When you're tired, drained or overwhelmed (or all three if you're feeling like me almost a year into the pandemic), your prefrontal cortex or 'thinking' brain is running on energy reserves. This means you don't have the energy to innovate and do things differently; you don't have the energy to make the right decisions, to overcome the temptation to give in to bad habits (e.g. time-wasting activities like social media), to notice opportunities for improvement, or to get excited or enthused about the future. The little energy that you do have is reserved for just getting you through the day, which means working on autopilot and reverting to everyday habits.
With this in mind, is it any wonder that a lot of us are feeling a little lost? Is it a surprise that we don't feel the passion for our work as we once did? If this sounds like you, you are by no means alone. This article aims to help you figure out what's draining you the most so that you can take action and put yourself back in the driving seat again. In other words, this is how to refind your passion so that you can grow your small accountancy firm.
*This blog is an extract from our virtual workshop – How to get your head back in the game for growth. To listen to the full recording, download it for free here.
3 steps to re-find your desire
1. Where are you out of alignment?
To get yourself back on track, you first have to figure out what's got you off track. What's causing you to worry the most at the moment? Are there certain thoughts or tasks that are draining your energy? What are you most stressed about? Is there an area of your life that you've been wanting to improve (e.g. getting more sleep)?
To help you figure out where you are out of alignment (and to re-find your desire to grow your accountancy firm), think about what really motivates you. Out of the 4 freedoms, which resonate with you the most?
- Cash: to fund your current or desired lifestyle
- Time: to have the time to spend on the stuff which makes you happy
- Control: to be able to choose what you work on and who with
- Mind: to be free from stress, anxiety, fear or depression
Mark yourself out of 10 in each (where 10 is I have lots of this freedom and 0 is I have very little of this freedom). Give yourself a score both for now and where you want to be in the future.
By reminding yourself of the things that matter the most to you (e.g. funding your desired lifestyle), this can help to give you the kickstart you need to take action. Yes, we are feeling drained and overworked and maybe we've forgotten the reasons we are doing what we do. If we remind ourselves of our desires, however, this will help us to change our perspective. For example, being 'stuck at home' is an opportunity to save more and hopefully get you to that desired lifestyle sooner!
2. Prioritise self-care
Self-care tends to be underestimated when it is actually the foundation for everything. Think of the foundation of a house. It's one of the longest steps of the building process: building it, cementing it, and waiting for it to set. It may take a while, but that's because it's essential. Everyone knows that the foundation of a house is crucial for supporting the building structure. What many don't know, however, is that it is also absolutely essential for protecting the property from groundwater.
What we mean by this analogy is this. While self-care is important for supporting our structure (our mind and our body), it is also essential for helping us cope with stress. Much like the foundation of a house, it acts as our dam, helping us to function at our best and preventing any potentially irreparable damage.
Have you heard of the pressure vs performance curve? It's an inverted 'U' curve that shows how when pressure increases too much, this has a negative impact on performance. At the peak of the curve, this is where we are experiencing optimum stress levels and are therefore performing at our best. As stress increases further or perhaps over too long a period, however, this then leads to a drop in performance. This drop in performance tends to be due to high levels of anxiety and fatigue which later can lead to burnout.
So bringing it back to self-care. If you take good care of your self regularly, you are strengthening this foundation and therefore, have a stronger 'structure.' This means you will manage stress better, especially at higher levels or if you experience it for a long period of time.
To prioritise your self-care, make sure you work on the 4 foundational habits:
- Sleep - get 7-8 hours of good quality sleep consistently. At roughly the same times is best too.
- Nutritious food and drink - eat food and drinks that will give you more energy.
- Exercise - try to get at least 30 minutes of daily activity.
- Recharge time - make sure to get some time to switch off. This will give your brain a chance to do the real deep thinking for you.
Exactly like the 4 freedoms, give yourself a score for each habit out of 10 (where 10 is excellent and 0 is really poor) both for where you are right now and where you want to be. This will help you to focus on the areas that will make the most impact.
3. Put yourself back in control
If you've identified what's thrown you off track and you've started to prioritise your self-care, now you should have the energy and mindset to take action. Using your results from 'where you are out of alignment,' you can now start making a plan to re-find your desire and grow your small accountancy firm.
To help you put yourself back in the driver's seat, here are a few things that you can try:
- Confront your brutal reality. Suffering is what occurs when we resist what is already happening. Confront your reality and accept it. Yes, we are stuck indoors and things won't be changing any time soon. But what can you change? Getting more sleep or eating healthier to feel better maybe?
- Reconnect with your why. Think back to why you started doing what you do and go back to those freedoms that mean the most to you (e.g. having the money to fund your desired lifestyle). This will help you feel a sense of purpose with your work again.
- Start putting together a growth plan. If you're feeling really motivated by this self-reflection, why not put together a growth plan? Direction and goals will really help you mentally, not to mention that they are essential to grow your small accountancy firm. (Need help with your 3-year growth plan?)
- Get a coach to help you over any roadblocks. Having sessions with a business coach can really help you with motivation and growth! A fresh set of eyes on your business and processes is invaluable, not to mention that they'll hold you accountable too.
- Take some time out to recharge and get perspective. Taking some time off can really help you figure out what matters most to you.
- Look for some small wins to help get momentum. Small successes stimulate the reward system in the brain which makes us feel good. This then makes us want to do another as to stimulate it again, and on in a virtuous circle. If some tasks or actions are easy, do these first to help you build momentum for the rest.
- Take more control of your time. Put your role description together to see what you should be doing versus what you are actually doing. Delegate the things you shouldn't be doing and time-block time in your diary to do the rest.
- Stop being a victim. Look for the positives rather than the negatives and change your language (i.e. eliminate 'it's hard' and replace with 'I'll try'). Have a box of tricks you can use on yourself to switch from a bad mood into a good mood.
- Surround yourself with people who make you feel good. Everyone needs a support team to get them to the finish line. Build a supportive community around you and you'll feel a lot better.
Re-find your desire to grow your small accountancy firm
Identify what is getting you down, prioritise your self-care, and start doing the things that will put you back in the driver's seat!
We've all been subjected to chronic stress and anxiety this past year, so don't be too hard on yourself if you've lost your spark. Use these 3 steps to re-find your desire for your work again and grow your small accountancy firm.
Learn How to get your head back in the game for growth
Download (for free) the workshop recording of 'How to get your head back in the game for growth' and you will discover:
- How to refind your desire to grow your small accountancy firm
- How to have clients who value your firm and you
- How to create a high-performing team for your firm
- The power of taking action