“When you come to a fork in the road - take it.”
- Yogi Berra
Do you ever feel like you hate absolutely everything and everyone involved with your business? Do you wonder why you even show up in the morning? Do you fantasize about pitching it all and running away to Costa Rica? Do you doubt your ability to make the business a success, to make it work?
On a day of doubt, give it one more day.
It’s OK to give up on your business. If you are not succeeding, you may not have yet found your true calling. Or, you may not have given it enough time. Or taken the right steps. How do you know?
Pray for a sign. Why not? You might get one. Or, you might realize the signs have been there all along. You’ve just not seen them. Is it too much to ask for a bolt of lightning?
Today, on a day of doubt … play “hookie.” Punch out for a few hours. Do something completely different.
• Read - fiction only today.
• Walk until you get physically tired. Walk for hours.
• Don’t speak out loud for the rest of the afternoon.
• Visit a cool music store and listen to unfamiliar artists.
• Draw something.
• Play chess by yourself.
• Watch people.
Do something that you don’t usually do to unwind. If you usually work out, skip the workout and take a nap instead. And let it go at that for today. Act on it tomorrow.
You aren’t quitting today. Give it one more day. The day you walk away from your business will be on a day of certainty, not on a day of doubt.
On the Day After a Day of Doubt ...Head to the office. Close your door. Or, lock yourself in your car (without the engine running). Today, you are going to think. Reflect on all that you have created. So often we neglect to acknowledge and enjoy our victories because so many battles lie ahead. Today, take a moment to congratulate yourself on your accomplishments.
Consider these questions:
• Since the beginning of the year, what has changed … in yourself, in your business?
• What have you accomplished?
• Do you have a purpose in your business, a mission? Is your business consistent with that mission?
• Is your business supporting your values?
• Are you making more money?
• Are you making enough money?
• Are you reaching your goals?
• Are you having fun?
• Are you making a positive difference in people’s lives?
• Are your relationships strong and healthy?
• Are you fit and strong…physically and spiritually?
• If you could shut down your business with a snap of your fingers, would you?
Profitability can make the difference between a business that serves your life and a business that doesn’t. Money is terrific, but it is not the only measure of success. Does your business serve your life?
Place a blank sheet of paper on your desk. On the left side, put a minus sign on the top; on the right side, place a plus sign. Now, list the negatives and positives of your business. This is the classic Ben Franklin method of decision making. See if the plusses outweigh the minuses.
Should the business stay in your life, or should it go?
My friend Paul Swan is a contractor in Ohio. He adds another element to the decision-making process: “test drive” the answers in your mind. Pretend you snapped your fingers and made the business go away. How does it feel? Perhaps, according to the Ben Franklin test, the minuses outweigh the plusses. If you find yourself feeling deeply disappointed with the logical answer, consider how you can change the minuses into plusses.
Should you keep working your business plan, or change your direction - and your business? Essentially, it’s a spiritual dilemma. You are exchanging a good portion of your life for your business. It has to serve you and it has to serve others. Search your heart. Meditate. Pray. Ask God for peace and guidance.
Many years ago, a friend of mine successfully climbed a 24,000 foot mountain peak. Afterwards he said something that stuck with me. He mentioned that not everyone made it to the top. One of the members of his party struggled with altitude sickness and had to turn around less than 1,000 feet from the summit.
“He must have been hurting pretty bad,” I commented.
“Well,” my friend responded, “it had better be pretty bad before you turn around. Because once you turn back, the pain goes away. Then you forget how bad it was. And you start to wonder, ‘Could I have made it?’”
Now, you may choose to take a different route. Or change your pace, or your climbing partners. Or you might try again after you repair some equipment. But if the summit represents your mission, if you are clear on what you want, don’t give up. Just keep applying the basics. Improve your knowledge and skills in each area of your business. Make decisions and take action. And press on.
And if you choose another path?
Here is a story from a wonderful book called Mastery, by George Leonard:
“When Jigoro Kano, the founder of Judo, was quite old and close to death, the story goes, he called his students around him and told them he wanted to be buried in his white belt. What a touching story; how humble of the world’s highest-ranking judoist in his last days to ask for the emblem of the beginner! But Kano’s request, I eventually realized, was less humility than realism. At the moment of death, the ultimate transformation, we are all white belts. And if death makes beginners of us, so does life - again and again.”
Did you choose another path? Congratulations! Life is full of options, and I look forward to hearing about your new adventures. Take some time to craft a plan. (Don’t take too much time.) And don’t worry about putting a bulletproof plan together. Set your sight on the horizon and get going. (If you need help with the plan, check out www.barebonesbiz.com.)
Did you choose to pursue the path you are on? Good for you! Now, pull out your calendar. Set a date, somewhere in the future. On that date, you may reconsider your decision. In the meantime, do not question it. Just go, go, go. Approach your business with fresh eyes. Get really clear on what you really want. Put a plan together - a plan keeps you focused and allows you to keep your ideas in written form in one place. That is so much nicer than trying to remember things. Work the plan. Address your dysfunctional relationships. Handle them. Or, disconnect from them. If that means letting someone go, let him go. Make sure that between now and the date you just wrote on your calendar, you leave everything you have in you on the playing field. Don’t hold back. Give it all you’ve got. Because when that date arrives, you may choose to end this pursuit and select another path. Once you change direction, the pain will go away. You will be able to walk away with your head held high if you are comfortable that you did everything you could to make it work.
Life is too short to spend it doing something you hate with people who suck the life out of you. Life is long enough to have several businesses, careers and adventures.
Don’t change direction on a day of doubt. Wait a day. Then decide.