I live in the
mid-west, and the seasonal changes around me are showing signs of shedding what
is no longer needed. Have you considered doing the same? As I approach this
time of year, I have learned to take stock of what I am spending time and
energy working on. Taking a tip from nature, I assess what I no longer need to
be focused on (especially those activities that are energy zapping), and
prepare to open up space so I can dig into new opportunities.
In the Fall trees shed their leaves and go dormant to store up energy for new growth in the Spring. Likewise, taking time to assess priorities and projects will free up space to potentially add more interesting, productive, prospects that are a better return on your investment of knowledge, skills, and abilities. Sometimes it is a simple as prioritizing tasks and to-do lists to identifying how you are using your time. As you do this, you can also see if tasks or projects need to be eliminated, especially if they no longer add value.
What are you working on that is energy draining? Can this project be discontinued or handed off to someone else? Does your calendar and schedule include time for self-care and growth? If you had no restrictions on your time and energy, what would be your ideal project look like? How energized would this make you feel? This is where you should be focusing your energy!
Like many small
business owners, I am not working with just one business or one client each
day/week. I have to manage where my energy is used to generate the best
outcome. Some weeks external factors create stress, and if not managed
correctly stress can be the underlying cause to many negative impacts on our
Stress is a feeling people have when they’re overloaded and
struggling to cope with demands on work, relationships, finances, or other
situations that pose real or perceived challenges or threats to a person’s
wellbeing. Stress can be a motivator and it can be essential to survival.
However, too much stress can decrease immune activity, slow down digestion, and
Stress is a state of mental or emotional strain or tension
resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances. Stress is the body’s
reaction to any change that requires an adjustment or response. The body reacts
to these changes with physical, mental, and emotional responses. According to
the Cleveland Clinic, stress is a normal part of life that people experience – stress
from the body, stress from thoughts, or stress from the environment.
Being aware of how you react to stressors can help reduce
negative impacts and manage more effective strategies to cope with stress. As
leaders, it is important to develop effective stress reducing strategies. Some
strategies that help reduce or manage the impact of stress include: exercise,
balanced nutrition, time for relaxation, breathing practices, mediation, and
prioritizing what is important.
In order for a
business to grow, those invested in the business must also grow. Entrepreneurs
and leaders of small businesses often find it difficult to allocate time for
professional development, and sadly when the leaders don’t grow then the
business can lose some or all of its potential to grow. It is vital that as
leaders we schedule time for our own professional development in order to stay
in tune with changing trends in the industry, in technology, in processes, and
in policies that affect our business.
In John Maxwell’s book “The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth,”
John recommends making an appointment in your calendar for professional growth.
We schedule clients, meetings, inventory, as well as time to read and reply to
email, so why not begin to set aside time each week to increase your knowledge
and understanding of specific topics that can impact the growth of your
Start small. For example, you could read an article about
the impact of social media on developing new customers, or listen to a podcast
related to customer service. The important thing is to schedule the time and
then track what you learn from the time spent learning new information, skills,
It has been proven that it takes at least 3-4 weeks to
develop a habit, so I challenge you to schedule 20-30 minutes in your calendar
for 4-6 weeks and create a professional growth plan. The plan will identify
what you will do during the time, and describe why this is important to the
business. You might look at ways to improve sales, train or manage employees,
identify new marketing strategies, or other topics related to your specific
Keep a notebook (physical or electronic) where you can evaluate how to apply what you learn to your business; assess if you can use the information as it is given, or possibly adapt the information to your specific business. Documenting what you are learning and describing how you will use it is a great way to process new knowledge, and often it will give you inspiration to make changes the will positively impact your business. Share your progress.
challenges last year and surgery in January, I am finally getting back to
things I started last year. As I looked back at my Blog Posts, I had to smile
when I realized that the last one focused on self-care. Self-care has held me together
through many challenges. If you have a foundation of self-care practices, then
you will automatically have habits or rituals in place when faced with
difficult situations (stressors). Changes in technology and the 24/7 world
around us make it essential that we are prepared to face whatever stress
impacts our daily lives. Stress can be physical, psychological, emotional, or environmental,
and our bodies will either react or be trained to act in a specific way to the
stress. For example, sitting too long at work puts stress on the body, and the
stress can be lessened by getting up and moving. One way to train your body is
to set a timer – either on your computer, phone or fitness device. In order to
live and work at the new speed of light, we need to make sure that we are
taking care of these amazing bodies that we have the responsibility to
If you have taken a trip by air, you should have heard the announcement regarding the use of the oxygen masks. The rule is that once they are activated you should put your mask on before assisting anyone else. I have heard this message for years, but it wasn’t until I was focused on self-care practices that I realized how much this message resonates in everyday life. How often do we take care of those around us to our own self-care detriment? It is easy to do if you don’t have a self-care plan. Much like the fuel gauge on your vehicle – you can’t go anywhere on empty. It is so important to design self-care practices that are implemented throughout the day. They can be as simple as starting the day with breathing or meditation practices, followed by walking and breathing in nature (when possible), or finding a quiet place to decompress for a few minutes between busy meetings. What have you done today to refuel your energy level?
I recently read the quote in this image, and it made me smile. “I choose to be unstoppable…” When I have a vision or goal, I research, I plan, and I execute strategies to reach my objective. Things don’t always go as I planned from day one, and I have to make modifications along the way. My dad is a pilot and he explains that when a plane takes off, the pilot knows the destination, but has to make adjustments while in the air to adjust for changes in weather, other aircraft, and unforeseen occurrences that impact the flight plan. I find that implementing a strategic plan is like flying a plane, we have to make adjustments to our plan in order to reach our goal. What makes you unstoppable?
Leaders set action priorities for themselves and for their business; however, actions often become “fire-fighting” events to address emergencies rather than planned pro-active achievements. Most leaders are good at creating “to-do” task lists, but many are not so proficient at prioritizing that list. Take a look at your task list and see if you can put your items into three piles: 1) what will destroy the business if not done immediately, 2) what will hurt the business if not done soon, and 3) what would have marginal impact on the business if not completed within the next few weeks, and could potentially be outsourced. Now that the list is prioritized, focus on the items in the first pile and identify resources and actions necessary to accomplish the task. As you look at your task list for this week, think about what item belongs in which pile.