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In a mental rut with your business? Let’s sort that out right now …

Learn to recognise when your negative thoughts are holding you in a mental rut and instead move forwards with success

Vicky Stanton worked in both the private and public sectors in HR finishing her corporate career in the police service after many years. Knowing full well that HR were mostly called in to deal with the negative issues when they arise she wanted instead to empower people within their roles as business leaders and unblock the issues that she’d been privy to over the years. By asking the right questions she helps business owners become unstuck from the problems that bind them and instead move forwards confidently. If you’ve been feeling overwhelmed recently read on, one of these golden nuggets of advice might just be your meal ticket to getting going again …

Why do we get stuck or in a mental rut with our businesses?

One of the biggest reasons is fear: it’s the fear of change, the fear of failure or even the fear of success that can build up negative thoughts in our minds.

But people started up their businesses wanting to be successful – why does that fear hold them back?

Often when I start talking to clients it seems to be the fear of change more than the success; who will I be, will my friends treat me differently, do I need to change personally to accompany the success? Can I maintain the success? Will I be judged if I can’t?

Fear of failure is a big one, yet of course you can’t succeed if you don’t try, so by not taking any action you’re failing by default …

Yes absolutely. Fear of failure is paralysing and the amount of pressure we put on ourselves to succeed doesn’t help in the slightest. This notion of ‘one shot at success’ can prevent someone from leaping yet in actual fact you can keep re-trying. Often it can be linked to a confidence issue that may stem from a much earlier life incident. Someone repeatedly calling you ‘stupid’ when you were younger may harbour your initiative now. This kind of negative self talk can be so detrimental to your success. It’s vitally important to recognise it and talk to yourself like you are your best friend.

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So how do we begin to see the warning signs that we might be stuck in a business confidence rut?

I think there’s eight quick fire signs of being stuck – let’s see if any of these sound familiar:

  • Putting off a task? You don’t physically know how to do the task at hand – training or delegation is called for but it’s an effort that you want to delay for time or cost reasons, so you let it slide …
  • Procrastination – suddenly it’s vital that the laundry is done or the kitchen cleaned or you’ll just get started after you’ve made a cuppa.
  • Control – perhaps you’re in a situation where you’re trying to control something or someone that is uncontrollable and it’s making you feel frustrated and anxious.
  • Instinct – perhaps you’re blocking a task or moving forwards because it just ‘doesn’t feel right’. This might be the right course of action but you don’t know what to do next.
  • You’re confused without a clear, defined plan.
  • Every business owner struggles with overwhelm at some point. Client stress, work demands, to-do lists, health and exercise, family obligations – having to often be more than one person on a team … the list is seemingly endless and the priorities all seem to bear down on us. making us feel completely and utterly powerless and stuck. This also leads onto the next aspect that can make us feel stuck …
  • Perfectionism. Insanely debilitating, the feeling of ‘it’s never quite good enough’ harbours so many tasks from ever feeling 100% completed.
  • Oddly the final aspect of being stuck is seemingly the opposite of all of the above – laziness. We’re wired to chill. Great, but success comes from taking action, so its really important to find the time to really relax as well as the time to work.
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So what can our readers action immediately to start ‘unsticking’ themselves and moving forwards with an element of calm and decisive action again?

I’d encourage everyone to revamp and refresh their plans. It’s been proven that our brains sees the benefits and value of actions for longer term benefits so the more you can plot, plan and visualise the future six months, year, five years the better and more focused you’ll feel.

  • We need a plan of action when it comes to business. You’d never start driving in your car without knowing where you were going to or at least having a SatNav on hand and it’s the same in business. Taking time to plan and route your way to market can give you certainty and a level of focus that keep you on track even when things seem out of control.
  • Have and use lists. Know what your one key action for the day is and list the other two or three afterwards. Even if you only manage one thing a day make sure it’s the most important one that will push you forwards. Setting task lists and goals will help to overcome the notion of perfectionism by keeping your time management for the completion of tasks dialled. Collaborating with someone who can honestly critique your work and tell you when it’s fantastic, will help build your confidence to know when to stop and be proud.
  • When you hear yourself saying ‘I haven’t got the time’ or ‘I can’t do this’, ask yourself: ‘is it true’? Challenge your own thoughts and you’ll reprioritise your day.
  • Trust your instincts – often in business we feel as though we have to do it because it’s our business and we should. However if it’s really not feeling right for you then just … don’t! Delegate the task or trust your gut instincts and think of another way round the problem.
  • Complete control is unrealistic. Accept this. It’s essential that you learn to park any controlling kind of thoughts – Covid 19 has been the perfect example of this – so much has been out of our hands and we have literally only been able to focus and control on what we’re able to within our realm. Yet people have adapted and made some extraordinary things happen. Instead of worrying about control ask yourself what does this change make possible for me and what can I action to ensure it has a positive result.
  • Start journaling.Writing regulates our emotions so get any worry, stress or concerns or possible plans and dreams out onto paper. From that moment on they’re not weighing you down any more so you can be free to rid yourself of them or action them if you need to. It’s a totally safe space to access your own wisdom.
  • My final tip is to always plan tomorrow before today is finished. Before you close down for the day, write your list of your key actions for the next day. This way you know exactly what your first action is as you ‘arrive’ at work. No more faffing – just action.
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Cherry Martin

Cherry Martin

Cherry is Associate Editor of Business Matters with responsibility for planning and writing future features, interviews and more in-depth pieces for what is now the UK’s largest print and online source of current business news.