a trip, but not a drug-induced one, except for maybe the cat part.
Each of the steps has common roadblocks that keep people from moving through that step and on to the next – at least from what I’ve seen in my own experience and by observing others. I try to address some of those issues and some potential solutions.
I’m going to start by collecting the bonus points, not only because I like bonus points and I’m playing to win, but I think context is important.
As a woman in the U.S. you were most likely raised to be a people pleaser, not rock the boat, and to manage everyone else’s emotions. It’s so tightly woven into our culture, in so many subtle ways, that it’s almost impossible to tease the “why I’m this way” threads from the tapestry itself. Is it:
- our very American Puritanical roots?
- your family of origin?
- the religious culture of your youth?
- the water we drink?
You were also most likely given a framework in which to live your life, where most decisions were already made for you, and the small part in making decisions you did have, there was still going to clearly be “right” and “wrong” answers in general, and if someone didn’t agree with that decision you were responsible for how they felt about it.
For example, it was assumed as a girl that I would grow up, get married and have children. There was no other option, not if I were also to live up to the other part of how I was raised, which was to make everybody happy, not rock the boat, and manage how everyone else (supposedly) feels about your choices. You could decide who to marry and when and how many children to have (in theory) but getting married and having children was a given.
Once you had a baby the next question was “when are you going to give them a brother or sister?” At least I was asked this for the first time when my youngest was just weeks old. It wasn’t a matter of if, but when. I still wasn’t really making the decisions, and every decision I made was shrouded in the approval or disapproval of my community. My responsibility wasn’t for my decision, but how my decision made everyone around me feel.
Welcome to the Land of Codependence and Unhealthy Boundaries where the people are nice, but will walk straight through your flowerbeds while smiling and telling you how “really great” everything is… except your flowerbeds are such a mess and wouldn’t it be nice if there were fewer weeds and weren’t you going to plant some fresh flowers?1 Maybe more purple ones this time? Purple flowers would really fit in better in the neighborhood and better match the houses around you. Those yellow flowers you planted before? Well, they just look tacky.
I know this land well because I grew up here too. I still visit way too often. I know their ways and I recognize fellow citizens. A key reminder for me is remembering the lesson from Into the Woods. “Nice is different than good.”
Build your own house
When I went to therapy 2 the therapist used this analogy for building a life based on my wants, needs and desires and learning boundaries. She had me visualize my life as the house I had lived in for the last 32 years. 3 It was built to the specifications and standards of my parents, siblings, friends, husband, my church, the neighbors… and maybe there might be a little bit of my design influence in there somewhere. But if someone didn’t like it I’d change the curtains or rearrange the paintings to make them happy, regardless of how I felt about it. I had built a life to please everyone except myself. The worst part? I hadn’t even considered my design choices, because I’d never been taught I could. It wasn’t a passive lesson either. I had been taught to ignore my inner self and serve others and build a life for everyone else around me.
Enter February 2011. The year of the destruction of everything I’d built with everyone else’s designs and preferences in mind. I tore it all down and was starting over. I got to decide the foundation, draw the blueprints, decide where the walls went, the building materials, paint colors, how to decorate and furnish. Everyone had an opinion, no one was happy.
Except for me.
You know why? I started to move out of the land of Codependence.
I had a front door that could shut and lock. You don’t like my paintings on the wall? You don’t have to come in then. This is my house. You are welcome to visit, but you don’t get a say in the décor, because I live here, not you. You can love me or you can… leave. Go build your own house somewhere else and decorate it how you like!
There are a lot of people who miss my old house, but that’s because we humans don’t like to let people change. We’re really, really bad at it as it turns out. But the people who love you will adjust. Those that can’t won’t do well with your new boundaries, but you’ll be fine. Because your new house will feel a lot more comfortable and you’ll meet all sorts of new people who love to hang out at the new place and think it’s a great place to be.
But learning how to make a decision, without worrying about perfection, other people’s opinions or feelings means you get to build your thing. It’s REALLY uncomfortable at first, but it gets easier. I promise.
Side note: I still frequently visit the land of Codependency and Unhealthy Boundaries. I’m working on that along with my savior complex… not sure how this column takes that into account. But it takes a while to acclimate to a new culture and learn the language. It’s a process. Having a tour guide/therapist really helps, and so does being gentle with yourself.
Step one: Decide where you’re going
In business, there isn’t usually a “right” or a “wrong” answer.
Not only that, there are a million decisions and at least a million things to get done. What should you do first? Where do you start? Every decision impacts other decisions, and what if you decide the wrong thing? This is when I end up down YouTube rabbit holes and spend days being busy “researching” but not producing anything. I call it “spinning.”
First off, deep breaths, to gain some clarity of what to do first, you have to decide where you want to go. Because, as the Chesire Cat told Alice, which way you go depends on where you want to end up.
When you have a quiet moment I want you to sit down, close your eyes and take a deep breath. Breathe out codependency and unhealthy boundaries 4 and breathe in your ideal self, five years from now.
We’re not choosing paths up the mountain at this step, we’re choosing the mountain itself. Which mountain do you want to climb?
What do you want your life to look like five years from now? Who do you want to be five years from now? How does your business play into that vision of your life and yourself? Does your business have a role in that future?
Notice the first two questions aren’t business-specific. That’s because what you do is a lot less important than who you are and the life you’re living. Who you are will seep into every crevice of your life, your business included. It’s very important that it comes first, regardless of the lessons you learned growing up in the land of codependence and unhealthy boundaries.
What house are you building and where is it located? Which mountain-top is it on?
What path do you need to take to get to that destination of yourself? Having a vision of where you want to end up makes a lot of the bigger decisions easier to make.
For example, I have the van plan, which is the first step in executing my bucket list.
- Go all the places
- Meet all the people
- Tell all the stories
I’ve told my kids they are free to live with me until my youngest graduates from high school, May 2023. When she graduates I’m moving out and moving into my van, they’re welcome to stay and pay rent, but I won’t be there anymore.
Then I will travel throughout North and South America (go all the places) live nomadically, meeting (all the) people and write (telling all the stories).
What do I need to do to get there? Well, I need a van, sustainable income regardless of location, to have as little debt and as few expenses as possible, to have an audience to write for and a habit of writing for them.5
Quitting? Or making room for the life you want to build?
This has been the plan for a while now. The execution of this plan has required “quitting” a lot things in order to make room for the life I want to live. Once I had a clear(ish) vision of the life I wanted to live I knew the bakery/catering business I’d been (sort of) building wasn’t going to fit the framework of that plan.
When I quit my “regular” job and started my own business it was for a lot of reasons, but at the end of the day, I needed to feed my kids and see them occasionally. The job I had wasn’t allowing for either of those things, and wouldn’t for the foreseeable future.
But it was also a job that wouldn’t be portable, not because it couldn’t, but because the type of job I was in was very set in “traditional” mindset where if you aren’t in the office then you aren’t working. I didn’t want to have arbitrary rules and requirements and am really bad at being bossed around.
Three and a half years in business later, when it comes to business decisions, I have a pretty good read on the type of work I want to be doing. The types of clients I look for, projects with various revenue streams and investments of time and energy need to align with the the five-year-plan.
In my business I am 6 working on systems of communication, project management, client management and other systems to test, refine and integrate so the business works with the target in mind. The goal is to set up a business that will succeed regardless of where in the world I live and work and regardless of where my clients are based.
Do we want to have 50 (or 5) employees?
What about a dedicated office space?
Clients that require daily check-ins?
Projects that demand constant availability?
When the “right” answer for my business is pointed towards building a business that fits the lifestyle I wanting to achieve, the answers to that question are a little easier to figure out.
So step one. Decide where you going. Once you know what you want to do then it’s all just a matter of logistics. 7
Step Two: Choose a path
There are multiple ways up the mountain and the view is always the same from the top, right? Well, it is as long as you’re climbing the right mountain.
But choosing the best path up that mountain is important, because the joy is in the journey and all that stuff. Seriously though. The mountain is large and you’re standing at the bottom and it can be daunting and feel a bit unpredictable.
What are you going to encounter up there?
What if some paths take 10 years and some only take three? The three-year path requires a lot less sleep and a lot longer hours though. Do you have the right gear? The right training? What about a Sherpa or bodyguards? Which shoes should you wear and is your hairstyle the best?
When you’re stopped before you even start because of all the decisions to make, then climbing the mountain is something you may be talking about, while running around in circles at basecamp, but it’s certainly not something you’re actively doing.
From your question, my sense is that this is where you’re stuck. If it makes you feel better, this is where a LOT of people get stuck. The base of the mountain is a busy place, but “busy” isn’t productive.
I don’t want to imply that planning is bad. It’s certainly not. But planning still requires decisions to be made, supplies to be purchased, training to be happening, bags being packed. Planning is still doing.
So why do so many people get stuck here? A lot of different reasons.
Paralyzed by Indecision
You asked specifically about making decisions, which makes me think you’re getting stuck in analysis paralysis. The root cause of analysis paralysis isn’t actually indecisiveness or not knowing what to decide, the root cause is usually fear.
The next step is figuring out what you’re afraid of.
It doesn’t matter how many decision-making systems, tricks, and tools I recommend if it doesn’t address the base reason for your lack of traction. Let’s start by figuring that out with my new favorite trick- the Five Whys technique.
The Five Whys is part of the Design Thinking process and is typically an exercise for engineers to discover the root cause of a problem and is helpful for getting people8 to think differently about something they’re close to, and the assumptions they’re making.
I’ve found it extremely helpful for business problems, undoing business assumptions and getting clients to think differently about the products and the assumptions they make about their users. I’ve found the process even more helpful for discovering the root cause of emotional roadblocks and distress not just for myself, but for other people who’ve come to me with a problem.
- Why am I putting off making a decision about the thing?
- Because I don’t know if this is the right decision to make
- Why do you think it’s the wrong decision?
- Because no one has told me to make it.
- Why would someone else know if it’s the right decision more than you?
- Because everyone else knows more than I do.
- Why would they know more about your business/specialty than you do?
- They don’t. But I don’t feel like I know enough either. I don’t want people to know that I don’t know all the things, or to discover that I actually don’t know what I think I know or am as good at the thing as I think I am.
- Why do you think you aren’t as good at this as you think you are? What would happen if someone does think you aren’t as good at the thing as you think you are?
- Because I’ve never done this before. I’m afraid that I’m going to fail.
- Bonus question- what would happen then?
- This isn’t an actual answer- but the step here is to walk through all the expected results. People make fun of you online? You lose everything and end up living in your car (hey- for some people it’s a life goal!) What are the things you’re trying to avoid by failing?
So the root cause of analysis paralysis (in this example) is a fear of failure. But try this yourself and see how it goes. It’s an interesting conversation to have in your head. Or call a friend 9 and have them walk you through it.
If you never actually get started then you can’t fail. You can’t make the wrong decision if you never get around to making a decision- right?
Let’s shift our perspective a bit.
Failure is good.
Embrace that you WILL make the wrong decision at least once, (some of us make the wrong decision more than that on the same day.) Worse than the wrong decision going down a path that looks like you’re making progress when you’re not- a clear wrong decision/dead-end means you can turn back and go a different way.
One of my favorite quotes about failure is from an engineer named Henry Petroski.
“A good judgment is usually the result of experience. And experience is frequently the result of bad judgment. But to learn from the experience of others requires those who have the experience to share the knowledge with those who follow.”
― Henry Petroski, To Engineer Is Human: The Role of Failure in Successful Design
Every failure is an opportunity to learn. If you learn from it, is it really a failure?
But if you never take the chance to sit down, make some decisions and do the thing – at the risk of failing, then you’ll never have the opportunity to succeed.
I know for me it’s fear of imperfection wrapped in the fear of saying or doing the wrong thing and actually being “seen.”
If I start putting things “out there” then people will start giving feedback. As much as I say I love feedback 10 the unknown feedback out there is terrifying. 11
What if someone doesn’t like me?
What if someone thinks what I have to say is dumb?
What if, what if, what if…
But what if I fly?
No one else really has it figured out either
This is a huge open secret. The whole entrepreneur hustle is a lot of people fumbling around, making mistakes, messing things up and hoping that nobody notices. I’ve been in those spaces. Everyone is so busy looking busy and important that the real work isn’t being done. 12.
I’m also reminded every time I work with huge companies, that they are all just a bunch of people who are also doing the best they can, making choices all day long with the best information they have and hoping they don’t mess up. But when they do mess up they learn from the “failure” and make a different decision next time.13
Imposter Syndrome is a real thing. It’s worthy of an entire dissertation on the subject. But it’s that feeling that you don’t deserve to be where you’re at, doing what you’re doing and that at any moment someone is going to discover you over here with all the “real” experts/grown-ups pretending you belong. I’ve included some resources about Imposter Syndrome in the resources section. If you feel like this is you, check them out. There’s even a test to see if this might be you.
“But Amber,” you ask, “how does that help me?”
Very good question, I’m glad you asked. Now you know a bunch of reasons why you’re having a hard time moving forward, but don’t really have a way to combat them. Here are some recommendations for making decisions without the help of others, in ways that help you move towards your mountain top.
How to stop overthinking and move forward
1. Trust yourself to do your best – Choose a mantra
No one is paying more attention to you than you. Trust that with all your heart. You are fantastic and wonderful and brilliant and good. Those are the most important things in business. Have a great product or service. Do good work. But do it as the wonderful human you are, be willing to accept your faults and still do your best work, and you will move forward.
Building up that self-confidence is hard, but tricking yourself into believing it is easier than you might think. Start by telling yourself how wonderful you are. I’m totally serious. It works.
A friend of mine who I worked with when doing standup and improv regularly would go into the bathroom before every performance and pump herself up by looking in the mirror and saying, “You are smart. You are funny. People will love you. You are good at this!” Sometimes she started by calling herself by name. She pulled all of the women performers into the bathroom before an improv show once and made us all do it. I felt incredibly silly and self-conscious doing it, and this was with a group of friends I was used to being silly with.
But it worked. It totally changed not only that performance but many, many more. It gets your brain in the right space to go out there and win. Sometimes I do this before meetings or calls that get me all anxious. I’ll slow down, breathe and tell myself (out loud) they already like me, they trust that I’m doing my best. Everything will be fine. I’m smart, I’m funny and gosh darn it, people like me!”
Bonus pro-tip for all the single people out there, I do this before dates as well.
2. Create a “decision metric”
Not all decisions are created equal. Ask yourself questions about decisions to decide just how important they are and how much time you should devote to them.
- How important is this decision overall in helping me get to the top of the mountain?
- Does this decision impact anything a year from now? Three years? Five years?
- What’s the worst thing that could happen if I don’t make a decision?
- What’s the worst thing that could happen if I do and I make the wrong one?
- How does this impact my time and energy when it comes to my business?
Use the answers to these questions to weigh the decision on a scale of 1-10 and decide where the most important actions are to take and don’t let small decisions take up too much brainpower or space.
3. Streamline as many decisions as you can by relying on experts
If you need to get your computer system and IT stuff set up- trust an expert to it for you. Pay them for their knowledge and expertise and trust it. Same with accounting processes/software, the best email systems or setting up a website. Hire14 as many parts of your business that you don’t love as you can. Hiring an accountant is hands-down the best money I’ve spent to date.
It’s easy to get stuck trying to figure it all out, thinking you’re saving money, but is it better to spend six months trying to learn how to build a website/do your taxes/design your logo for yourself? Or is it better to spend that time earning money and paying and expert to build that site for you in a few months?
4. Limit decision-making time
It can be easy to get 47 tabs open in 17 different browser windows “doing research” on something. In the world of limitless information and opinions on that information, you can spend a week researching all the different options on any topic from phone plans to the best socks and still not get anywhere.
I like to make informed decisions as well, but I LOVE the research portion of anything. It makes my brain happy and I’m easily hopping from one window or tab to the next and then 17 days have passed and I’ve not actually produced and answer to accompany my research on the best methods to remove candle wax from carpeting.15
Decide how to shortcut your decision-making time by designing shortcuts to choose when their isn’t a clear “best” choice on any decision that is low priority in your decision-making metric. Then you aren’t spinning around at the bottom of the mountain looking busy but not making any progress.
Here are some ideas for short-circuiting overthinking decisions that aren’t that important at the end of the day:
- What are the top five Google recommendations? You have to choose from one of them.
- Write down a time or a date and time when you have to decide. Deadlines are motivating.
- If all answers are good answers, throw your decisions into a hat and choose one
- Or flip a coin
- Or have your dog choose
- Or get an actual Magic 8-ball
5. Perfection is not the goal, traction is
This mind shift is important. It’s not about not ever making a mistake, it’s about moving forward. Most choices will be okay while agonizing over making those choices stops movement. Being stuck in decision-making mode will keep you at the base of the mountain while moving forward with the information and supplies you have gets you on the path!
Remember, most decisions aren’t finite
Very few decisions can’t be changed when you get more information. Become okay changing your mind with new information. Even in huge decisions like what it is that your company actually does or the purpose of your product.
I started my business just doing copywriting and media pitching. But I hate pitching media! Now, several years later my bread and butter come from branding services and building websites and we’re about to launch an app for gamers. If I was firm in my decision of what I thought I was going to be doing I would have missed opportunities to change my mind and shift paths/take a fork in the road.
Pivoting is just how companies talk about changing their mind. Don’t be afraid to make a decision when pivoting later is an option.
Step Three: Just Start Climbing!
Let’s talk about physics for a minute.
Newton’s First Law of Motion
An object at rest will remain at rest and an object in motion will stay in motion unless it meets an object of greater force.
You, my friend, are the force that is needed to get your object (business) in motion.
The hardest step up the mountain is the first one, but if you spend your time running around at the bottom of the mountain and never get going, you’ll spend a lot of time saying you’re climbing a mountain and feeling like you’re failing at it.16
One of the most impactful things I’ve recently read was in the book Atomic Habits by James Clear 17 He says to ditch goals, and instead, create values about the type of person you want to be, then, create systems of success to become that person.
For example, instead of setting a goal to reach the top of the mountain, you would have “being the type of person who climbs mountains” as your value, or who you are as a person. You would then create systems for training, acquiring equipment, learning about mountain climbing, practicing climbing, scheduling time in your life to climb. By that point you would be continuously climbing mountains, because you’ve built a mountain-climbing system into your life.
I’m a writer, but it’s really easy to do all sorts of business writing and copywriting for websites and business plans and never actually write for myself. So, after reading Atomic Habits I’ve decided to create a system for success in being the kind of person who publishes books 18 has and audience to tell stories for, and, is a creator of content more frequently than a consumer of content.
The system includes going to bed early so I can be up by 5:30 writing every day. The first two hours of my day go towards the most important part of my values, making progress on my path. The second part is this newsletter. I’ve let the “I need to build a website” be the thing that’s kept me running around in circles at the bottom of the mountain, without ever stepping on the path.
But once I dug into the real reason why I wasn’t getting started (Five Whys) I realized it was a lot of other things that kept me from doing the work and putting my first step on the path. Fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of imperfection… I could go on.
So I made a decision to just start walking up the mountain per say, and figuring out the rest as it happened. My job was to show up and take a couple of steps every day. The two hours of my morning are the time I’m building myself into the person I want to be known for, because I’m actually doing the work. It moves me up the mountain slowly, 1% a day perhaps, but it’s movement and that movement builds over time.
I’m now an object in motion.19
Inertia is the tendency of an object to stay at rest or remain in motion. It takes a great deal of external force to get an object moving. This alone is why many people don’t “do the thing.” It’s a lot of work to get past all of the things I’ve spent several thousand words talking about, to get to this object in motion.
It’s one of the reasons that ideas aren’t really worth much, it’s the execution of ideas that really drive success. You have to create systems of success for yourself to be the person you want to be, not just think about it.
For me, it’s a sacred 9:30 pm in bedtime followed by a 5:15 a.m. wake up for a 5:30-7:30 writing session. For you, it might be an appointment with yourself to work on your business for a set-aside day and time weekly. Or daily. It depends on how many steps you want to take at once. But once your object is in motion it’s a whole lot easier to keep it in motion.
Systems don’t work based on perfection though. If you’re succeeding 80% of the time, that’s still a success! Our brains are quick to give up when we don’t meet the expectations of perfection and then we don’t make progress at all. Like today, for instance, I just wasn’t quite done with this newsletter to send it out last night. I decided to sleep on it and finish it in the morning. My brain wants to tell me to stop- I didn’t send it on Wednesday as I promised, so I should just stop now.
But isn’t sending it late20 better than not sending it at all?
Executive Dysfunction– undiagnosed ADHD in women
As a side note, you may be experiencing Executive Dysfunction, an inability to regulate, control and manage the cognitive processes that help you sort through what is most important and what you should be doing next vs. endlessly scrolling on Facebook. If you have ADHD this is really, really hard and is virtually impossible if you’re unmedicated.
I was diagnosed with ADHD about four years ago. I felt like I was failing at work. I was working all the time, but not making much progress. There were some compounding issues for sure, an emotionally abusive supervisor, my entire team quitting, and a lot of responsibility and expectations dropped on me without any training or support.
I thought I was going to lose my job. If I lost my job, then I wasn’t going to be able to support my family. I read an article on ADHD in girls/women and how it presented differently than it did in boys/men. How girls with ADHD weren’t physically hyperactive, so they didn’t have teachers and parents who were both trying to figure out how to deal with this kid, because this kid was quiet when she was supposed to be quiet and engaged when she needed to be engaged.
I always thought I didn’t have ADHD because I COULD focus when I needed to. I would have a paper due and would avoid it over and over and over again… I was unable to make myself focus and write the thing.21 Then the clock would tick down to three hours to the absolute, drop-dead deadline and I would finally be able to focus on the thing.
In those moments everything else turned off, and nothing existed, except the one thing that needed to exist. In those three or four hours I would type out a 15-page paper and submit it at the last minute, pushing send 30-seconds before the cutoff.
It’s the biggest rush in the world, except for the rush of getting grades that were absolutely not reflective of my work. At least the time spent in front of a blank document. But I did research and trying to force myself into work mode, and just couldn’t succeed at writing the words and committing my ideas to paper until the countdown clock was on.
The external motivation to work on the thing didn’t work. There is some interesting work out there on the power of procrastination in our lives that I also embrace, but the reality was that I was suffering from undiagnosed ADHD manifesting as executive dysfunction. I wasn’t just undisciplined or lazy or unmotivated or any of those other negative associations I had assigned in my head.
My actual ADHD diagnosis was life-changing. It helped me to reframe who I was and curb my negative self-talk. Getting medicated was the key. The more I learn about how the ADHD brain is different from neuro-typical brains, the more I see it as a double-edged sword. It’s simultaneously my greatest weakness and my greatest strength.
It makes me both a really good business owner… and a really bad business owner. But now I have systems and schedules and clients to keep me in check. The medication is an essential part of this, but it’s the only part. If any of this is resonating you might want to consider an evaluation from a psychiatrist.
The efforts I go to in order to keep my brain in check and use my ADHD to my advantage as much as possible warrant an entire article of their own, but the systems for success that I’ve implemented in a bunch of different places in my life are how I have any traction at all.
Step Four: Keep Going
Once you have chosen your mountain, made decisions about which path to take up the mountain, and have started climbing, then it’s just a matter of putting one foot in front of the other, right?
Oh, if only it were so easy.
Traction keeps you moving forward. Distraction stops you from making progress. It’s really, really easy to get distracted by things that are “good” but aren’t moving you forward. Ask yourself, “Is this moving me forward? Or is this a distraction?” I highly recommend Nir Eyal’s book Indistractable for more on this.
I love coffee meetings and lunches with businesspeople and meetups and networking events22 but although I was initially going to these events with the intention of “potentially finding clients” and “building relationships” the time it took to do those things, and actually do work, meant I was sacrificing other parts of my life.23 The “good things” had become distractions.
What do you need to be doing every day to keep moving? What is your plan for the next 30-60-90 days? Build systems to move you forward to the next viewpoint on the mountain. One of those systems is external motivation and support, along with accountability.
Find your people
Working alone is lonely. It’s hard to be motivated to work on your thing when there isn’t anyone to do it with and motivate you to keep moving. The motivation to hustle is easier when you’re hungry and working to put food on the table. But if your gig is a side gig or a passion project it can be easy to get distracted by your goals and not move forward.
Find people who are working towards similar goals and lend motivation and support to each other. I’ve found them in different online groups and forums for work at home moms in my field, moms with ADHD, local business-owner groups and co-working spaces.
My first month of working for myself was lonely and it was hard to stay focused and get the things done. I ended up finding a local co-working space to have human interaction. There were a lot of distractions there, but I met some people who changed my entrepreneurial journey.
As a solopreneur, you can still work with partners to do similarly. Find a buddy to check in with weekly on what you’ve accomplished for the week and what you plan to accomplish moving forward.
If you want to find that person but want someone with more direct help and in making the right decisions and moving in the right direction, this is a good place to start. You’ll get accountability that you’re paying for, and professional advice.
Support Groups and Masterminds
Find an entrepreneur support group/mastermind. Not a networking group where people exchange leads24 but a group where you can get together25 with 5-6 other entrepreneurs and bring issues to the table you’re struggling with. If you aren’t currently involved in your local entrepreneur community, it’s a great place to start. Finding them via Facebook groups, meetup.com is a great place to start.
It’s a lot easier to do brave things when you’ve got people by your side cheering you on. Entrepreneurs are a weird bunch. It’s interesting how differently I see the world and opportunities that are out there the more I hang out with entrepreneurs. It helps to have your people to talk to who are interested in all the nerdy business stuff from an “I need to know all the things because I’m wearing all the hats” perspective as well.
That was a lot of information. I hope there were some helpful pieces and that you feel empowered to build your thing. I believe in you and your ability to make the right choices! You’ve got this!
- Sorry for the run-on sentence»
- the first time»
- this was almost a decade ago»
- this might take more than one breath»
- Hey friends!»
- as my sister Sarah says»
- or a group of people»
- hey friend»
- and I do in the long run»
- Uh, hey fam»
- at least not by them»
- In theory»
- or trade services with»
- For example»
- because you actually are… sorry»
- I highly recommend for business owners and everyone else too.»
- rather than just talking about it»
- yay inertia!»
- measured by the arbitrary deadline I gave myself»
- executive dysfunction»
- okay, I’m a bit of an extrovert»
- Important things like kids and sleep.»
- I hate these- sorry for anyone who loves them»
- IRL or virtually»