As a business mentor, I encounter this problem a lot. Especially with budding entrepreneurs! I attribute it to many of them being very smart, cerebral, analytical thinkers.
When you have the ability to really assess and analyze the world around us, you have the ability to see it for what it is. And often, the world can present itself in some fairly depressing ways.
The market can seem impenetrable. The established competition can seem unbeatable. The cost of your goods, your rent, and your cable bill can seem to always go up…and never go down.
Its easy – all too easy – to see the dark side of starting and maintaining a business. Why do you probably know more pessimists (or as they like to call themselves “pragmatists”?) than they do happy, optimistic positive people?
Because it’s easy to be a pessimist. You just let go, let gravity do its work and slide down that rabbit hole of depressing, defeatist thinking.
In fact, when you factor in that most entrepreneurs are overworked, underpaid, unappreciated and often playing David to someone else’s Goliath…no wonder they don’t have the energy to rouse themselves into happy, positive thinking.
It’s tiring! It’s one more exertion in an already over-exerted routine.
But you must!
It’s key to stay positive. It’s not unlike what doctors tell you when they diagnose you with a critical illness.
They tell you that people who get depressed about it and give up often don’t heal as well or as quickly as those who keep a positive attitude and are committed to beating the odds.
The same goes for succeeding in business. The biggest constraint you have in your own success is your own negative thought process. Your “stinkin’ thinkin’” can torpedo your business before it ever even launches.
So how do we stay positive, happy, chugging full-steam-ahead in an enviable Little Engine That Could style? There are actually some practical tips that can help you train your brain.
Here are five tactics you can put to work right now to get your brain on the right track, so to speak:
1. Take Note
It sounds a bit silly but try this: keep a negativity journal for a week or so. Go about your business and whenever you start to feel negative or downtrodden about your business, note it down.
Note the time, the situation and most importantly –the trigger.
You can’t overcome bad, negative-thinking habits until you understand them first and get your arms around what triggers that feeling in you.
I know a friend who greatly increased her happiness when she realized that a lot of her negative self-talk happened right after she’d check her Facebook feed.
There she would often see a former colleague of hers posting photos of his new, uber-successful business.
Once she realized that she was so envious of her colleague’s success that it was distracting her from creating her own, she simply hid that person from her FB feed for a while.
In eliminating just this tiny trigger, she was able to focus on following her own dreams and later on ‘un hid’ him when she was in a more stable, confident frame of mind.
The notebook won’t only help you identify your negative triggers but it will also help you recognize what kind of negativity you tend to engage in.
What it feels like, looks like, sounds like. Once you know what your bummer thoughts actually sound like, you’ll be better prepared to pounce on them, grab them by the scruff and throw them out the window like the unwanted vermin they are.
For instance, you might not realize (until you write it down) that a lot of your negative thinking centers around “If only I had done x, y or z.”
Until you actually help yourself articulate exactly what is bringing you down (in this case, living in the past), you won’t know how to counteract it.
Once you identify that pattern in yourself, you can arm yourself with the right “antidote” language. So in this case, if you know you tend to drift to the past and beat yourself up about it, you can train yourself to stop that in it’s tracks with a firm “I can’t control the past but I CAN control today.”
In this way, recording your negative thoughts will help you to rewire them.
2. Get Extremely Visual
A lot…and I mean a lot…of what entrepreneurs have to do to succeed is tedious, boring, difficult and often beyond our comfort zone.
Wearing a lot of hats doesn’t just mean a big time investment, it means doing things we don’t want to do. Like analyzing how well The Other Guy is doing.
Or creating budgets and sales forecasts that, right now, look a little constricting and anemic. But do them we must!
So how do you push yourself through those often boring/depressing tasks? You just keep your eyes on the prize. Literally! When you feel overwhelmed or down over something you know you must slog through, just stop.
Take a minute, take a breath, and close your eyes. Imagine what success looks like in your business.
Is it having enough customers that you can afford to hire an assistant to do all this drudgery for you? Is it being able to expand your product line and really skyrocket your business?
Is it simply a new car you have been eying that you promised yourself you’d buy if you hit a certain sales goal?
Imagine that car, that assistant in detail. Envision yourself handing that folder to your assistant on the way out to play a round of golf in the middle of the week.
The more detail you can pack into your positive vision of the future, the more energy you’ll find to power through today’s task list.
3. The Tunnel Ends
This tip is stunningly simple. The most positive people you know aren’t positive 100% of the time. They, too, go through their grumpy, depressed, Negative Nancy moments.
Things happen, after all. Bad things. There are bound to be times they experience crushing disappointments and even epic failures. And only an extremely plastic (or psychopathic) person would not be affected by them.
The difference with positive people is that they really take to heart that old axiom of “this too shall pass.” They don’t just know it; they feel it and actively remind themselves of it.
They know that there are bound to be tunnels but there is indeed always light at the end of them. So they allow themselves to be disappointed for a short period of time and then they cut it off before it turns into wallowing.
Go ahead and feel the bad thing for a bit but then move on. The feeling bad is the easy part and the one we all do effortlessly. The moving on and putting a cap on it is the part that takes a mindful effort.
4. Abundance & Only One
Another quick way uplift your spirits, when it seems like you’ll never make enough sales or never find that profitable partnership, is to either put yourself in a mind frame of “abundance” or “only one.” Let me explain.
Say you’re selling hummingbird feeders and sales haven’t quite picked up yet. You start to feel doubt that maybe nobody wants to buy hummingbird feeders and that this was a dumb idea and down you go into the negative spiral.
A great way to stop yourself from that slide is to think in terms of abundance.
Remind yourself of exactly how many hummingbird fanatics are out there (a quick Facebook search shows a public “hummingbirds anonymous” group with 24k members.)
Remind yourself of how many other companies successfully sell hummingbird feeders. Think of how large the entire market is, not just what you yourself have been able to crack, and then tell yourself you just need to get out there and sell to them.
Conversely, there’s the Only One technique. This is one often used in selling houses. You may be told your house will never sell, it’s overpriced, it’s too custom for the masses, etc.
But you know what? It only takes one buyer to make the deal. Just one. The same holds true for that perfect partnership or big buyer of your wholesale goods.
You may not need 100 or even 10 people to ‘buy in’ to your product or service. You might just need one. They’re out there, don’t get discouraged, go find them!
5. Stay Accountable
And finally, the easiest way to stay positive might seem counter intuitive. Remind yourself that you’re not a victim; you’re not some helpless reed being blown around and buffeted in an uncontrollable wind.
If something bad is going down, chances are you had some part in causing it to happen.
How is this good news, exactly? Sounds like layering a depressing thought over an already depressing thought.
Not so! Sure, taking the blame and accountability for bad things happening in one’s life seems, on the surface, a bad thing. But it’s not!
Because it also reveals the power you have, the influence to change your life and make it better. You don’t have to wait around for some phantom luck to turn around or for some external force to change your fortune.
You have the power to fix it yourself!
Feel better? I do, just writing all that out. Tell me what triggers your most negative thinking.
How do you combat it? Do you bother to combat it or do you find yourself often overwhelmed with negative thoughts? Share in the comments below.
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