Thanks to Danielle O’Brien for this guest blog article.
Over the years I have helped many women-owned small business CEOs work smarter, not harder, to grow themselves and their business to where they want to be. For many of these women, they are not striving to be the biggest company or service offering out there, but absolutely are looking to become the best version of themselves. Often this is their biggest worry – am I enough? These women have sacrificed much to get to where they are today whether that sacrifice is social, financial, romantically, etc. But nothing has prepared them for this new curveball life has thrown their way.
As small business owners, they wear many hats. They often run their own operations, human resources, accounting, marketing, training, sales and more. Some of these services can be contracted out once finances allow but for the most part many are doing it all and spreading themselves rather thin in “normal times”. With the current state of our fight against COVID, new hats are being added to an already full hat rack; the rack is ready to collapse.
Coaches have seen the changes in their clients rather drastically. Wearing all those hats while adding in the new responsibilities of home schooling, virtual connections, paying rents on building they cannot occupy, not making money when deemed non-essential or being overworked in industries deemed essential, navigating PPP loans, unemployment regulations, and re-openings, etc. is truly cause for concern. Clients are not alone when experiencing lack of sleep, new anxieties, overwhelming uncertainties, and more.
As a coach this is a tough space to sit with them in. In fact, it is excruciating. Our own businesses have suffered so we are able to empathize, but more importantly we are trained to listen. While listening over the last two months I have learned that many are living in a place of constant worry and lack of self-care. So, I have learned to ask a few especially important questions of my clients. If you are reading this post and experiencing any of the above worries, I encourage you to do this self-coaching exercise whenever you find yourself on the worry train:
- What is true about your worry? Often, we are worried about things that may not even be a truth in the moment. It is a future concern. It is important to distinguish this and give your brain a clear line between what is the actual situation you are in and what is a hypothetical situation. It is not to say you shouldn’t be planning and forecasting, but set aside time to do this and do not let it take up space in your head all day.
- What is helpful about your worry? Often the thinking that is leading you down the rabbit hole of worry is not helpful or productive. Ask yourself this question to stop it in its tracks! Take away the power it has over you. If it is not helpful, do not give it another thought. If it could be helpful write it down for when you will spend time planning and forecasting, so it is accounted for.
- What is one thing you can do today to change your trajectory (or lessen your worry)? Many of my clients feel they are doomed. They are heading to failure. They are destined to hit rock bottom, or nearly have. It seems incomprehensible to turn the ship completely around after such devastating losses in two months’ time. So, this question encourages just one change you can make that could at least right the way. Baby steps, baby steps.
- What have you done for yourself today? If you are unable to answer one simple thing – a walk, a 15-minute break in the sun, meditate, watching a favorite show, cooking your favorite meal, etc. this is a problem. If you are only spending your days wearing your work and home hats, then promise to give yourself a break. Many of us were gung-ho in March to stick to a wellness routine and have fallen off the wagon. It is time to get back on and only you can make this happen.
I hope that you find these self-coaching questions helpful in getting you through those times where anxious thoughts and worry are taking over. You are doing it all – you are wearing many hats – you only have so much to give. Find out if your new worry is true or helpful and figure out what the one step might be that could right the ship. Say it out loud. Own it. And, for goodness sakes, do not throw away the cap of self-care – it is by far the most important.
Danielle O’Brien is a certified professional coach and the founder of CORALIFE Coaching – Career Oriented and Life Enhancement Coaching. Based out of Boston, MA, Danielle specializes in helping small to medium sized, women-owned businesses, get out of their own way and be their best selves. You can find her online: