Sweet Endings and (Almost) New Beginnings

By Carolyn Campbell, MA, CPPC

At the end of every year, I spend the month of December intentionally reflecting on what’s passed and begin preparing for the year ahead. This year, I decided to reflect on my clients’ challenges, as well, to find common themes that many businesses grapple with.

Below are six key areas I noticed in 2014. Next to each title is a blank space for you to give yourself a score (0 – 10). After you read through them all, you’ll have a chance to consider the ones you’d like to strengthen, and what actions you might take to do so.

  1. Relish Balance ____

    Everyone talks about the importance of balance, but for many it can seem nearly impossible. There is always something else that can appear more urgent. But, taking time for you is critical not only for a healthy you, but also for a successful business. Studies show that creators and leaders often accomplish their best work when they take time ‘off’. Seemingly, as if by magic, when they get back to their office the article writes itself, or a troubling issue finds a resolution. Perhaps a morning run, a mid-day massage, a workout at the gym, a power nap, or even a dance class. What will it be for you?

    Oh, and don’t forget, when partnering with others, be sure they honor balance as much as you do. A client of mine recently bemoaned: “My partner over-commits himself with everyone. When he’s with me or a client, he’s stressed out, antsy, or has to be somewhere else. He is constantly trying to catch up and unable to follow through on commitments.” Before you choose your partner(s), watch how they live their life. If theirs is askew, trust me, they will be askew with you!

    Consider color-coding (red’s my favorite) your ‘balance time’ in your calendar (whatever form you use). That way, you’ll be less tempted to skip it if a ‘crisis’ comes along. I’ve actually told stressed-out business owners that if they don’t take time for themselves, I won’t work with them. It’s that important.

  2. Claim Your Desire ____

    One of my clients is an amazing storyteller. When he first came to me, he was so deflated. He confided: “I need to be working at a different level and making more money. I just can’t keep this up.” I asked him to describe, as specifically as he could, what he wanted more of?what kind of stories, for what types of organizations? Simultaneously, we talked money. What would he really like to make for his performances? What income did he want? How many clients did he want to work with each year? It’s critical to talk about these in tandem. By naming the types of stories that he loved, how many clients he wanted, and how much he wanted to make in a year, he could see a pathway forward. Soon he was reaching into a whole new sphere of connection with far more joy and impressive financial results.

    I’ve seen so many people leave the corporate world to escape the scourge of unfulfilling and soul-killing work, only to recreate it by building a business that doesn’t honor them and their needs. Take time to assess what you want, how much you need to make, and who you want to work with next year. It will make the world of difference in how you go about getting work.

  3. Enjoy the Bounty of Boundaries ____

    If businesses that create boundaries around their services do better than those who don’t, why is it such a challenging thing for business owners to do?

    When you ‘need’ business it can be very tempting to give away more than you want, or offer things that you don’t really have time for, or work at times that you don’t really prefer?to keep your clients happy. While well-intentioned, this rarely pays off in the end. When your boundaries are sloppy, it can feel like people are taking advantage of you. But, in reality, they are just following your lead.

    I have my clients, especially service-based businesses, create a client packet specifically outlining what they do, how they do it, and what clients can expect. In addition to providing clients much-wanted guidelines, it helps business owners articulate clear boundaries. And the cool part is that people will almost always respect them. Knowing when to say ‘yes’ and when to say ‘no’?clearly, kindly, and firmly, when need be?is the best way to gain the respect and success you deserve.

  4. Get All the Support You Need ____

    There is nothing quite as sweet as getting support from others. Yet, asking for and cultivating support can be challenging for many business leaders. I have one client who is legendary in her ability to get support in her personal life. When she needs help, her friends rally around to help her. She doesn’t hesitate to ask. And people are glad to give it to her. They feel so honored that she asked.

    In her business, however, it’s a whole different story. A few weeks back she asked, “Why would someone want to give me money for that? Why would they want to help with a project they won’t be paid for?” She literally freezes if she has to ask for help. As we started to tease out the reasons for the huge gap between the two, she had one of those a-ha moments. She comes from a large extended family who showered her with love and support. But she learned from her dad, who was a banker, that in business people are competitive and protective and that you must work hard to get ahead.

    Which one is easiest for you? Personal ___ Business ___ Community ___

    How are your beliefs about that arena different than the others? How are your ‘actions’ different? Take a moment and imagine what might happen if you apply these positive beliefs to the other, less easy areas.

  5. Love Your Whole Package (Well, how about 90% of it?) ____

    Business owners are truly a quirky bunch. I really believe there’s something different in our DNA. We put our Self out into the world of strangers. We do things beyond our comfort zone on a fairly regular basis. Some of us are introverts, others extroverts. Regardless, I’ve yet to meet a successful business owner who hasn’t faced criticism and rejection. It can definitely cause one’s knees to buckle. If you have a strong sense of who you are, you can not only weather the challenges, but actually enjoy them. Seriously. Take time to laugh at yourself. Appreciate your delightful oddness. Honor your kinks.

    Take a moment to ask yourself and the people who love you: “What are my most endearing quirks?” These are your own special ‘isms’. Oddly, these are the very things that others gravitate towards. So, embrace them and put them out there.

  6. Celebrate, Celebrate, Celebrate ____

    The world constantly demands that we get more capable, more successful, more charming, smarter, thinner, stronger, on and on. My answer to the relentless pressure to pursue perfection? Celebrate! Celebrating is about rejoicing and perhaps reveling to commemorate an event. Celebrate the little stuff. Celebrate the learning. Celebrate the moments you did something new or that time you stumbled and then found your way again. When you do this on a regular basis, you’ll be surprised to see what possibilities, opportunities, and connections start to come your way.

    What can you celebrate today?

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If you haven’t scored yourself, go back and do so. Then, consider which ones are most important to you becoming the best, happiest, and healthiest business and human being you can be. Take the next few weeks to begin to put a ‘new game’ into play. That way, when you make a New Year’s resolution, you will have already had a dry run to see if it’s really what you want. Next month, we’ll explore the two most overlooked elements of any successful business – faith and failure. I can’t wait!