Accept that change is going to happen
Change, however difficult, is a part of life. I have children in their 20s. I watched their journey from helpless to walking, starting school, driving, graduating, dating, starting businesses, and more. Each new step — even when it felt like a loss to me — was a move toward their independence and fulfilling their life’s purpose.
To be successful, we need to recognize and embrace change in all areas of our lives — including our business.
Let go of old ideas and beliefs
Life is about change. To move forward, we must let go of ideas and beliefs related to:
- Health. You may be limited by physical or mental illnesses that are the result of genetics, lifestyle, injuries or aging.
- Security. You may have to re-evaluate your security due to money, personal finances, or living situation.
- People. The people around you may change as you get older. Children grow up, parents pass away, marriages end, and relationships change. You may also experience losses related to pregnancy, pets, and people passing away.
- Identity. Your identity as a business owner may evolve as your business changes. In addition, your roles as a mother, daughter, sibling, grandmother and other family roles will change as you age.
- Personal beliefs. Sometimes losses in personal beliefs are among the most difficult. You may re-evaluate your faith in God; recognize that people can disappoint you; or realize that the government will take care of you.
- Independence. Not being able to drive following knee surgery made a huge difference in my level of independence. Being house-bound or unable to live alone are big losses.
- Safety. Identity theft; scam telephone calls telling you that you owe the IRS money; and cyber bullying are all ways that we feel unsafe without leaving the house. You may experience feeling unsafe following a physical incident or car wreck.
- Business issues. You may feel a loss because you have a difficult client, are struggling with technology, or business is not where you expected it would be.
How to cope with change
Letting go is all about perspective. One mother may be utterly depressed that her child is leaving for college, as she feels that her role as a parent is over and the best days of life have passed. Another mother may be excited to see her child pursue their education, as she looks forward to a less frantic lifestyle with time to work out and make art.
Similarly, dealing with change in your business is also about having a positive perspective.
5 ways to deal with change in your business
- Don’t compare yourself to other people’s experience and timetable. I learned this lesson (again) as I was recovering from knee surgery. Another patient at physical therapy had his knee replaced the day after mine. He was miles ahead of me in therapy – including walking without a cane while I was still using a walker. I felt like a failure, despite knowing that people heal at different rates and have different personalities. (It was interesting to learn that, several weeks later, he’d experienced a major setback and I was farther along in the recovery process than he was.)
- Be nice to yourself. Self-compassion is essential. We all do our absolute best at any given time. Hindsight is wonderful and we want to believe that we can control the world. Whether or not you could have prevented the loss, the truth is you are here now. You can beat yourself up or be nice to yourself. Choose to be nice.
- Recognize that life isn’t always fair. Growing up in a family with four children, we were obsessed with things being fair. On Saturdays my dad would go to the bakery and buy a dozen donuts. There were two for each person. That was fair and the donut division rules made sense. But life doesn’t always work that way. It’s disheartening when you can’t get pregnant, yet your neighbor is neglecting their five children. Or you get cancer at age 40, even though you don’t drink or smoke, while your nasty uncle (who hasn’t been sober since turned 18) lives to be 93. Expecting life to be fair makes our loss worse.
- Seek support to deal with your loss. It’s okay to say, “I need help.” One of the easiest places to turn is online support groups (such as Facebook). There are groups for every form of life event, business concerns, or health condition. You can also look for local support groups through a mental health association or religious institution. In addition, groups like the Serene Solopreneur are available to provide education and support for entrepreneurs.
- Be open to positive outcomes. If you look hard and wait long enough, you will see that even the darkest clouds have a silver lining. Letting go of losses make us wiser, stronger, and more compassionate people. This can be the impetus for growth and change. Although my knee replacement experience was pretty traumatic, it has shown me the importance of taking care of my body. For the first time in many years, I have joined a local pool and am making exercise a priority.
More blog posts about dealing with change in your business
- How do you deal with stress as an entrepreneur?
- Feeling overwhelmed about your business?
- Resources to learn entrepreneur skills