I know how hard it can be to work for yourself. The rollercoaster, the self-doubt, the insane highs and lows, the glut of work, the lack of work. I have spent over 10 years working for myself, on my own. Trust me when I say that I am an expert in mental flagellation.
I don't know what it was exactly that triggered a shift in my thinking - perhaps it wasn't just one thing, possibly lots of yoga - but recently things have shifted. I feel more in control, as though I've ironed out the kinks in the rollercoaster. I still catch the creeping self-doubt and worry, but I now feel like a finely tuned ninja and I punch those thoughts away.
So what am I doing to have caused this shift?
1. Start EVERY day with gratitude
I know. Don't roll your eyes. This is said so often it is possibly bile inducing. But I decided that every single morning as I lay in bed, just before I open my eyes, I will list all the things I am grateful for. It was an Oprah Youtube clip I saw that got me onto this. She said: 'If you can't think of anything else to be grateful for, just start with your breath.'
The fact that you can breathe and you're not dead is always a good thing. Then work outwards from there. You have a warm duvet, a roof over your head, legs you are able to swing over the side of a bed, a full and busy day ahead, even the challenges you may have to face that day can be reframed as something to be grateful for - an opportunity to embrace.
This has genuinely shifted my thinking into a positive mindset instead of waking up full of worry or anxiety. And by doing it EVERY day, I am forcing it to become a habit. The more you practice something, the easier it gets. So try it.
2. Decide how you want to feel this year
This came from Danielle LaPorte's Desire Map: A Guide to Creating Goals with Soul. The premise of the book is to base your goals on how you want to feel (well that's my interpretation of it). And strangely I'd never done that before. I had always set goals based on what I thought I ought to do or what others may expect from me or what I expected of myself. But I'd never asked: 'How do you want to feel?' Once I figured that out (happy, free, successful, confident, balanced) it suddenly became far clearer the type of things I needed to focus on to feel that way. It meant setting goals or making plans were written with my desires and feelings first. And that's a marvellous thing.
3. I believed I could, so I did
This quote is regularly shared on the Female Entrepreneur Association Facebook group, which incidentally is the best investment hands down that I have made since working for myself. Besides providing an insane amount of practical value, FEA has an incredibly supportive group of women all trying to make their mark on the world. Last year I felt slightly overwhelmed and intimidated by what they were all achieving. I used to beat myself up and say: 'How come you're not there yet?' Even though I know that comparison is the single biggest crusher of small business spirit, I couldn't help myself.
But because I am boosted by feelings of gratitude and I've decided how I want to feel - one of which is feeling successful - I have mentally decided to believe it. I mean really believe it. I visualise how I will feel when I look back over the year and can say: Yes, I felt happy, free, successful, confident and balanced.
And because I believe it, it is already happening. Work is flooding in. I am choosing the work I want to do. I've felt more successful in the last week than I have over almost ten years! I feel happier, freer and more confident.
4. Love yourself
Women in particularly seem to spend an inordinate amount of time hating themselves. We're too fat. We're not good mothers. Our house isn't tidy enough. We drink too much wine. We're not successful enough. We aren't at the top of our profession or earn enough. Whatever. The list is endless. The shit we spout to ourselves EVERY. SINGLE. DAY would crush anyone. So I decided to stop. Sure I still fall into the trap (old habits die hard) but now when I hear my inner critic telling me I'm not good enough, I block it. I literally - sometimes out loud like a crazy lady - say: 'SHUT UP! I'm great just the way I am. Thank you very much.'
So there you have it. Four simple steps which you can try too. I know that I am still sitting on that rollercoaster. But somehow I feel more able to handle whatever twists, turns, highs and lows it will throw at me. And I just know that the year ahead is going to be incredible.
Challenge on: Tell me in the comments below or over on my Facebook page how you want to feel this year. And then have a think about how you can make that happen.