Why BUSINESS is not about BUSYNESS

Just imagine if your business was like a formula 1 pit team: how successful do you think you would be?  Would you be the team manager, calmly orchestrating the events from the safety of the pit wall, or would you be the one running round, doing every job to make sure it is done well, getting in everybody's way but feeling good because you are busy helping out, with the end result that the car goes out late and with only 3 wheels?

One of the biggest problems for business owners is that we convince ourselves that being busy is what business is all about and that as long as we are giving our all, then there is not much else that we can do.  While we all know that we need to work smarter rather than harder, the reality is that life always throws us curve balls and we end up reacting to the environment we find ourselves in and going back to our old ways.

The reason for this stems from why we got into business in the first place. When you are starting a business there is a real buzz from getting things off the ground, everything is new and exciting and the dreams that you set off with are still clear in your mind. At this stage you have to work hard, because there is nobody else to do the work and if you don’t do it, it doesn't get done. Unfortunately, herein lies the root of our future problems.

When we are busy like this we usually end up running on high amounts of adrenaline. Pumped up, working long hours and overcoming great challenges and with every win we have we make imprints in our subconscious mind, linking working hard with success. These imprints are made deeper by the people we tend to meet, who are usually similar to us, doing the same things and ending with the same results. The downside is that we actually become workaholics.

Just like an alchoholic, we become addicted to the buzz that we get doing what we know is bad for us, and the last person to realise what is happening is the person with the problem.  Also like an alcoholic, it is the people around us that suffer the most. Family are neglected, friends become acquaintances, and worse of all the people that are taken on in the business to provide support are driven away if they do not want to behave in the same way or actually become workaholics as well, which only goes to reinforce the bad habits set by the business owner.

So if you are a workaholic, what do you do?  Well, the steps are similar to addressing any addiction.  The first step is always being aware that you are a workaholic.  The signs are quite clear and if you need help to see them ask somebody close to you to be honest with you. Some of the more obvious ones are:

  • struggling to sleep at night because your mind does not stop;
  • getting stressed and losing your temper at relatively minor things;
  • starting things and not finishing them;
  • working late at night or at the weekend when those around you seem to be off enjoying themselves;
  • finding yourself being accused of not listening to other people.

Once you are aware that there is a problem you then have to take ownership of the situation. There is no point in blaming anybody apart from yourself.  You can’t blame your team, the bank, the government, the economy or your customers. Where you are is a direct result of the decisions and actions you have made to this point. The good thing is that where you will be in the future will be a direct result of the decisions and actions you take now and in the future. The only thing is will you do as you have always done and get what you always got or will you try something different?

So when you are clear that you are in control and can act differently and get a different result what can you actually do to help you wean yourself off your workaholism. The first thing is to be really clear what sort of life you want to lead: how many hours per week, days per year you want to work, what will your team do for you and what would you rather be doing instead of working all the time?

This is really important because if you don’t have something you like better, you will always end up doing what you are doing now, even if deep down you hate it. Now you know what you want, decide the time scale you want this to happen and plan out what needs to happen each quarter in order for you to get there.

Remember, it takes 21 times to create a good habit and the longer you have been a workaholic, the longer is will take you to change your many bad habits.  Finally, be honest with yourself and admit it when you need help and embrace it, other people will see you fall back into your old busyness habits far sooner than you do.

So go on, rev up your business and get yourself out of the pits!

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