Belief Management: The Missing Ingredient

Article by Joan Friedlander“Joan, I’m working so hard and I’m not getting anything done!” I have heard some version of this frustrated cry from many an entrepreneur. It’s a common complaint voiced by those of us who sought the freedom to have complete authority over our schedules, only to find ourselves unwittingly shackled by old ways of operating.

Even though we are now independent professionals or business owners, our view of the world was shaped by the rules of our previous life. Most entrepreneurs came from jobs and daily schedules that dictated what to do and how to spend our time. Like long-term prisoners, we got very used to the daily regimen. We were told when to start work, take lunch, take breaks, and leave for the day. Managers, clients, customers, and operating manuals told us what to do and when to do it.

Then we got out on our own, dreaming of freedom, only to find that our days were filled with busyness from the very start. And we don’t have a clue as to how to do otherwise.

It often doesn’t matter how long you have been out on your own. It’s just as difficult to break outdated habits and beliefs when we do become financially successful. Why? Because whatever path to success we took, we now believe — or certainly worry — that it’s the only way. We are afraid to let go and try something new. Why? Perhaps because our beliefs have been making the decisions all along. And I’m not talking about beliefs based on trust, faith, passion, and prosperity!

Consider these possible beliefs:

  1. I’m easily distracted.
  2. I’m not an organized person.
  3. I do my best work under pressure.
  4. Really successful people start work early and end late.
  5. When you own your own business, you have to work long hours, especially at the beginning.
  6. If I keep enough balls up in the air, some are sure to land.
  7. Work hard… nose to the grindstone… (Arrgghh!)
  8. If I’m having fun it must not be right.

Or these complaints…

  1. I can’t take time off — I need the money.
  2. I don’t know how to say “no” to others (or to crappy work or to crummy clients).
  3. I never have enough time for myself.
  4. I’m responsible for everything in my business.
  5. In this bad economy… (fill in the blank)

With beliefs like these, it’s no wonder we find it difficult to figure out how to structure our day so that we achieve that seemingly elusive balance between success and personal wellbeing. Those two needs appear to be at odds with each other. It’s a rare few who have the good fortune to understand how to create a structure that effectively serves both needs.

The goal should be to make good decisions about how your spend your working time with confidence, so that you are effective, having fun, and leaving room for your personal needs and desires. The goal should be to make these decisions from a place of certainty, trust, and faith in yourself and the universe.

Here is an approach to start thinking about the impact your beliefs have on how you decide what it takes to be successful in business:

1. Pick a belief from the above list that isn’t one of yours. Imagine if it were yours. What impact do you think it would have on you? How would it impact your ability to make sound decisions about what it takes to be successful?

2. Now take a look at something you do believe — a belief or a habit that you can’t seem to shake. If you are having difficulty coming up with one, consider what you complain about to your friends, family, or colleagues. Think about a story you tell people over and over. (This part can make you squirm. It’s okay. No one’s looking but you.) You are looking for the ugly, wonderful truth.

3. Take the belief you identified above and make note of how it could be impacting your decisions, your ability to set boundaries, your willingness to take time off, or simply stop working before 5:00. (Yes, I meant before 5:00.)

4. Over the next week, take some time to note every time this belief “pops up” to influence your decisions.

Just taking these few simple steps can start to release the hold that outdated beliefs have on your decisions from this day forward — no kidding. The beliefs will no longer be in the background, hiding out but running the show. You now have a chance to loosen their grip on you.

Bonus step: If you want to go one step further, write down a new belief to replace the old belief. Review the new belief every day. Put it up on your computer as a screen saver (mine is “Abundance Girl”). Experience what the new belief feels like; look for evidence it’s true. If the old belief comes back to visit, say hello, bid it adieu, and then replace it again with the new belief.

Are you willing to let go of the beliefs that are holding you back and do whatever it takes to achieve the freedom and success you dreamed of when you started your business? If you are, you can.

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