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Podcast notes:

If you’re feeling the January blues right now more than ever before, don’t worry, we’ve been through a heck of a couple of years…you may just be feeling exhausted. If that’s the case, learn to recognise that and take a break.

Don’t feel exhausted? But still feel stuck? It may be down to overwhelm.

To prevent getting overwhelmed by big projects chunk them down into tiny actions (tasks of no more than half an hour) and schedule them in.

You should also join a supportive community that lifts you up.  Make sure it’s a supportive community that helps you feel great and as if you could take on the world – not one that keeps you playing small, or sitting ‘in the comfy chair’. You’re always welcome to join my Accountability Club. A supportive community of business owners who are in your corner and want to help you stay on track. You can find out more here.

Also, research the different tools you can use to help keep you positive – things like your favourite music, scented candles, motivational quotes on the wall.

Above all else, remember that only you can truly know how you feel.  Learn how to tap into that and honour it, as you are the only you there is. And if you’re the only person running your business, that becomes even more important.  

Take time out if you need to and treat yourself with care.

Find out more about wellness tools: Ali Swift and ‘My wellness toolbox’

Podcast transcript:

It’s okay. You’re not behind. You’re not late. If you’ve struggled to really get into things in 2022, then don’t worry about it. I decided to record this podcast episode because the feeling I was getting from talking to my community, from engaging on Instagram, from just kind of being around people, was just of tiredness of everyone really struggling right now. 

And I think it’s really, really easy to forget how tough the last two years have been. 

Everyone knows they’ve been tough, but now there’s a bit of a light at the end of the tunnel I think that a lot of people are putting a lot of pressure on themselves. 

We wrote off 2020. In the end, we had to write off 2021. People had such high hopes for 2022. I think that they were putting all their hopes on it. 

And when things haven’t started quite the way they wanted, maybe they struggled to get into things at the start of 2022. People are feeling really demoralised. People are exhausted. 

I mean, the last two years have been exhausting. People are tired. You’re probably tired. We haven’t had the downtime, we’ve had constant juggling. We’ve had to be so, so resilient. And it’s been really hard, really draining and really tiring. 

So, in this episode I’m going to look at the different things you can do if you are struggling and feeling behind right now:

  1. Recognise if you need a break
  2. Are you overwhelmed?
  3. Do you need to feel supported by a community?
  4. Put your well-being tools in place

Do you need a break?

Maybe you just need a break. That doesn’t mean you failed. It doesn’t mean that you’ll never go on to succeed. It means you need a break. And if you need a break, that’s the best thing that you can do. Because by not taking a break, you are denying yourself the chance for success later on. If you want to succeed, you need energy for that. 

By just running on empty, you will just head to burnout and you won’t get to where you want to go. So the best thing to do is really be aware of how you’re feeling. 

Are you feeling exhausted? Maybe drained? Are you feeling fatigued? If so, take a break. Please take a break. Be okay with doing nothing. 

If you’re a solopreneur, and you work on your own, then it’s really easy to get into that habit of thinking you can’t take a break. But here’s the thing. If everything does rely on you and then you burnout, then you won’t be able to do anything. So get really self-aware. I think when you’re a business owner, it’s even more important that you are as self-aware as you can be and just find out how you feel. 

Are you exhausted? Are you just fed up? If so, New Year is not the be-all and end-all. It just so happens that that’s when a lot of people tend to set their goals, but you can set them any time. So if you feel like you need a break, then do that. Do nothing scheduling, a week of doing nothing scheduling, doing nothing time. Make it a thing and make sure you do nothing. 

And when I say do nothing, I don’t necessarily mean do nothing, but do something that lights you up. Don’t feel that you have to work on your business if you don’t want to. And don’t feel like you have to do a huge launch if you don’t want to. Don’t feel that you have to create a new product. 

Just be in tune to the way you feel and make sure that if you’re feeling really tired and just exhausted, then take a break. It’s so important. 

Are you overwhelmed?

But maybe you didn’t get started and maybe you’re not exhausted, maybe it’s something else, maybe it’s overwhelm. And overwhelm is a really common thing to happen when you’re at the start of the new year too. 

Because there are all these expectations. All these expectations that we’re going to do amazing things this year. It’s going to be the best year ever. We’re going to get this plan in place, we’re going to do this, we’re going to do that.

And before we know it, we go slightly off track. Maybe we don’t quite post our Instagram posts at the right time. Maybe we miss a deadline that we set ourselves and all of a sudden that balloons into this kind of feeling of totally going out of control and it just becomes too much. 

So if it is overwhelming, then take a step back. Just understand that that’s normal. There are so many expectations. It’s such a high-pressure time to get going on your goals. But it doesn’t matter. You don’t have to start your goals in January. Or at the beginning of the year. You can start anytime you want to, as long as you set a date that you’re going to do it and you go for it and you are and you stick to it. That’s the most important thing. 

Reset your goals at any time

If you’ve failed so far to get into things at the start of the year, you have my permission now to set a date when you’re going to restart and just go for that and just try and stick to it if you can. I mean, you can only reset your goals so many times, but just really be aware that January is not the be all, and end all. 

And when you do come to reset those goals, create a plan so you don’t get overwhelmed. So what I like to do is create a plan which has got big goals at the end of it. And actually, if you think about the big goals, that can be quite overwhelming. 

But break it down into tiny little action steps that take half an hour and schedule those into a planner. Now I use a planning system called my Creative’s Productivity Toolkit, which you can find on my website here.

That really helps break down tasks that are really overwhelming, big, overwhelming goals and just breaks them down into manageable chunks. And every time you complete a jump that makes you feel good, rather than feeling overwhelmed that you’ve failed, you feel good, and that spurs you on. 

And you also know if you’ve created a plan that all those little goals are going to get you there, get you to where you want to be at the end. So if you are overwhelmed, don’t get hung up about the fact it’s New Year. Don’t get hung up about the fact that you may be behind. Just create a plan and start wherever you feel ready. That’s totally fine. 

Find a community

Now, obviously, any kind of big goals we’re trying to achieve can be quite overwhelming just because we’ve not done them before. If they’re big goals, they’re going to be things we haven’t done before. And the best thing that you can do in cases like that is to find a community. Communities are so powerful. And what do I mean by community? Well, that can be anything really. So anywhere where there are people who are going to spur you on to success, it could be a local group of people, it could be a local group of similar businesses, but it could just be a group of people that think in the same way as you. 

It doesn’t necessarily have to be business owners. It could be maybe people from your yoga class, if you’re particularly in tune with them. Maybe it’s your friends. It could be a Facebook group that you feel in tune with. It doesn’t really matter what the community is or how they work. They just need to be in tune with the same kind of vibe as you and light you up and make you feel good. So have a think about who that might be and where you might be able to find a great community that’s going to take you forward.

Who’s in your community?

Community can be so powerful because people will lift you up in a way that you can’t yourself. And I’ve found it recently when I’ve joined an online community and I found it so useful. I’ve also got an accountability partner that I’ve started setting up regular meetups with, and I absolutely love it. It keeps me on track. 

But it also makes me feel that there’s someone in my corner, you know, someone rooting for me, someone that believes in me and wants success for me. And I do the same for her too. So accountability partners are great. Any kind of online memberships are great. Any kind of just a Facebook group. There are so many free Facebook groups out there. And you’re always welcome to join my Accountability Club. A supportive community of business owners who are in your corner and want to help you stay on track. You can find out more here.

But the one thing you really do need to make sure of is that those community groups, whatever form they take, that they empower you. This is really important because it’s so easy, particularly when we’re feeling vulnerable, to attach ourselves to people that are going to keep us playing small, because when we’ve got those big goals, going for them is really scary. It’s way out of our comfort zone. 

Are you playing small with the people you surround yourselves with?

What we almost instinctively do is attach ourselves to the people that keep us playing small because that’s safe, that’s comfortable. That feels like a great place to be. But that’s not a place that’s going to help you grow. It’s not a place that’s going to help you reach your goal. 

So, make sure it’s a community that makes you feel like you want to succeed and not one that keeps you playing small or reinforces the fears that you have. Now. I recently heard Jake Humphrey, the sports presenter, talking on a podcast, and he says he has a sign in his workroom that says, “Don’t sit in the comfy chair”. “Never sit in the comfy chair”. And apparently this is something that someone told him very early in his career and he’s tried to stick by. And it’s just so true because it’s so easy to get comfy. We kind of always gravitate towards it. So you have to watch yourself. And I’m the same!

When something gets comfortable I think, “I’ll stay here for a little bit.” But if you want to keep growing and keep going for those big goals, then you can’t sit in the comfy chair for too long. You’ve got to kind of push yourself.

So take a message from Jake’s book, don’t sit in the comfy chair and join groups that empower you, that make you feel good, that don’t keep you paying small, and don’t play into those fears that you already have. 

Get some well-being tools

And if you’ve got your plan in place and you’ve got your community in place, the other thing that you can do to really help you stop feeling overwhelmed is get some well-being tools. Now, this really kind of hinges on you knowing yourself again, knowing yourself really well and knowing what’s going to help you. 

But there are so many different things you can try and you just need to try different things and see what works for you. Now, the person who introduced this concept to me was a person called Ali Swift, who actually we met at a baby sensory class a couple of years ago, more than a couple of years ago. And she’s now gone on to write two books about well-being tools called My Wellness Toolbox, so you can look her up. Her books are all about the fact that she went through a really difficult time and sometimes has challenges with her mental health. And the thing that helps her is having a toolbox of virtual tools that help her daily. 

So she’s learned to recognise that when she feels low when she needs some support or when she feels down, she can turn to these different tools and they help her and they help her get through these challenging times. Just really simple things that we can all do.

What type of music helps you feel good about yourself?

Is there a particular type of music that you enjoy listening to? 

It sounds weird, but I found that if I listen to jazz, it really makes me productive. And I think that’s probably because it chills me out and I don’t feel overwhelmed when I’m trying to do my tasks and I just keep going and keep on going. And I can be productive for quite a long time, if I listen to jazz.

I know that if I want to feel a bit of energy and I feel it a bit because I’ve been sitting at my desk all day and a bit slumped, I can listen to some really upbeat kind of cheesy dance music. And I get up and I have a dance around my room looking like a fool. But who cares? Because no one can see me and it gets my energy pumping and it’s a really good thing to do as well. If you need to get ideas, or to do a brainstorm and you want to get loads of ideas, just jump up and do a dance around your favourite tune and you will feel so much better. 

But there are so many other tools as well that we can use besides music. There are things like essential oils or candles. I light a candle regularly in my room at the moment. I’ve got hot chocolate and mint one, which smells amazing. So every time I come into my room, it smells really kind of comforting and warm and it makes me feel like I want to be here on my desk. So, yeah, all those kinds of tools. 

What makes you feel good?

But there are also things like having quotes on the wall around you, which I also have. There’s meditation, yoga, there are visualisation meditations, there’s having creative time in the morning. I’ve heard of people that before they start work every day, they do something creative where they can just let loose. So maybe if you’re an illustrator, you would just draw for 20 minutes or something just to kind of get that creative juice flowing. And then before they go onto the bigger kind of projects that are more work-related and they just give themselves free rein to be totally creative however they want. So that might work for you. 

There’s also something called a power hour that you can do where you can take an hour, usually when you first get up and you either go for a walk or you do some exercise or something to get your juices going. And you visualize the kind of things that you want to do on that day. 

I know that this is something that Julie Grant talked about in the last podcast (episode 5) about having an hour in the morning. She called it a magical hour in the morning to set you up for the day and she really swears by that. 

The same tools won’t work for everyone so just try a few different things and see what works. But above all, if you are feeling overwhelmed right now, don’t worry, we’re all exhausted. The last two years have taken a toll on all of us. I don’t think we even understand at the moment and we will heal but that will take time.

It’s like anything –  you don’t have an operation and be in pain and then just expect to feel better the next day. The last two years have taken a toll on our mental health and our soul. We need to give that time to heal – so give yourself a break and make sure that you’re really in tune with what you need. 

Whether that’s taking a break, whether that’s kind of dealing with this overwhelm that keeps coming forward, whatever it is, just be in tune with yourself and find out how to manage those feelings and I promise you it will get better.