No matter who you are in the world, there will be times (many of them) where you hit a bump in the road. Some bumps might be a little deeper than others. Some may even leave you feeling a little worse for wear. But embrace every last one of them… for they will be the most pivotal moments of your life.
Two weeks ago I was riding high on a wave of energy and excitement. I was meeting the right people, making all of the right appointments and moving at a swift pace towards my dream of creating a household brand. Then, as most waves do, it came crashing down around my feet.
Nothing spectacular happened really. On a Friday I closed for the weekend, knowing that after the bank holiday I was going in for a small operation. I’d need a few days rest and then I would be back to it. Simple.
My operation went smoothly and I was home by the evening, however the following day I was hit with a rather nasty infection. I am generally not a good ill person. I like to be active and creating constantly. Lying on the sofa feeling pretty crumby was all I could really do. By the end of the day I was already frustrated and beginning to feel pretty low.
During the next day I received a call from someone who was going to offer advice about manufacturing. The business person in me was willing me to take the call, but the sick person was ordering me to re-schedule. I took the call! The majority of it was very positive and I received some great feedback about what I was wanting to do. There was a teeny percent where the gentleman expressed concern over the cost of something I would like to include in my business. Even though about 90% of the call was positive, I focussed in on the other 10%. It was probably because I wasn’t in the right head space and was (quite honestly) too ill to be making such calls. But instantly I was depressed and began questioning everything I was doing.
Low moments like these (no matter what triggers them) will automatically fire off feelings of self-doubt.
“I’m not cut out for this”
“I’m not good enough”
“This is going to be the biggest failure to ever happened to the human race”
“I should just give up now before its too late”
For two days I sat in the blackness. A massive mountain stood before me and I just didn’t believe I had it in me to even attempt the climb. Even looking back at all of the achievements I’d made to date (and there were some massive ones) it all just seemed futile. This was even despite the fact I had a meeting with very interested investors lined up for June.
This was a low time triggered my physical weakness. I’ve had many more triggered by all kind of things – losing contracts, not making the right connections, a product not working out, not having enough money etc. It doesn’t matter what it is, when the low times come it can be an incredibly difficult place to be.
By the end of that first week I felt like my enthusiasm had all but completely gone, but I knew deep down that I wasn’t giving up. That 10% bad news made me think a little deeper about what I wanted to do with the business and where I wanted to take it. It was going to be a hurdle in my original business plan, but actually this was a blessing in disguise. I grabbed a blank sheet of paper and started coming up with solutions to the problems the gentleman had spoken of. Most of them were to do with taking the product to a retail market off the bat. I also wrote down my vision for the business and where I wanted to be in 10 years time. Seeing both my solutions and my vision together actually made me realise that I could completely work the problem and create something even better than I’d originally planned.
It’s been two weeks since my operation and I’m still not 100% myself. My energy is low and I’m battling to stay awake half the time. However, I am feeling positive moving foward. This low point may have kept me down for a few days, but it actually allowed me to re-evaluate and pivot some problems. This new way of selling my products also gave me a fantastic Eureka moment in terms of packaging and branding. This in turn re-ignited by passion and helped me to move out of the low period.
Now sometimes, there may not seem like a way out of a low period. It may be that you have to completely scrap an idea and move on to the next. But the beauty of having these moments of doubt is that you’re learning so much more in such a short space of time. And no matter what causes that low moment in your life, its never permanant. How long it takes depends on how you decide to work the problem; but its never forever.
My top tips would be:
- Write down what you think the problem is
- Brainstorm solutions on how you think you can solve the problem
- Re-examine the times when things were going well and what did you do to achieve these.
- Pivot. Ideas are like play-doh and can be reshaped to create something even better. Sometimes you just have to play around with it for a bit.
- Get someone to look at why you feel like you’re in this low point. It might just be that you’re so deep in the problem that your outlook is conflicting with reality.
Also most important of all is to take time away. Even though I hate not working, I forced myself to go back to the place where I had my initial business idea. Being there, just having some reflective time, made me realise I was just having a crisis of confidence.