How I Got Out of a Funk (and Saved My Business)
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When I was 19 years old, I delivered bread to grocery stores. But I dreamed of entrepreneurship -- writing, speaking, coaching and traveling the world while building a location-independent business -- and worked up the nerve to walk away from my steady paycheck. I took a few online courses, hired some coaches and teachers, and educated myself on the worlds of digital marketing and branding.
Over the next 17 years, I built my consulting and lifestyle business, Chaotic Organization, and authored multiple books on the topic of entrepreneurship. I learned countless lessons that helped me overcome difficult circumstances, self-limiting beliefs and times when it felt easier to quit. I wish I’d remembered these lessons at the beginning of 2016, my 18th year in business. Because that’s when I needed them the most. I went through a nasty breakup at the beginning of that year. I thought I could focus on my business, but the truth is, my personal life sidelined me. It started slowly at first -- I missed some deadlines for clients; I canceled some strategy sessions. Then it got worse.
Depression, anger, frustration and a lack of motivation took over, and I stopped communicating with friends and business colleagues. I was living in Medellín, Colombia, for a long-term consulting contract and didn’t have access to family or friends, who were in Milwaukee. I shut myself off from the world and spent most days binge-watching Breaking Bad on Netflix.
My business suffered, my professional relationships collapsed and I was told that my attitude was repelling people. I lost hope. After three months of this, my best friend, Chaka, was worried enough that he flew to Colombia to check on me. The very first thing he said was that I was destined for great things, but I was ruining all the progress I had made. I realized he was right -- and it became the spark I needed. I started taking some very deliberate steps after he left, working to get back on track and even grow my business.
First things first: exercise. I gained 60 pounds in my slump, and the weight gain was defeating, and affected my energy level. After my friend pointed this out (ouch!), I stopped all the junk food and started making healthy choices. I forced myself to wake up at 5 a.m. to exercise six days a week, which gave me time to think, process my thoughts and feelings and plan my day.
After the first month, I lost 20 pounds, and my energy level was through the roof. I was accomplishing more and more each day, and my income grew along with my business opportunities. After my workouts, I spent an hour meditating, which helped me gain control of my emotions. In my old life, pre-funk, I worked nonstop. By slowing down and focusing, I felt I could see things more clearly.
Meditation allowed me to listen to myself and others, which helped me close deals and improve relationships with clients. I also started keeping a journal, which complemented my new meditation habit. I’d get brutally honest about my life and business. I wrote things I was afraid to tell other people -- and the truth did set me free. Getting that morning routine in order did wonders for my focus, and I’d spend the beginning of my workday on activities that would produce income: call old clients, follow up with potential new clients that had reached out through social media and send proposals to local business owners. It wasn’t long before my income doubled.
It’s now been six months -- and counting -- since I recovered from the personal pain that was holding me back. It hasn’t been an overnight process, but getting honest about my problems and working diligently to solve them has taught me that I can overcome any difficult situation that life throws at me, and that I can always heal and grow -- in both life and business.