Last night I couldn’t sleep. I found myself reaching for my phone in the middle of the night, desperately hoping to find a response to the emails I spent all afternoon yesterday sending.
Once the night turned into day, I thought it would be better. “Surely people are reading emails now”, I told myself. I kept refreshing my inbox willing the sound of a new message. I felt like I was in a scene from that romantic comedy from the 90s, “You’ve Got Mail”. There must be someone out waiting for my contact.
Does this scenario sound familiar?
is anybody out there?
Sometimes I can’t help but notice the statistics: how many people follow me on Twitter, how many comments do I receive on my blog posts, how many times something is shared, how many people “like” what I have to say, how many people will be coming along to my next community meetup, how many…..???
How ridiculous is this?
Why do I search for external validation from anyone to measure my progress? Why do I doubt my skills and my abilities? Why can’t I be more patient?
Here’s why I find it so difficult and some ways I’ve started to go a bit easier on myself.
1. we link our achievement with our identity
There’s a very thin line between healthy retrospect (“What am I doing wrong?”) and self-doubt (“What’s wrong with me?”). Self-esteem can quickly deteriorate which causes us to seize up, not take any action, and stay stuck.
It’s easy to say that we shouldn’t care about external validations, but the reality is that it can be tough sometimes to ignore them. We want to be liked and accepted. We want people to notice us. And when running a business, we want and need people to pay us for our products and services in order to survive.
My tip: Try to take the emotion out of it. Rather than just look at the end result, look at the process. What is working well? When you take x action, does it produce y result?
It could be possible that some adjustments need to be made to get the results that you desire, but recognise that a glitch in your strategy is absolutely not a glitch in you!
2. we set high expectations for ourselves
If we want to run workshops for 20 people and only 5 people show up, it can feel disappointing. There’s a huge gap between the goal and the reality and we start to wonder if we’ll ever get where we want to be.
We don’t feel safe – financially or emotionally. We start to question our decisions. We wonder if we have to compromise on our values in order to find paying clients. Is what we’re offering really needed or have we misread the signs?
If, like me, you set high expectations for yourself it can be a difficult pill to swallow when it takes longer than anticipated or you have to make changes to your business model. It can be hard to let go of an idea that you’ve been holding on to and building upon for so long.
My tip: Try to look for the signs of where it is working. I take 5-10 minutes at the end of each day to note down everything that has gone well, even if it seems small. Then on the days when I feel that the world is against me, I look over the list and remind myself of how far I’ve already come.
3. it’s embarrassing
When we run a business, our perceived successes and failures are out there for anyone to see. We tell our partners, friends, family and former colleagues of our grand plans. When things don’t quite go to these plan, we can feel as though others are judging us or that we’re letting people down.
Yet, we have control over what we share publicly.
My tip: Remove the anxiety as much as possible by looking at other strategies, but also remember that nobody is watching as closely as you are! You’re massively important in your own world; you could be tiny in theirs. Be comforted by the fact that they aren’t scrutinising your every move nearly as much as you might think!
over to you
Are you familiar with the “no one’s responding” dread? What has helped you? Leave a comment below and let us learn from your tips. I’d also love to hear about other topics that you’d love to read about.