You know that feeling. Life seems fine one moment and the next thing you know, the rug has been pulled out from under you. You’re flat on your butt and wondering “what the heck just happened?!”
Curveballs come in all shapes and sizes. From unexpected illnesses to job losses, the death of loved one or unwelcome financial surprises, mental health struggles or even family drama. What these circumstances all have in common is this: they can seriously throw us off our game. As we wrestle through big emotions and rough ripple effects, it can be hard to keep up with our day-to-day responsibilities—especially as a business owner.
I’ve been thrown my share of curveballs, friends. And I’ve learned a thing or two about bouncing back. And I have good news—while none of us would likely choose difficult paths in life, the more you endure trials, the stronger you’ll come out. And the more you practice healthy coping mechanisms, the better you’ll be at staying above water. Here are a couple of practices that have served me well as a business owner—and all-around human—during rough patches.
- Talk about it.
I can be pretty stubborn about opening up. Sometimes it feels easier to just soldier on and not let people in. But if I can share anything with you that might help you weather storms, it’s this: There is so much power and healing in sharing what’s going on with others. That doesn’t mean you have to tell the whole world. But find a trusted friend or two, and let them know what you’re wrestling through. You’ll be amazed at how lighter your load will feel.
And when it comes to your business, sharing (at least a bit) with clients and your team can be really helpful, too. I’m a driven, high-achiever who likes to bring her A-game at all times. But that doesn’t always serve me well when I’m fielding curveballs. Keeping up the appearance that all is well and good when it’s not comes at a cost. And I’d never expect that of my clients—so why should I think they expect that of me? Letting clients and colleagues know that I might have to delay a deadline or offload something because of painful life circumstances is an authentic approach to take which can actually strengthen relationships in the long run. After all, we’re all human. And we’ve all been through our share of rough stuff.
- Ask for help.
Asking for help does not come easy for many of us. It can make us feel weak or vulnerable when in actuality, it’s usually the strongest thing you can do. Making peace with the fact that you can’t possibly do it all (especially when times are tough) and reaching out for help can bring sweet relief—as well as necessary assistance. Here are some examples:
- Hire an assistant for a season
- Pay a babysitter for a few hours
- Hire a housekeeper
- Ask someone from your team to pitch in more than usual
- Pay a teenager to run errands or cut your lawn
- Ask a fellow business owner or colleague to lend a hand
- See a counselor as you wade through struggles
Whatever the case, surrounding yourself with people who can lend a hand and ease your burdens just makes sense. And chances are, it’ll help you get back on your game faster, too.
3. Find accountability.
When life gets crazy, we often stop taking great care of ourselves, at our own expense, and often our businesses, too. Maybe we’re not sleeping as much as we should, or eating terribly, not getting exercise, binging Netflix or drinking too much (or perhaps all of the above—I speak from experience here). Perhaps important work tasks are going undone. Or maybe there are steps we should be taking to deal with the hard circumstances that we keep putting off.
No matter the situation, asking someone to help hold you accountable can be a lifesaver. It wasn’t until the last few years of my life that I even knew this was a thing. But now I can’t imagine my days without an accountability partner (or two) in place. Having someone to check in with you on things, or ask how you’re doing in a certain area, can be the difference between making progress or staying stuck.
4. Get away by yourself.
Finding time to be alone might feel indulgent or difficult when life’s crazy, but this can be an absolute lifeline. Trust me, I know. I took my very first personal retreat in the midst of a crisis—and it was the best possible thing I could have done at the time. Even if you can’t pull off an overnight, spending at least a few hours alone at a coffee shop to gather your thoughts, reflect, and recharge a bit can make all the difference. (Want to learn more about planning a personal retreat? Download my free retreat toolkit!)
5. Give yourself grace.
As a recovering perfectionist, this does not come easy to me. I have really high expectations of others—and even more so of myself. And I tend to keep those big expectations in place, even when trying times hit hard. During a recent rough patch, a friend said to me, “you know, you don’t have to be superwoman all the time. You’re allowed to be human sometimes.” Ouch. There’s so much truth here though.
Listen to the voice in your head for a moment. Is she nagging and critical? (Usually, she is.) Is she berating you for all the things you’ve done wrong, or haven’t done at all? You need to gently remind her (and yourself) that you’re going through something really hard, and that this is a season in which there will likely be dropped balls, high emotions, and less-than-perfect words and behaviors.
Flip the situation and pretend for a moment that you are someone else in your life that you love. Would you be harsh and demanding if he or she were in the middle of a crisis? Of course, not. You’d be loving and kind, and help in any way you could. That’s the kind of grace you need to extend yourself—at all times really—especially in the midst of a trying time.
Remember, this is a season. You’ll get through it, and come out on the other side stronger and with more resilience than you can imagine. In the meantime, take care of you.