Most people have a tape playing in their head. That tape shapes how we react. And sometimes that tape involves negative self-talk. When you run a business, you juggle a lot of activities. You may feel frustrated about the pace of your growth. You may feel guilty about your ability to balance your work and personal life. You may feel like you are unlucky. These emotions happen to everyone, even the most successful of entrepreneurs, not just you.
We all have distractions. The danger comes when negative self-talk affects your ability to execute. Stop beating up on yourself. Give yourself a cease fire! Here are some ideas on how to do it:
1. Spot negative self-talk. Margaret Moore writes in Psychology Today that “we have an internal ‘voice’ that comments on, and then determines, how we perceive our every circumstance.” Two people can react to the same situation entirely differently, one seeing an opportunity, the other defeat. “Self-limiting talk creates a self-fulfilling prophecy because we stop looking for solutions and assume defeat,” Moore states. If you find yourself feeling like something will not work out, you are in negative self-talk mode.
2. Add two words to your vocabulary. You’ve heard these two words before: “what if…” but you might not be using them as frequently as you should. For example, if part of your business is doing well and another part isn’t, you don’t have entertain thoughts of shutting down the underperforming unit. What if you looked for someone to buy it so you could focus on your strengths? Instead of continuously worrying about a money-losing headache, you can turn the situation into a money-making opportunity.
3. Make a daily “to do” list. Many entrepreneurs have a set of goals for the year. That’s usually part of a business plan that includes benchmarks for measuring achievement. Extrapolate key goals down to a daily task list, something that gives you the opportunity to check off items as you complete them. This will give you a sense of accomplishment which, in turn, invokes a desire for more accomplishment. It is a positive feeling that nurtures positive thinking and helps get rid of negative self-talk.
4. Share your story with other entrepreneurs. Being a business owner is a lonely position. Nobody in your company can share in the experiences you face: meeting payroll, monitoring cash flow, identifying where to invest for growth, managing staff. Sharing an issue with a peer helps you get perspective. They might have gone through your situation before and can offer guidance – or at the very least, commiserate with you. Sometimes, just knowing you’re not alone gives you the comfort and strength to overcome negative self-talk. I use a group called Vistage to serve as my sounding board. It is comprised of a dozen or so CEOs from non-competing businesses so we can exchange notes and learn from each other. The experience has opened my eyes to new ways of thinking and has helped get through challenges that at one time seemed daunting.
Think about the tape playing your head right now. If you spot signs of negative self-talk, give yourself some good luck: declare a cease fire today!