If you’ve read my blog much, you probably know that my mom has a disability and recently got a new service dog named Junior. I bring this up because it’s critical toward what I want to talk about today. Junior has been awesome, he’s incredibly well-behaved and perfect for my mom’s physical needs. To my mom, he’s like a suped-up race car able to do anything she needs.
The problem has been that while Junior is in perfect shape to help my mom go on any adventure, my mom isn’t. Prior to Junior my mom had another service dog, who was half border collie and as a result was very skittish. She was a lovely dog, but her personality made her challenging to take out in public, and as a result, my mom spent most of her time sitting at home.
Now my mom is trying to regain her fitness, but finds herself continually frustrated. She finds herself constantly thinking about times in the past when she could easily walk huge distances and effortlessly climb stairs and realizes she can’t do it anymore. She exercises and regularly trains with Junior so that they can go out more often, but progress is slow and maddening when she feels like she should be able to do more.
So, where am I going with this?
Well, the question is “How do you deal with life when results are slow?”
This is a question I had to wrestle with myself. When I started business as a coach, I never had a huge set of personal connections I could use to gain clients, and my knowledge of business and marketing was non-existent. I had to excruciatingly start from scratch.
For years, I’ve had very little evidence to show me I was on the right track or even remotely knew what I was doing, but I’ve been too passionate to quit. It’s been a lot of fumbling in the dark, and a lot of the time when I try something, I know I won’t see the results until months have passed.
Going through this process, I figured something out:
We measure our success too much by results.
A lot of the time we know we’ll be successful at something given enough time, and we don’t need to see the results to know that. In cases like these, you have to stop looking at “Was I able to climb the stairs by myself?” or “Did I get a client today?”. Instead, you need to ask a very basic question:
“Did I put in the time?”
I started adopting this philosophy maybe a month or two ago, and it’s worked wonders. For better or for worse, business is not something you can really fast track. In fact, it takes about six months, from when a client hears about you, for them to consider hiring you. This means I experience a lot of frustration where I try something new to get business and I see almost no response. It makes it easy to either overwork yourself or to give up and walk away.
Eventually, I got in this habit of redefining my success.
I focus on whether I am keeping up on my business affairs. Am I networking? Am I learning new things to improve my business? Am I writing? I recognize that as long as I am putting in the time each week, my business will keep getting bigger and bigger. This makes it a lot easier to improve my business, and I’ve seen results. It also gives me permission to stop if I’m overwhelmed, because I only have to keep my business moving. I’ll do more if I feel good, but sometimes just doing my writing for the week is enough, especially when life has been stressful.
So bottom-line, if you find yourself regularly frustrated by long term goals, try shifting your focus. Focus on putting in the time to make that goal eventually happen. If you focus on the time and not the big goal, it gets a lot easier. This reduces stress, makes it easier to stay with it, and some day get where you want to be.
Image provided by Ktr101 via wikimedia.org