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Bite-Size Chunks of Wisdom

Dear Diary: I'm a Frustrated, Overwhelmed Business Owner. Now What?

Posted by Jackie Nagel, Synnovatia

Have you seen the 1976 movie, Network, staring Peter Finch? It’s the story of a TV news anchor, Howard Beale, who has a mental breakdown while on-air. He rises from his chair, ignores the teleprompter, and instructs his viewers to open their windows and yell, “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not gonna take this anymore.”

I’ve had days like that, have you? In fact, that’s the impetus to write about it.

Many business owners have one too many days wrought with frustration, anger, overwhelm, and annoyance. Yet, few talk about it or, worse yet, identify the cause so it can be corrected.

The Mood

frustrated business ownerI don’t’ know what caused it. Maybe I woke up on the wrong side of the bed. Perhaps it was something I ate. Although I couldn’t identify the cause, I was angry…and it was mostly at myself.

It was Monday. I felt overwhelmed and behind on my goals and plans…and the day hadn’t even started. Frankly, I wanted to go back to bed, pull the covers over my head, and pray that this crushing feeling of overwhelm magically disappeared.

Alas, it didn’t. So, I began to work through my angst.

I listened to relaxation tapes, read over my goals, took note of my achievements, and began to talk myself in, around, under, and through my annoyance and resentment. And, as is frequently recommended, I got busy.

Prioritizing activities based on goals (as I’ve often touted) wasn’t cutting it. I hunted high and low to see what sort of action I could throw myself behind. With a folder chocked full of tax documents staring me down, I dug in with the tenacity of a dog with a bone.

As the day progressed, my hissy fit began to ease. I moved easily from one account to another and another with ease—until a simple mileage log turned things upside down.

How could something as simple as a mileage log taunt me?

Unable to locate my digital mileage record, or anything resembling a backup, I set out to recreate my whereabouts by going through my calendar—day-by-day, week-by-week, month-by-month. Before I knew it—there it was again.

As I relived every day of the previous year, a storm began to brew. Given the diagnostic rear view glance into my business, it was a real eye-opener!

My calendar—jam-packed with commitments, meetings, agreements, coffee and dinner dates, exercise, business development, marketing, time with family…in a nutshell, was disappointing. It was certainty not what I would have suspected my calendar to resemble.

No wonder I was frustrated.

The Cause

In true coaching style, I questioned myself through discovering the cause of a calendar asymmetrical to my personal and business desires and goals. What I discovered was not thrilling—but it was true.

Although I desired to be a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants business owner, the truth is subconscious beliefs, anxiety, and needs drove much of my calendar—not the values, mission, passion, and goals I had hoped.

Instead of being sprinkled with goals, my calendar was littered with obligations—dates loaded with “shoulds, oughts, and have tos.” And, if that wasn’t enough, I was a “yes” waiting to happen.

It was icing on a malfunctioning almanac.

The Resolution

solution to business overwhelmBefore the sun set upon the horizon, I resolved to right size my chronology—to put myself, my dreams, and my desires back in the captain’s chair.

I dusted off my core values and posted them prominently as a reminder that achievement is built upon values—not obligations.

I created operating principles as a stopgap measure against the hair trigger “yes.”

I revisited my goals, removing all “oughts, shoulds, and have tos” from the roster.

I practiced saying “no” without explanation.

I prepared myself for any possible storm originating from without (i.e., peer pressure, non-acceptance, sarcasm) or within (i.e., guilt) when I no longer comply with expected behavior.

The Progress

How are things going thus far? It’s too new to say with any certainty.

I suspect there will be slip-ups and set backs—resets and reboots. That’s what business (aka life) is about anyway, isn’t it? But, I do no one thing for sure….

Like Howard Beale, “I’m as mad as hell (at myself), and I’m not gonna take this anymore.”


How about you? Can you relate to Howard Beale and his unpredicted outburst? Or, my angst and frustration over a misaligned calendar? What do you do to make sure your calendar reflects your goals?

Tags: Performance Attitude

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Synnovatia is a strategic coaching firm that is detailed and knowledgeable about business. i have a small business that grew from $150K to $750K because of the goal setting and resources that Synnovatia provided. It saves me years of learning on my own.

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