Dear Kat, How do you deal with those moments/ days/ weeks when all you want to do is give up? In the past month, so much stuff has happened that it’s been incredibly stressful and at times totally overwhelming. Some of it has been to do with my business. I won’t go into details but it’s had to involve lawyers. I’m actually really loving what I’m learning about the law, but the emotional side of things, and having to construct my own case, has been pretty stressful.
I don’t think I’ve ever been so close to giving it all up. I’ve been in tears almost every day at some point this past month. But then I think about how much I love my job and my customers, how hard I’ve worked at my business and the amazing reputation I’ve gradually and very carefully built up and that keeps me hanging in there for another day.
Apologies for the long ramble I just really want to ask how you would go about coping with all this stuff coming at you from every angle imaginable. I’m sure if I feel this way, other people must feel this way too.
Many people will tell you that situations such as yours are sent to test us but I call bullshit on that one. I don’t believe for one second that some divine influence is trying to see if we’re up to scratch, I think that things like this are just part and parcel of running your own business. Whether it’s a challenge related specifically to your business, or it’s something in your personal life that’s making it harder to concentrate on work, tough things happen to everyone.
People telling us to “stay positive” or “keep the faith” just feel like empty words. It won’t always be smooth sailing, sunbeams, rainbows and a truckload of orders; there will be times like this when it feels like the whole world is out to get you and it would just be easier to pack it all in. No matter how strong we are, unforeseen circumstances can leave us feeling lost, scared and vulnerable. It’s important to remember that you are not helpless though, far from it.
Firstly, dear emailer, you need to realise that the whole world is not out to get you. When we’re going through a testing time it’s very easy to get into a spiral of imagining the worst and dramatising the situation. Yes, this is rubbish but it doesn’t bear any reflection on everything you’ve achieved before. You have customers who love and appreciate what you do and a network of industry connections that you have worked hard to build up. They’re not going anywhere and everything you’ve ever built is not going to come crashing down overnight.
It’s also very easy at times like this to throw our hands in the air and exclaim “It’s all over! This is the end of the road, I can’t cope any more!” But you know what (tough love time coming…!) pull yourself together. You can do this. You are a strong, confident and capable woman who’s launched and made a success of running her own business. Many have tried and failed before you, you’re already a step ahead. Don’t you forget that.
While I couldn’t possibly advise you on anything specifically to do with the situation you’re in now, what I can do it let you know how I’ve got myself through similar, soul-crushing and stress-inducing situations.
Remember that everything happens for a reason
It may sound like an airy fairy empty concept but it’s up to you, and only you, as to how you view problem. If you go through life knowing that every problem or bump in the road is serving a greater purpose – sending you on a better path or teaching you something valuable that you’ll come to rely on later, these problems will be much easier to mentally navigate. But more than that, it will encourage you to look for an empowering lesson in every situation.
Someday you’re going to say “If X didn’t happen to me I wouldn’t have then done/ discovered/ uncovered BLANK.” You’ve already said you’ve been really enjoying learning about the law, I wonder if this new found knowledge and passion will come in handy later?
Find people to talk to
People both in and out of the industry will help you enormously because they’ll see things from a different perspective. That’s not to say they’re going to solve any of your immediate problems for you, but just having people there to listen to you, to comfort you and to tell you that they care is immensely important. Just be sure to choose these confidants carefully, you don’t want to go blabbing your problems to anyone and everyone.
Trying to deal with the stress by yourself is a recipe for disaster. Without support you’ll crumble under the pressure. Your close colleagues who know the ins and outs of the situation can advise you on more practical elements of what you’re going through but those outside of it are just as vital. These are the people who you can scream at down the phone to or cry over a glass of wine with. You don’t need to be strong or professional with them. Whatever you do though don’t try and cope on your own.
Take each moment at a time
My biggest piece of advice though is to take each day, hour, minute, second at a time. Try to avoid looking at the big picture right now, as the enormity of it is just going to stress you out even more. Tackle one thing at a time and really focus on just doing what’s in front of you. Try not to mull and stress over why this has all come about or worry about what might happen down the line, just focus on being in this very moment and getting through what you have to do right now.
It’s likely that you’re struggling to see an end in sight and by trying to second-guess the future you’re doing nothing but adding to your worries. Give yourself an easier ride and break your tasks down into smaller, manageable chunks. If you do this, soon enough you’ll be nearing the end without even knowing it. You’ll be achieving things with less effort and looking back you’ll be amazed at how far you’ve come.
Also think about taking some time away from it all. Situations like this can be all-consuming if you let them, they’re the first thing you think about when you wake up and the last thing you worry about before you drop off. Take a few days away, recharge those batteries and see if you can come back with a renewed energy to tackle it.
Remember your end goal
I don’t think I have to ask you if you feel that it’s worth the fight. It’s plainly obvious to me that you are passionate about your business and you want to do this. You just need to power through this difficult time to come out on the other side.
Always keep in mind that you have customers that love you, you’ve worked hard for this business of yours and that you’re not going to give up without a fight. Celebrate little triumphs as they come through, don’t bury them down and feel like that new order isn’t worth celebrating because it doesn’t ‘fix’ anything.
You might think giving up would just be easier right now, but realise that it will be worth it in the end. Use your passion for your business and drive to succeed to get through this rough patch and really focus on that amazing feeling you’ll have when you finally come out the other side. I promise it’ll be worth it.
- Photography: Vladimir Martí