4 Tips for Entrepreneurial Survival During the Grieving Process
Everyone goes through personal setbacks in life, from divorces to deaths to natural disasters. Here's how to get through it.
When your personal life seems to be falling apart, it can be difficult to focus no matter how many times friends and family members tell you to, “Get over it.” But when you’re running a business, you can’t afford to indulge in the grieving process. People are counting on you to be present every day -- regardless of what is going on after hours.
Relationship setbacks can be one of the biggest challenges an entrepreneur will face. Whether you’re going through a divorce or the end of a long-term relationship, you’ll likely be forced to deal with some heavy emotions. You may even start your day with the best intentions, only to find yourself staring blankly at your computer screen for long stretches of time.
When work demands are piling up, and you don’t seem to be making progress on healing, here are a few things you can do.
1. Set a routine.
One of the most devastating parts of a breakup is the disruption in your daily routine. Those daily routines you shared together are suddenly gone, replaced by silence. The first order of business is to find a new normal that includes the way you get ready and come home from work each day.
You may also have to adjust the way you work. Instead of sitting down for eight to 10 hours straight, it may be better to do your work in short bursts, giving yourself emotional breaks. Use the Pomodoro Timer to force yourself to work in 25-minute increments before taking a break. During that break, give yourself permission to think about your personal problems in exchange for picking up your work again once the break is over.
2. Talk it out.
If people start telling you right away to “get over it,” don’t take this as an indication you shouldn’t talk about it. A recent study found that reflecting on your breakup extensively in those early weeks can be much more healing than trying to shove it aside. Find trusted friends or family members who will help you talk it out. If this makes you uncomfortable, a licensed counselor can be a great resource, even if you don’t feel you need psychiatric help.
Often the mere act of talking out your problems to a counselor can be more healing than any advice they can provide. While talking about your issues, try to be productive, focusing on things you can learn about your relationship. It can be tempting to spend time wondering what your ex is doing, but this only hampers the healing process.
3. Change your scenery.
If your breakup is recent, chances are you’re sitting at the same desk you occupied when you were still a couple. Simply being in that space can remind you of how your life was just a few weeks ago. If possible, pack up your laptop and mobile devices and head for a new workspace. You could rent a vacation home for a couple of weeks, work from a friend’s home or office, or rent co-working space.
You can return to your old space gradually as you feel better about things but in the meantime, you may find your productivity returns in new surroundings. Once your workday ends, find new hobbies and hangouts that will help you celebrate new beginnings.
4. Ask for help.
During the best times, entrepreneurs have far more work than they can handle on a daily basis. You may not be able to afford a full-time employee to help out, but part-time and freelance work can help you handle the overflow. A virtual assistant could help with responding to email, setting appointments, research, bookkeeping, putting together presentations and many other daily tasks.
If the hourly rate is too expensive, a college or high school student may be able to help out after school and during school breaks. The hourly rate will be lower and the students will have valuable experience for their resumes.
The end of a relationship is never easy, leading to weeks of grief and self-reflection. But for entrepreneurs, the mourning period can lead to lost productivity and angry clients. By finding ways to focus on work while still doing the necessary healing, entrepreneurs can recover more quickly and keep business moving forward.
Dan Steiner is an entrepreneur, Internet-marketing expert and author from San Luis Obispo, Calif. He currently serves as Co-Founder and CEO of Elite Legal Marketing, a company offering law firm web design and SEO for lawyers. He has been published in a number of media outlets, including HuffingtonPost, Inc and Yahoo, among many others.