Making your own money – and by that I mean, not from a typical 9 to 5, but from something you created and you own – is like a drug. Once you’ve had even the littlest taste of it, you’ll always want it again. Be careful what you wish for when you wish to be your own boss. You might get hooked for life.
I say be careful because it’s not an easy path. It’s a #@$&! scary ride. But… it’s a ride that changes you for the better. You learn to become bigger than yourself, if that makes any sense. You learn to use your strengths and your weaknesses to your advantage. As master of your own work domain, you have to know yourself well and still continually try to outsmart yourself, to outdo your last move. That’s innovation. That’s growth. That’s ultimately sustainability. Because if you’re always thinking about where you’ll get your next entrepreneurial fix; if you’re constantly asking yourself, ‘what next?’ you’ll have an answer when someone else comes asking the same thing of you.
In business, that ‘someone else’ is your customers, your employees, your partners, your teachers and mentors. When those people come asking, ‘what next?’ you’d better have an answer. If you don’t, you’ll be cheating yourself and them. Or worse…. you’ll become stagnant, and ultimately irrelevant.
“What next?” is a question that I’ve been continually pondering for the last few months. I’ve been an independent freelancer for almost a year now, and have had plenty of ups and downs, direction changes and lots of opportunities to test different approaches in marketing, selling and delivering my services. I finally feel like I’ve reached a level of comfort with the ambiguity and the sometimes unpredictable nature of self-employment, and I’m preparing to kick off some new projects and partnerships that will continue to propel me down paths I want to travel. I recently shared one of those projects with you, and I’m looking forward to sharing the others as they progress.
In the meantime, I’d like to pass along some highlights from a blog post entitled ‘How to Overcome Stagnation’ by Dean L. Forbes. Work – whether done for yourself or for someone else – is one of those areas that it’s extremely easy to become stagnant in, and Dean has provided some excellent insights for recognizing the symptoms of stagnation and developing strategies to deal with it.
Symptoms of Stagnation:
- Lack of focus – feeling scattered and unsure of the goals you’ve set
- Indecisiveness – unable to make a decision because every option is too risky and/or impossible
- Doubt – feelings of self-doubt, lack of confidence in your skills and abilities
- Hopelessness – inability to see the silver lining, the upside, the light at the end of the tunnel
- Cynicism –feeling like the cards are stacked against you, that everyone (especially the ones who ‘don’t deserve it’) is getting ahead except you
- Depression – lack of energy or will to do anything positive, productive, or progressive
Like any emotional or mental state, stagnation is temporary. The amount of time spent in a state of stagnation depends on your willingness to take the right actions to move beyond that state. Forbes recommends the following right actions to overcome stagnation.
5 Ways to Overcome Stagnation:
- Re-evaluate your core values – Make sure that the principles you wish to live by – your own personal definition of ‘the good life’ – are intact. Make a list of the things in life that really matter to you and be sure that your daily activities and decisions reflect that.
- Redefine your mission – What is your purpose? What are you here for? What do you feel that you were uniquely created to do? You may already have an idea in your head. Take some time to reflect on and re-envision this mission.
- Change your mission – Does the mission you previously envisioned for yourself no longer make sense? Maybe it’s time to find a new mission.
- Change your circle – If you’re on a journey to somewhere, your travelling companions can make or break the trip for you. It can be difficult to change or sever associations, but if you find out that people in your circle aren’t interested in going where you’re headed, you’ll all be much better off going your separate ways.
- Take a different route – There’s more than one way to reach a given goal. Maybe the path you’re on isn’t the one that’s going to work for you. There’s no shame in changing directions or scrapping what you thought was a well-planned route. What matters is that you keep moving towards your ultimate destination.
If you’re looking for more help dealing with stagnation, here are a few of my favorite stagnation-killing books:
photo by: Crystl