If you're touched by the seven-year-itch--regardless of how long you've been in business--you may need some diversions to break up your day and add variety to your work and personal life. Here are some possible alternatives to the everyday:
- Get out. Network with peers, have lunch with clients, volunteer with associations--escape the cocoon that can be the home office and meet with others. Hearing tales of their successes and challenges will remind you that you're not alone.
- Meet with your confidants. Find those people you trust most and tell them what you're feeling--especially feelings of failure, anxiety or worry. Unloading your concerns and hearing the feedback of others can be therapeutic, professionally and physically.
- Get away. Take a vacation, even if it's only a weekend away at a local retreat. In fact, the best time to take a break is when business is slow. Leave the work at home. Let your mind rest so it can work again.
- Create a MasterMind group. First coined by author Napoleon Hill in Think and Grow Rich (Fawcett Books, $6.99), a MasterMind group is a core clutch of allies with whom you can share experiences, fears, challenges and new business ideas. In the best of times, it's a good way to bounce business ideas off trusted peers. In dire times, it's good for the spirit to vent feelings of angst. Just look for positive outcomes, and don't make it a belly-aching session.
- Be an entrepreneur. Tackle a new project, branch out into new areas, or create a new project that will re-energize your focus and revive your pioneering spirit.
- Create a Big Target Project. This is a long-term project, something that, once completed, will become a powerful reminder to your clients and peers of the businessperson you are. It can be a book, an audiocassette series, a new promotional package for your business, a new Web site, a proprietary research project about your industry, a new business--anything that can be done in 12 to 24 months. It has to be hands-on--you can't just pass it off to a subcontractor to create. Unlike the rote-ness of daily work, the Big Target focuses your energy on a single project and enlivens your spirit every day to complete it.
- Keep a diary. Instead of bearing the emotional strain of business cycles or feelings of depression, put your thoughts in writing. Reading and re-reading about your own emotions will reveal how out-of-balance you can be. This exercise will reveal a pattern of emotions and help lend perspective.
- Reassess your calling and purpose. Is what you're doing--either working from home or your profession itself--what you really want to be doing? Honestly re-examine and list those things that bring you joy, pride, satisfaction, fulfillment and a sense of success. Advises James Chan, "If you really don't want to do what you've been doing, don't be afraid to change your own life script."