What would me say to me?
This post started with an innocuous thought as I was speaking to someone I coach. I won't say that I specialize in tough love or anything, but I will say that if you are in a rut, and ask me for a push, the velvet gloves come off. I feel one of the things that I am okay at is being a no BS type of guy. I don't shy against hurting your feelings if you need that kind of a push. It's not mean spirited, but rather it's speaking honestly, and honesty can sound a lot like "You're being an asshole."
As you may or may not know I quit a job working as a shoe rep in June. I did this for a number of reasons, but the main factors pushing me to finally quit was the opening of a second FRESHJUNKIE, and if I am honest, I just didn't have any passion for it anymore.
There is never a perfect time to go out on your own, and I tell people all the time that the goal is to close the chasm as much as possible, then jump. Unless you are just going to a different job, there will be ups and downs. This fall, I found myself in one of these downs.
When I jumped, my restaurants were both super busy and things looked great. As with every business there are a lot of ups and downs. Some you can control and some are out of your control. The goal is to keep things as even keeled as you can.
I have a tendency to say YES alot. I still believe in doing this with one caveat. There comes a time when you have to focus. I felt like July-December was a literal whirlwind. Over this period I trained for and finished an Ironman, travelled to Canada twice, Chatanooga twice, Colorado once, helped put on 6 races and for 17 days in November, catered a movie set. This on top of coaching 20+ athletes and having a wife and family. Somewhere around October I had one of those, "What the hell are you doing?" moments.
I was driving down the street one day and was moping about being overwhelmed and thinking to myself that something had to give. I was basically feeling sorry for myself. It was then that I thought to myself. "People value you 'breaking it down' for them, for your honest assessment. What would you tell yourself." I was about to endure some of my own tough love.
I love a step by step process, here's what I tried
1. My first step was to realize that I have it very good. All one has to do is crack open the paper, the book of faces or any news channel to see that people are hurting. Me feeling sorry for myself because I had too much self created chaos was bullshit. I gave myself some of my own medicine. "Please, tell me about how bad you have it with your heath, your loving family, multiple business opportunities and more work than you can handle. I really want to feel bad for you." A smack in the face was deserved.
2. I did my best for the next few weeks to work down on all the open projects I had and try to not take on anything else. This is easier said than done, but what I at least committed to was nothing new between December 8th and the weekend of The Louisiana Marathon (Jan 18th). I only picked up two more races, BUT they were for spring and part of life is juggling now with the future. It's not like you are going to work through your present chaos and start from nothing.
3. Do your damnedest to focus on doing those existing projects as well as you can through the marathon. There will always be unexpected twists and turns, but the more I could try and control the chaos, the better. Also, don't beat yourself up when the wheels jump the track. Just make sure you get them back on as soon as you can. Last week, I had an employee have an accident at work. I had planned on focussing on checklists for the restaurant that day, but instead spent 4 hours at urgent care. By the time my day got back on track it was near 4 in the afternoon. I made sure to at the least start on 2 lists and get them to a place where I could resume the next day. Progress, not perfection.
4. Ask for help. A good friend of 20+ years and I have a running joke that we remind ourselves of a lot, especially when we are "crazy busy". It started when we would tell our waitstaff that when they got "in the weeds' that they needed to say "I need help!" Stephen and I will jokingly say this to each other damn near anytime we are speaking and overwhelmed. Mostly we are joking, but it is a good reminder to ask for help from those in place to help you. It's a sign you are smart, not weak. You will find people are more than willing if you also return the favor.
5. Take inventory of what's important, what must get done, and what can be moved. I almost put this first, and it could probably go further up but really it's just important that it gets done. This requires stopping and making a list of everything you are committed to. If nothing else you will have a list of what needs to get done. I usually also find that the inventory taking is a way to calm anxiety and give yourself at least one step to take.
6. Do something. The biggest unstated effect of being overwhelmed with commitments is that if you let it pile up, it can be paralyzing. After you have taken stock in step 5, pick something, anything and act on it. Preferably, you'd want to have narrowed things down to what's really important, but the reality is that moving on something breaks that "Where do I start?" feeling. Keep picking one thing and keep being diligent to what's going to get you further each and every day. Theoretically this will get you going in the right direction.
7. Did I mention to suck it up? Well if I didn't SUCK IT UP!
hugs + high fives