The 5 Stages of Entrepreneurial Chaos
If you are an entrepreneur you have probably experienced chaos and overwhelm. In fact, pretty much anyone on the face of the planet likely has at least once in their life.
As I always say, the key to change is AWARENESS.
Stage One – Denial
When we as entrepreneurs initially sense there just may be some chaos and overwhelm in our personal world and business, we often deny that it is happening. “No, no, I’m fine” we say to those close to us that sense something is amiss. “I’ve totally got this” we say to ourselves. “I just need to nail down a routine.” Or maybe you keep thinking you just have to sit down and focus, eliminate the distractions and everything will easily fall into place.
Stage Two – Frustration, even Anger
Entrepreneurs are very often going at it solo. Especially if you are a coach, healer, or other service provider. We are often not in an office environment, we are our own boss, maybe even a boss to others but they are likely virtual employees. Basically we are alone with our thoughts.
Once we are past the denial stage, frustration and even anger start to set up camp. We start getting pissed off at ourselves for not moving along fast enough or for apparently being unable to actually focus and get settled in that elusive routine. There must be something wrong with us! “Other people do it why the fuck can’t I?”
Feelings of denial are still present at this stage. Negative self-talk and questioning why you are doing what you are doing, start to make their appearance more frequently. Your awareness of this will probably piss you off. After all, we can’t be thinking about this ‘negative’ stuff. If you keep that negativity reel running a loop in your head the possibility of giving up surfaces. And then THAT pisses you off because you have a vision for fuck sake!
You may even start getting angry or resentful toward other entrepreneurs. Those other people are getting paid a shit-ton to offer similar things to what you have. They must be lucky. THEY were at the right place at the right time. THEY know the right people. THEY had money to begin with.
You have a dream and you KNOW you are brilliant at what you do! But you are angry and frustrated that it’s not taking off in the time or way you want it to. GRRRRRR.
Stage Three – Bargaining
At this point you’ve been in denial and then gotten pissed off at yourself and maybe even others. Now you have decided that dammit, you are going to fix this shit! You are going to get control of this if it’s the last thing you do!
You talk to the Universe (Spirit, God, whatever you choose) and start bargaining. “If you just give me a break I’ll do X, Y, Z.” You know you have to put on your big girl (or boy) pants and get shit done.
You go through the ‘what ifs’. What if you had done that FB ad? What if you had personally contacted everyone you know? What if you had said yes to that opportunity? Things would be different if you had made different choices, right? Maybe.
So you are taking back control and using all your bargaining chips and reasoning. There just has to be some sort of give and take right?
You’ve got this!
Stage Four – Doubt
Yes, this is a bit of a roller coaster. You’ve now tried to take back control. You’ve bargained with the Universe. You’ve identified your ‘what ifs’ and may have even gone back to rectify what you think you should have done before.
But it just isn’t sticking. Your mind is too jumbled. Your thoughts aren’t really clear. You have a foggy idea of what you would like to do or create but the enthusiasm isn’t there.
You start to doubt your path, your message, your voice. Maybe you should just go back to a stupid corporate job that sucks every ounce of energy and drive that you have right out of you.
Who are you to be an entrepreneur? Nobody wants what you have to offer. Those super-successful people know more than you. You need to take another course or class THEN you’ll have this down. THAT’S IT! Another program that teaches you what you already know and then success will be yours!!!
You start comparing your life to the perception you have of others’ lives and success levels. If you didn’t have the responsibilities you have you could do it to. If you weren’t a single parent, if you weren’t the bread-winner, if you didn’t have aging parents to care for. And the list goes on.
The good ol’ shiny object syndrome and comparison-itis trap.
Stage Five – Chaos & Overwhelm
The stages above could happen within hours, days or weeks. We all have our ups and downs. Sometimes as we go through this journey we get an awesome period of motivation and positivity. But once the chaos has begun this is often temporary.
Unless we get help.
Overwhelm sends entrepreneurs into a tail-spin. Things begin to snowball. One typically simple task begins to seem larger and more daunting. Procrastination sets in because it all seems like too much.
When procrastination sets in, everything definitely begins to be too much because things start to pile up and inevitably momentum is lost. Confusion about how to move forward and the disorder around your thoughts, plans and goals can be overwhelming.
And unfortunately, overwhelm can be crushing.
However, the desire to keep going and stick with the dream is very real. As an entrepreneur we put a lot of time, energy, and often resources into our vision. We BELIEVE in what we are doing!
It’s just that the chaos spinning in your head eventually leads to creative paralyzation and shut down.
And there you have it.
HOW CAN THIS BE FIXED?
The best and quickest way to overcome this is to recognize and acknowledge the early signs. The sooner you act the better.
ASK FOR HELP! We often think we are the lone soldier, a one-woman show. We are the go-to figure-outer of all things. We may feel like our pride is being squashed if we ask for help.
GET OVER THAT SHIT!
The sooner you ask for help the better. And it’s best to ask for it from people you know can relate to what you are going through. Many if not all entrepreneurs go through this at one time or another. So whatever tips and tricks they have learned they are usually more than happy to share.
Hire a coach. I don’t know any coaches who don’t have a coach of their own. Coaching is a crazy-valuable service. There are coaches in every area of expertise that you can think of. Whatever area you are struggling with there is a coach for that. Ask for recommendations from people in your circles.
I work with my clients to take them from chaos and overwhelm to clarity, action & momentum.
We start with the foundation, the 90-Minute Chaos Intervention Session. I offer this as a one-off session but it is part of my packages as the initial session once a client decides to work with me. Two heads are better than one and when we get together to lay out everything in your head onto paper, brilliant stuff begins to happen! Clarity forms, steps are planned, action is taken and of course momentum is gained.
Clients that take advantage of this stand-alone session walk away with a workable, living outline that they can edit at any time. This outline encompasses as much as we can get down in 90 minutes. We prioritize everything and work on the number one priority first so we can nail down all the parts and pieces and set deadlines to get it all done. This process also identifies what can be delegated if you have people on your team.
When clients work with me for a month or more, they also have the accountability factor. We check in via phone and continue with the outline, working on current and future projects, on an ongoing basis. I also offer email support in between calls. Shit Gets Done!
If you truly believe in what you are doing you absolutely should give it your all. You don’t want to go through life wondering what it would have been like if you had pursued that dream.
Get help early on to prevent the chaos and overwhelm. As they saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”