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How I successfully avoided a meltdown

6 Mins

Having had both a health crisis and a stress crisis over last few weeks, I’ve had to stand back and re-evaluate where I am with things. I’ve listened and learnt from huge amounts of kind advice from friends, peers and Real Business readers.

I am therefore passing on some of what I have learnt:

10 tips to avoid going into meltdown

1. Recognize your own mental and physical health is essential for both you and the business – and looking after it always has to come first.
2. Remember, you are running your business to create the life that you want. If it is creating a life from hell, recognise that there is absolutely no point in doing it.
3. Ensure you have plenty of support. Your staff won’t do this, so get it elsewhere; from mentors, coaches, peers and fellow business people who know what it is like. Don’t under-prioritize time for this because you’re “okay” and haven’t got the time.
4. Be in control of your time. Some wise advice is to spend 15 per cent of time planning and the rest “doing”.
5. Ensure that you know the most important things that you aim to achieve each day and tick them off at the end of the day. The rest doesn’t matter and you won’t even remember it in a week’s time.
6. Exercise – not my strong point I have to say – but more people than not find it really helpful.
7. Adrenaline rushes are good for you. An adventurous sport or activity and pushing yourself against other boundaries can be a great release of tension and clearing of the mind.
8. Take time for yourself. Every day, ideally, even if it’s only half an hour. Let your mind completely clear. This is not watching something on TV by the way; that is a burying and avoidance technique. I’m talking serious mind clearing: be it hot baths, relaxation techniques or long walks (providing that you can control yourself and keep your mind clear while walking!). Just allow yourself to “be”, if you’ll excuse the hippy speak.
9. Control the booze – again, not a terribly strong point of mine! – but at least be aware that it is an avoidance technique, not a solution. And don’t count escaping down a bottle as proper “me” time.
10. Recognize when nothing is changing, and struggle on nobly. Many of us out there are struggling on, thinking that “if only we can get through it, things will get better one day”. Well, there comes a time when you have to recognize that if you keep doing the same things, they won’t! That’s when you evaluate and change.

If you do have a meltdown, here are ten ways to deal with it:

1. Don’t be afraid to admit it: you are only human.
2. Ask for help – us entrepreneurs are a stubborn, insular lot and it has amazed me to find that people are very happy to offer help and advice.
3. Don’t try and pretend you haven’t got to the end of your tether; wise up, face up to it, deal with it and stop!
4. Allow yourself a few days of just sleeping. Chances are that you’re exhausted and just need to shut down for a short period.
5. Spend a few days right away with your closest friends; it will remind you of the real “you”, the way you are when you’re not a stressed-out maniac.
6. Consider a coach or mentor. Coaches’ roles are more about pushing you to push yourself and at point of collapse, you don’t need to hear this approach. Like all other humans, you occasionally need support instead.
7. Really get to grips with the idea that there can be life without a business – only then can you assess the situation rather than continue a blind and desperate fight.
8. List how you would like life to be and re-plan your life to suit that. Chuck all previous ideas and pre-conceptions out of the window – you now know they didn’t work – and go for it. This is the moment for some seriously out of the box wild ideas.
9. Let your staff get on with it for a while and take the time you need – the good ones will shine and the weak ones will fail. At the end of your period of standing back, the world will not have ceased to turn and you will know a truer picture of your staff than in any other way. That alone will make your business a hundred times better when you return.
10. If you do decide to pick up the pieces – get rid of the dross work that has brought you to this pitch – get back to priorities and those are your customers and developing your business.

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James Lohan
Money traps: Where to look when your profit is evaporating
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