How To Stop Losing Your $@#! and Become a Recovering Control Freak

Learning how to delegate and loosen your grip on control is key if you want to grow your business.
How To Stop Losing Your $@#! and Become a Recovering Control Freak
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Guest Writer
Founder and CEO of A Life With Health
5 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

When it comes to your business, it’s hard not to be a control freak — after all, running the business and the business’ success comes down to the decisions you make. In fact, relinquishing control is consistently considered one of the hardest challenges for entrepreneurs. However, the stress from the need to control can make it impossible for an entrepreneur to think straight, make creative decisions, or find mental wellness in their day-to-day. 

Controlling business owners also struggle with delegating tasks to other team members, meaning there’s more on their plate than necessary. And usually, being a control freak and perfectionism go hand in hand. At a certain point, the perfectionism needs to be compromised so you can get your work done.

But, how do we release control when we care so much? Here is a step-by-step process to loosen your grip. Because your business and your well-being depend on it. 

1. Understand how much your need to control is hurting you

It’s hard to make a change unless you know how your current behavior is impacting you. Tracy Litt, a certified mindset coach and author of Worthy Human, notes that the best thing you can do in this self-diagnosis process is to, “Realize the depths of your particular control addiction and your unique emotional habit of control. Dig into what it costs you, how it impacts your feelings, and how it lives in the tension of your neck and body.” 

Related: 7 Rules for Entrepreneurs to Give Up Control and Delegate Effectively

Digging into this need to control is admittedly uncomfortable, but once you identify the root cause, you’ll be better able to release it. “Your energy when you are in control is closed off and tight,” Litt explains. “All your letdown and frustration is a byproduct of your attempt to control things in a world where this is impossible.”

Talk with your employees, business partners, and close friends to see if they have observations on how your need to control shows up. And, ask them to help you hold yourself accountable in further identifying these areas. 

2. Create a plan to slowly start letting go of control

You can’t go from white-knuckling all your tasks and priorities to letting go overnight, so slowly loosen your grip by choosing a few areas of your business to let go first. This usually goes well if you can identify members of your team to delegate tasks to or bring in a highly recommended agency to take over some areas of your business. 

Get real: what are the areas of your business that you don’t excel in? Just because you do them well doesn’t mean someone else can’t do them better. And, if you’re investing time in an area you don’t excel in, you’re probably spending much more time on it than an expert would. 

Related: 5 Tips to Master the Delicate Art of Delegation for Control Freaks

Allee Williams, founder and strategic director of social media agency Leia Rising, recommends social media as one of the first facets of your business to hand off to someone else - so you can focus on managing. “Allocating a budget for a creative agency that aligns with your vision and can focus expertise into bringing your brand to life through social media is key to success,” she noted. “Social media is still an emerging market. It is always evolving, which means this is a perfect place to automate and lean on those focused on the pulse of the marketing while you focus on capturing your market.” 

Which other areas of your business require significant creative effort or busywork? Start to hand one at a time off to a team member, assistant, or independent contractor. As they begin to impress you with the work they can do, you’re likely to start to release the need to control even more.

3. Prioritize self-care

Finally, addressing the core problem that may be causing the incessant need to control is important. In an article for UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Magazine, Christine Carter shares that “the desire for control is a form of perfectionism,” and that the key to alleviating it is to promote self-acceptance. 

What is it that makes you feel as though you need to be perfect, or do everything perfectly? There are a number of ways to identify the answer to this question: talk it out with a close friend or talk with a counselor. (There are plenty who specialize in helping business owners.) Then, establish self-care routines that will help you work through the heart of the problem. Allocate the time you would usually spend on the task you’ve now delegated to working out. Take more frequent breaks from work, get outside and take a walk, or get a tea break without technology. 

Related: 4 Tasks Successful Leaders Should Delegate

The need to control is also a habit, so be kind to yourself as you start to let go. You’re breaking a long-earned habit, which can make the entire endeavor seem more intimidating. But one release at a time, you’ll find that your best work is waiting on the other side of the need to control.

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