Sometimes You Need To Take A Step Back With Your Business To Move Forward

This post was written by A-ron, a regular contributor for MyWifeQuitHerJob.com!

I was trying way too hard. It was the proverbial square peg in a round hole. And I was banging it pretty hard, to the point of exhausting me, mentally and physically, without even thinking about it. I thought it was what I was supposed to do, a flawed rationale if ever there is one.

Photo By Blah Adam

You know you need to back off and relax when you start getting sick a lot.

Headaches, stomach aches, horrible diet choices, alcohol consumption, no energy or time for exercise, alienating friends and family, and all sorts of other symptoms are the world signaling you that maybe what you’re doing isn’t a good fit for you.

Related: How to Burn Yourself Out in 2 Weeks When Starting Your Online Business

Work As A Drug

There’s a fine line between working hard and just working for work’s sake. It almost becomes an addiction after a while. If you spend a day doing nothing, or blowing off what you wanted to get done in favor of something else, and you then feel like a failure for the day, that’s a good clue you’re addicted.

My boss at the day job is like this. A lot of people working the 9 to 5 grind are like this. You have 40 hours a week to fill, whether there’s something important to do or not. Innovation, creativity, and a whole host of other fulfilling activities get crushed when all you’re doing is spinning your wheels.

Related: Entrepreneurial Mistakes: Are You Procrastinating Under The Guise Of Doing Work?

Wanting It Bad Syndrome

I love watching American Idol, in the beginning of the season. I give up after all the golden tickets have been given out. The first rounds of rehearsals are what interest me the most. I knew a girl a few years ago who was going to an audition for the show.

I was asking her how she was going to handle Simon if he did what he does best, belittle people to make them feel inferior. She told me that she has to go through a preliminary audition before getting presented to the celebrity judges. She failed to make the cut.

So all those people you see on TV have already been filtered, and of course, all the ridiculous ones have been chosen for pure comedic/dramatic value. Train wrecks seem to be way more interesting to the TV viewing masses.

Anyway, I like the show because everyone who makes it to the celebrity auditions truly believe they have the talent to win the competition. We know all of them except 1 is delusional. They may have talent, but the odds are stacked heavily against them.

There’s always a handful that plead their case when the judges reject them, and the only argument they have is “I really, really, really want this.” I roll my eyes and yell at the TV, “of course you do, everyone who is waiting for hours on end with a bunch of other lunatics want it just as bad as you!” Then I angrily turn it off and do something that doesn’t give me brain damage.

The thing is, we’re all like this. We think we want something so bad that we try and force it. No one likes to go to a job. No one. I don’t care if you claim to love your job, if you could make the same amount of money, guaranteed, without having to exchange your precious time for it, 99.99999% of you would.

That’s why we’re all here. We desperately want something, anything, that can replace the need to work a shitty job and put up with a shitty boss. We’re no different than all the delusional American Idol wannabes.

Stop Digging

Now, I’m not saying that wanting to own a small online business of your own is delusional. Far from it. What I am saying, is that in our desperation to build a successful, profitable business, we lose focus on what’s most important to us, and what value we’re adding to the world.

It’s happened to me more than once over the last few years, in my attempts to escape the grind, I’ve latched on to business ideas that didn’t align well with me. I was forcing it. I was living in the delusion.

And it showed in my businesses. It showed up in my personal life. It showed in my writing. It showed up in my health. It showed up to everyone observing on the outside, and I was the lone idiot on the inside grinding away in the fog. This has happened more than once. To sum it up, I wasn’t building a business that provides value to people.

I was building a business in an attempt to add value to MY life. In the real world, this just doesn’t work for very long. Eventually, people will sniff you out as the phony you are. Or, you’ll burn out completely trying to keep up the illusion.

Both of the outcomes are good things. It’s like detecting cancer early, when it’s still treatable. I’m thankful that I reached the burn out point, and now I have a chance to rebuild. I have a chance to apply the lessons learned, and finally I learned the most important lesson of all. It’s not one thing, and it’s different for everyone. Just remember this: there is no bottom. Don’t let anyone fool you.

Related: What Does It Take To Get You Off Your Butt And Start Your Small Business?

The literal bottom is death, and none of us are there yet. But you can keep digging and digging and digging and no one will ever tell you to stop. They might, but you won’t listen, unless you pay attention every single day. Ask yourself, “do I really want to do this today?” I think I stole that from Steve Jobs or some other billionaire smart person like him.

It’s OK to say “no,” no matter how entrenched you might feel. I gradually stopped playing guitar, after spending half of my life playing for hours almost every day. I liken it to the scene in Forest Gump, after he had been running for a really long time, one day he just stops in the middle of the road and decides he doesn’t want to do it any more.

It doesn’t mean you’ve failed. It only means it’s time to recuperate, reload, and begin again.

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5 thoughts on “Sometimes You Need To Take A Step Back With Your Business To Move Forward”

  1. Not only will taking a step back help you move forward, it will also help you see what you are doing wrong in your business. This is something that many people don’t do and it is a shame.

    Pam

  2. Yeah, very true…It’s hard to step back when you’re so focused, but you have to take breaks and assess what it is that you’re doing, and whether it makes sense…

  3. Ask yourself, “do I really want to do this today?” Great quote!

    I did just that, after a year of working to build my online teaching business at a breakneck speed. After a crazy day of running around taking care of kids, meeting a volunteer obligation and then racing back home to record a live webinar for subscribers, I was exhausted and spent. It sucked.

    So, I just stopped. Took a month off from tweaking, developing, finessing…stopped all of it and let it sit. I even stopped development of an e-book I’d promised to webinar attendees–the horror!

    Naomi Dunford from ittybiz.com said recently ” if this isn’t working, you’re allowed to quit and find something that does.”

    Great advice.

    I calculated what I had actually been making from this business over the previous 10-12 months. It was scary. Not in a good way. BUT it made me stop and think–what do I really want to do with this business, who do I really want to help and how should I do it? Instead of just pounding my head against the pavement and being seduced by every high-flying internet success out there.

    And now? The pace is slower, I track my time spent so its reasonable, and my business has actually become more successful as a result. When I’m done with a project, I’m done. Still have a ways to go, but I’m moving in a better direction.

    Thanks for the wonderful post on this topic.

    1. I was building a web app a few years ago for tournament management and I had pretty much the same experience. I was killing myself trying to get it finished, and in the end I just flamed out and gave up. I used to think I was a failure, and that I couldn’t finish anything, and I’m lazy, blah blah blah, all the crap that productivity idiots trying and cram down your throat.

      Now I just realize that when/if flame out happens, it’s time to do something different.

      The quote was from Steve Jobs when he did a commencement speech several years ago. He said, when you look in the mirror every morning and ask yourself “if today was my last day on Earth, would I do what I’m about to do today?” And when the answer is “no” long enough, it’s time for a change.

  4. wole says:

    Thank you…..maybe I should have written this on one of your other blog posts but it just hit me to write something back. Its like good avice you’ve been looking for but can’t seem to find. Common sense that is so simple and clear , right in front of you but you don’t seem to see. I’ve been reading your blog like a book (maybe you should compile and publish) and one thing which touched me the most was this, it shouldn’t be easy. That’s your edge, if it is easy then you don’t have an edge and also its value to others creates its value to you.

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