Helping solopreneurs tame anxiety in 5 steps
We solopreneurs are up against a never-ending stream of anxiety-inducing pressure: How many clients? Followers? Hours? Dollars? There’s a lot to keep track of and to keep up with.
In my experience, one of the quickest ways to spiral out of control into anxiety around my business is by losing track of what I want. Like when I get caught up in the “out there” and forget entirely about the “in here.” I have found that I need to keep my eye on my very own prize; redefining success for myself, and keeping that definition nearby as a reminder, is the most immediate way I can center myself and stay clear on what lights me up so that I can keep my head in the game.
Here are 5 steps you can take to redefine what success means to you and get to work in a way that feels authentic to you and creates the best results possible for your business.
What does success look like to you?
First things first, get clear on your current definition of success. Don’t think too hard about it and don’t censor yourself. What’s your gut response to this question?
Write out how you currently measure success for yourself and your business. Make a list of things that, if you achieved them, would qualify you as successful.
Do you like this definition?
Now, set down your pen and read back over your list. How do you feel about each item you’ve written here? Give each element a moment and really reflect: do I like the way this goal or idea feels in my body?
For those that feel good to you, great! Keep ‘em. If there are any that evoke anxiety or dread or fill-in-the-blank-with-something-negative-here, cross them out. Those items don’t belong in your definition of success.
I know what you’re thinking: “Wait! How can I cross out something like committing to a weekly blog post or gaining X amount of followers on social media every month?” I know. It may take a while to ease some of these concepts out from under the grip of your previous definition of success. Be patient with yourself and stay with me…here comes the good stuff.
What do you want success to FEEL like?
Close your eyes and take a couple long, deep breaths. Let’s clear everything out so we can get really honest. Instead of thinking of action items and quantifiable goals that make a solopreneur successful, consider what you want success to feel like. Think about 3 – 5 emotions that accompany success.
A few ideas from my own experience: Fun. Expansive. Big-Hearted. Genuine.
When I think about these emotions, I light up inside. I get excited to get to work. I feel completely in sync with the cosmos or my benevolent angels or God or the Universe, or whatever it is that’s out there.
Now, take the emotions that you came up with and…
Write your own definition of success!
This is the best part. You get to define what success means for you. I want to give you a hint before you start crafting this definition, you ready? Make sure that you can take full responsibility for your success. Success is an inside job. In order for success to truly feel amazing, it cannot come from external sources. It must be something entirely within your control.
Here’s what I mean…
I’m a coach who works with people who struggle with anxiety. It may be tempting for me to measure success by things like: how many clients I have that change their experience of anxiety into something positive; or how many Instagram followers I have; or how many clients I have each week; or how much money I make as a coach. These are all textbook ways of defining success and it’s easy to fall into that trap.
But, 2 things happen when I rely on external factors (i.e. clients, followers, dollars) to decide whether I’m successful or not – I get anxious. Because I cannot control my clients and how they feel, how many people do, or don’t, follow me on social media, or how much money I ultimately make. Sure, there are things that I can do that influence all of those things, but at the end of the day, these things are out of my hands.
I put pressure on my clients and readers. I’m depending on them, their actions, and their wellbeing in order for me to be successful. I have to wait and see how they feel and how they respond in order to see whether or not I’m successful. It feels icky to me and it feels really icky to the people I’m trying to serve.
Instead, here’s how I define success for myself and my business: holding a safe space for my clients; consistently creating content that I find to be supportive on the journey of taming and transforming anxiety, showing up 100%; sharing my story with its up and its downs.
I’m 100% responsible for everything in my current definition of success. I don’t have to depend on anyone, other than myself, to be successful. And here’s the magic of it: people sense it! Clients, followers, readers, they can tell that I’m doing my work in a way that frees them up to take what works and chuck the rest.
They know I don’t require anything of them, so they can come as they are. We can interact wholly authentically because we don’t have to do any weird, desperate dance where I try to manipulate them, or their emotions, into something that spells success for me. I can be successful no matter they think, how they respond, or whether they sign up or not.
Check in with your gut and make room to grow.
This step is where I spend most of my time nowadays. Just like all of our thoughts and beliefs, it’s a good idea to check in with yourself and make sure that the definition you’ve created for yourself feels good to you now…and now…and now. Our businesses go through seasons, just like relationships, the weather, and any other long-term endeavor in your life. What suits you today may not be appropriate in another month or year.
Allow your definition of success to grow as you do. Make room for change and adjustments. Stay aware of where you’re at and what feels good to you: for the work that you’re doing and for whomever you’re serving.
Ready to get rid of the solopreneurial anxiety already? Check out the VIP VAULT – you’ll find free recourses to take you from an anxious cucumber to a chillpreneur!
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Kelly is a holistic anxiety coach, helping clients to completely transform their relationship with anxiety. As a yoga teacher, meditation student, tea health expert, & avid reader, Kelly combines daily wellness practices with thought work, movement, & spirituality to guide the anxious out of the dark & into the light of their best lives. You can find Kelly’s blog, online programs, & get IRL event info at www.kellyhanlinmccormick.com & Instagram @khanlinmccormick.
Hi! I’m Cornelia.