Career & Business

How To Avoid The Biggest Source of Business Stress

December 22, 2010

Hi! I'm Marie

You have gifts to share with the world and my job is to help you get them out there.

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Yesterday, I was on the phone with a game changer.

She’s an author, speaker and long-time activist.

She’s attracted high profile supporters to endorse her work, and is about to launch full tilt into a book promo tour.

She called to get my insight on business strategy.

Specifically, she wanted ideas to help her organization make more money. So far, so good.

As she told me everything she had going on, a small knot began to form in my stomach. Why?

Because I recognized a deadly addiction in her, that I’ve seen in many entrepreneurs, including myself.

It’s the addiction to too many damn projects. And more specifically, the addiction to too many damn unfinished projects that aren’t making money.

This addiction, in turn, fuels one of the biggest sources of business stress in existence: overwhelm.

Self-generated, self-sustaining overwhelm.

Many successful women have a nasty habit of generating massive overwhelm by saying yes to too many projects without spending nearly enough time discerning exactly how those projects fit into their overall profit picture or their overall lifestyle picture.

Well-meaning, I’m-here-to-change-the-world-kind-of-women, in particular, struggle with this issue.

Here’s the deal. If you want a highly profitable business and you want to enjoy the sweet fruits of your labor, you’ve got to handle your addiction to too many damn projects.

The great news is that a few small changes in your approach will net you both immediate and long term results.

As a recovering too-many-damn-projects addict myself, here are four steps to get you started.

Step 1.   Know exactly what you want.

Do you know exactly what you want to create in your business?

How much revenue and profit you’d like to earn over the next 12 months?

From what products and or services you’d like to earn that?

Can you clearly and quickly articulate this to someone who could help you get there? If not, figure this out now.

I often tell my clients, “I can help you create whatever you want as long as you can clearly tell me what that is.”

Look. You’ve got genius in you.

If you’re one of those people locked in “Help – I don’t know what I want!” land, I promise that somewhere within you, you do.

Sometimes your true desires need to be coaxed it out.

Play, experiment, explore. Talk about it. Try different things on for size.

Write down your ideas. Refine them. Make what you want crystal clear.

And if you already know exactly what you want, HOORAY for you!

Keep it front and center at all times.

Step 2.   Be brutally honest about what it takes.

Get real with yourself on how much time, money and effort anything you say yes to actually takes to get done. Why?

Because most of us say yes to things before really thinking through exactly what we’re in for.

We chronically underestimate what it takes to complete projects.

Especially in terms of time, money and effort. All too often, we wind up overwhelmed and underfunded. Then we quit.

Or worse, we have a slew of partially complete, non-money making projects renting valuable space in our heads, our hard drives and our hearts.

Like any home renovation project, a good rule of thumb is that most business projects take much longer and cost way more than you initially thought.

Say yes with your eyes wide open.

Step 3.   Create white space.

I don’t know about you, but I find it near impossible to work when there’s clutter around. Any kind of clutter: physical, mental, emotional or psychological.

The fix?

Cultivate what I affectionately call white space.

Areas of your world that are open, clean, and simple.

Over the past four weeks I’ve been methodically clearing out every square inch of my physical and energetic life including my homes, my finances, my books, my calendar, my inbox, my refrigerator, my future projects, my computer files, my project list, my daily tasks, my systems and my yearly business goals.

Wanna see instant results?

Start with your physical environment.

Chose one physical area to clear out, like a closet, and go to town.

Don’t stop until you can’t possibly throw away or donate another item.

Muy importante: don’t wuss out, get sentimental and hang onto things just in case.

What remains should only be what you absolutely love and must have.

Step 4.  Get a first class ticket on the “No Train.”

If you live in constant state of business overwhelm, it’s essential to get your ass on what I call the No Train as soon as possible.

When you’re on the No Train, you allow “no” to be your initial response to new projects, new requests, new demands on your time.

This is especially helpful if you have a backlog of old tasks and projects you’ve agreed to, but have not yet complete.

You don’t have to ride the No Train forever.

And you can certainly get off for a quick stop if a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity comes along (though these are rare). Think of your time on the No Train a much needed business colonic.

Important tip: Once you get on the No Train, be prepared as you’ll still experience overwhelm for the next few weeks to a month because you’ll still have to complete all the projects you committed to a long time  ago.

The best part of this strategy is that you become hyper aware of your addiction to take on too much at once and you’ll begin to break that nasty pattern once and for all.

Of course, this list isn’t comprehensive, but it will get you on the road to recovery.

How about YOU? Got thoughts on this topic or stories to share?

Leave a comment below and let me know. And if you’ve found this post helpful, go ahead and share it.

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