Getting Down to Business

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Work takes work, never more so than when you’re working for yourself. Awkward and difficult as it may be to have a boss checking in on you regularly, it’s actually far more complicated to have to check in on yourself, especially when you’re feeling lazy.

“Hey, Mike, make some calls and generate a little business, willya?”

“To heck with you, Mike, I made calls yesterday. You make some calls.”

“I would, except I’m trying to figure something out in Quicken.”

“Yeah, but I gotta write that blog post, remember?”

The above is a precise rendering of a real-life conversation that took place this morning after breakfast. It happened between me and, uh, the me in the mirror. Good news, though, eventually we reached a truce. I made some calls, then I worked through that issue with Quicken, and now I’m doing some blogging. Many hands make light work, as they say.

Being a sole proprietor can be unsettling, especially at the very beginning. For many of us, accustomed to a career of managing up and managing down, managing the self can be challenging. It might seem that the best approach in such a circumstance is to err on the side of force, and to push yourself harder than any boss ever would.

But here’s the thing: Trying to kick your own butt will only leave you off-balance. What’s needed is a sense of mindfulness, that wonderful and simple practice that keeps you aware of your emotions and automatic responses to external stimuli. There’s no complicated protocol to staying mindful; you just need to notice what you’re feeling, without judgment, and accept that those feelings are OK.

That’s not to say that you should cut yourself unreasonable slack. The calls still need to be made, the tools still need to be mastered, the blog posts still to be written, and the bills still need to be paid. Work is work, and whether you’re working on the business or in the business, it needs doing. But choosing to do so with mindfulness, and purpose, and, heck, even joy, is the reason why I launched myself on this journey.

You are on a journey, too, whether you’re an entrepreneur, an intern, a manager, a mentor… whatever. We’re all on a journey, and our own personal relationship with the work we choose helps define how we’ll feel as we move along the path.

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