As busy entrepreneurs and business leaders, many of us are constantly searching for tips & tricks (a.k.a. strategy) that will help us run our business and our lives in a way that feels good - but doesn't hurt our income.
There is a TON of advice out there:
• remove email from your phone
• always respond to email within 48 hours
• spend less time on social media
• get up at 4 a.m.
• don't get up at 4 a.m.
• start paying yourself today
• you can't pay yourself for at least a year
• have a 4 hour work week
• outsource overseas
• pay your employees well
• spend less money on coffee
• kondo-your house/office/car/friend list/clients
• never use your phone in bed
You get the idea. And it can be SUPER hard to know which advice you should follow and even whether it will work!
Here’s the thing I have learned. There is no one way to make it work for you. You have to get clear on what your values are and make decisions that support them. I promise it's that simple!
Because I know that my core values for my business are freedom, reliability, respect, and vision, it’s easy for me to apply those to trying to decide what advice to try. I also know that I want my clients and collaborators to feel certain things when they work with me: supported, abundant, and like they are getting more than they are paying for.
So when I see a post that says, “all the successful people start their day at 4 a.m.,” I know that I don’t have to believe that narrative. I can take just a few seconds (while reading the article) to apply that logic to my core values. I also know the following things to be true: I have to drive my kiddo to school at 8 a.m. and pick her up at 4 p.m., I need about 2 hours every day to have coffee and conversation with my mom as well as read the news before my brain is ready to function on work projects, and I require 7 hours of sleep to do the things I want to do.
Getting up at 4 a.m. would mean that I have to go to bed at 9 p.m. That cuts into my time with Emma which goes against my value of freedom. It also means that I would be just ready to jump into the get-shit-done part of my day about the time I would have to stop to take her to school. That would lower my own productivity which would make me less able to provide the quality of service I feel is important for my clients.
Not only does being able to quickly analyze this keep me from getting sucked into the vortex of comparison paralysis and second-guessing, it also keeps me from wasting time looking for an article that says the opposite in order to assure myself that the way I am doing things is okay too.
I have seen person after person share that removing their email from their phone was the best thing they ever did. Many of them even urging others to do the same. While I’m a HUGE fan of people sharing what works for them and love the vulnerability that requires this, I do not like the feeling that there must be one way to do things!
Is creating boundaries in your business and life a necessary part of running a successful values-based business? Yes. Do the boundaries I create have to be the same ones you create? Absolutely not.
For me, personally, having my email on my phone means that I can always be responsive to my clients. I can be spending time with my family or friends and still be sure I don’t miss something that needs to be handled. Is it hard to not answer every single email? Yes. I had to create a system that works for me - I turned off the notifications and I check email when I have the time to thoughtfully look at it. Things that don’t need to be addressed immediately stay in my inbox until the next time I’m in “work mode,” and things that do get handled.
This allows me to enjoy the time I’m not working and provide the level of service I want to my clients.
It’s great to have access to all of the tools + tricks that are helping forward-thinking visionaries run their businesses and change the world. It’s also great to have the skills to apply our values to those things and decide if they will help us in our own businesses.
The other thing this practice has helped me with is not being judgy of people who operate differently than I do. In the past, when I read a book or article by someone I wanted to learn from, and they had one thing in there that went against my own values, it was easy for me to dismiss the whole thing! Now, being able to stop and breathe into the fact that it’s perfectly wonderful that they found something that works for them and I don’t have to also incorporate that into my business or life allows me to listen to other things they are saying that might work for me!
The next time someone says, “you must do XX in order to YY…” or “all successful people do ZZ…,” I encourage you to apply your values to those suggestions and decide for yourself if working with a clean desk v messy desk or never working on Sundays is that thing you’ve been looking for or not.