We've all been there: The deadline is staring us down from the calendar that sits right above our desk. Suddenly, it seems as if the walls are closing in while we contemplate all that has to be accomplished in order to hit our goal.
And instead of doing what need to do to get our tasks underway we find ourselves scrolling through social media, doing a deep clean of our *entire* house and/or starting a new TV series.
I know you know what I’m talking about.
This is the classic moment when we find ourselves so overwhelmed by the amount of work to be done and the sheer volume of creativity and focus needed to finish the task at hand...it feels easier to do nothing.
When I became an entrepreneur, my relationship with big projects became a lot more complex than it was in the confines of a corporate office environment. In my old job, I had all of the resources and collaborative colleagues just a few feet down the hallway.
Suddenly, I was the inspiration, the creator, the strategist, the designer, and the one to make it happen - all in one. Not to mention; a new mom and a wife with responsibilities and passions outside of her career.
Becoming an entrepreneur has required me to tap in to new strengths and skills in order to accomplish my big goals (and actualize my even bigger vision.)
The good news, for you, is that you don’t have to make the same mistakes that I did. You don’t have to learn the hard way if you’re open and willing to learn from someone else.
I’ve been taking notes along the way...
Here are my top 5 tips for staying energized for big projects.
1. Remember why you started in the first place.
Ever heard that motivation isn’t actually what is required of you to reach your dreams. Why? Because motivation is never there when you need it. What is required, however, is consistent action and alignment. And therein lies the problem: how do we keep taking action even when we don’t feel like it?
I urge you to get deeply connected with your “why.”
This needs to be an answer that moves you, even to tears, when you tap into it.
For me, my “why” is to be a parent who is present for her family. I want and choose to have the freedom to live my dreams helping women live out their passions and being present for their own families, while simultaneously living out my own.
So when I start to feel overwhelmed, I make it a practice to sit down and remember my “why.” To connect to it, embrace it, and use it to charge me up and motivate me to take that next step forward.
Exercise: Sit down and write out your “why.” Invoke all of the feels, use some pictures, even find a “soundtrack” song that when you listen to it gets you into the feeling. Anytime you’re stuck, open that journal page up and hit “Play” while you look at it and reconnect to your purpose.
2. Enlist the help of others who are better than you.
This one can be difficult. I know how much our businesses mean to us- they are our babies. So we put our heads down and power through with ALL of the tasks, all by ourselves. We do everything; the emails, the sales calls, the social media, the content creation...
But here’s the thing, friends. We can do ANYTHING...but we can’t do everything.
Chances are, you have a specific area of genius; and while you have other things that you are great at, there are people out there who are more knowledgeable about those things than you. These are people who could help not only take the load off, but also take your business to the next level.
Let me just let you off the hook and give you some permission:
It is okay to ask for help.
Let that land for a moment.
I have brought on a team of rockstars who compliment my area of genius with their own. While I still have a vital role in ALL of the things they are doing; I have shared the mission and the tasks at hand, it is no longer my sole responsibility. This has freed me up to be more creative and available for the parts of my business where I am absolutely necessary...which also means; my business gets to grow.
Exercise: Write a list of 3 or 4 tasks that you are totally white knuckling it alone with. Ask yourself 3 questions: 1. Is this my area of genius? 2. Is there someone who could do this better? 3. Is the value I am saving in dollars worth the value I am costing my business by NOT hiring them?
3. Schedule in strategic thinking time, AKA big picture processing meetings with yourself.
The busier you get, the more likely you will be to forget to consult with the person who got you here.
Yes, that’s right- I am talking about you.
It is important to remember that it was your vision and your creativity that got you on your journey to becoming an entrepreneur in the first place, but it is also important to hit “Refresh” on that vision from time to time.
The more you accomplish, the more you will see what is possible. New doors will open and new solutions to problems will become clear. So, by spending time identifying and clarifying what your new “next level” is, you can then strategize and create a roadmap to arriving there.
In the entrepreneur world we have a saying, (you’ve probably heard it) “If it isn’t on the calendar, it doesn’t exist.” Penciling in that time will allow you to show up for yourself and create the space needed to see the bigger picture a bit more clearly.
Exercise: Get your first meeting on the planner for this week! Snag the table seat at your favorite coffee shop and spend some quality time with your inner CEO in total creative bliss.
4. Set benchmarks along the way.
This one always speaks to me, because, frankly, it feels good to celebrate accomplishments!
Benchmarks are our own way of saying “You’re rocking it sister!” or “Atta’ boy!” to ourselves. Instead of just having a start and a finish line (with a LOT of work between the two), you create points along the way (and *bonus*- you get to throw yourself a little dance party each time you reach one!)
But this one is also a two-for. By creating these progress points, you can also design a timeline for yourself of when to achieve each milestone by. Now you have an idea of how long ideally you can spend on each goal before reaching it and moving onto the next.
This, solopreneurs, is how we sidestep procrastination.
Exercise: Take your project and split it up. These are your benchmarks. At each benchmark, write out one way you will celebrate the accomplishment when it is achieved. Have fun with this- a little boost can go a long way.
5. Take epic care of yourself.
Always the last on the list and the first to be neglected, but this truly is essential to becoming the curator and operator of a thriving and inspired business.
Taking care of ourselves is a vital part in achieving our goals and finishing our projects.
What does that mean? We can do it through meditation, movement, and good nutrition. We can keep our thoughts clear and our energy high by feeding our whole beings in a way that serves us and keeps us healthy.
But, I also learned a valuable lesson back in my days as a Division I athlete that has informed the way I take on projects today. Sometimes it’s not what you do- it’s what you DON’T do.
I learned that recovery is just as, if not more, important than the work.
While getting the work done and getting into the flow is what will get the project accomplished, if you aren’t sleeping, taking breaks, and allowing your mind and body to rest- your project could suffer in the process.
Our energy is everything and the lifeblood of your business and career.
Exercise: Write down a daily self-care practice and stick to it for 1 week. Make it your own, but no matter what it includes- do something that allows you to feel inspired, restored and ready to take on whatever the day has in store. Check in at the end of the week and see how you feel.
Bonus: Take notes as you go.
Notice how you feel, notice what progress you're making and notice where you’re stalling. Track it every single day and reflect on it when the project wraps in order to make improvements in the future.
By looking at the strengths and weaknesses of our process this time, we can really dig in and tighten up our strategy for next time, in a way that feels right for us. This feedback also allows us to create epic content that moves others and takes our vision to that next level.
These are my 5 ways for staying energized for big projects. I invite you to be open to what they have to offer you and to take some hustle out of your flow. I can’t promise you that you won’t feel overwhelmed or unmotivated, but I can promise you that with tools like these in place, you will continue to take inspired action to get that epic creation you’ve got in the works out there.
The world is waiting for that masterpiece. What better moment to get back to bringing it to life, than now?