Entrepreneurship is not a destination; it’s a journey. On this journey, successful entrepreneurs don't have an expectation of “arriving” to some finish line. If you do have that expectation, you won’t continue to push yourself to step outside of your comfort and grow. You won’t seek out the things that truly help your business experience explosive results because all those things require you stretching yourself.
On any journey, you have times of joy and more than a few setbacks. During the times of joy, you feel like you can accomplish anything. It gives you the strength and motivation to continue to put in the work that helps your business. During the hard times, negative feelings and emotions can easily take over. Before you know it, you're feeling sorry for yourself and you turn to your familiar coping mechanism.
That coping mechanism could be food, alcohol, binge-watching TV or any other thing that takes your focus away from what you want to accomplish in your business. Since you don't have a boss or company dictating your day and what you accomplish, that time "coping" could turn into weeks of your doing no work at all.
Becoming a successful entrepreneur means understanding hard times are when you need to push. When there are obstacles, here's what you need to do.
Acknowledge, then process your thoughts
The only way to get through obstacles is to start with acknowledging that they're there. The gateway to your feelings and emotions is your thoughts. What you think about and focus on is what you'll attract more of into your life. When you're dealing with obstacles, your thoughts focus on what you can't control and why that situation is happening to you. That can be a dark place.
When you feel your thoughts spiraling, give yourself two minutes to fully feel what is going on in your head. Don't try to suppress those thoughts -- let them out. When you try to suppress them, they grow stronger and threaten to get control. Once you have given yourself two minutes, take control of your thoughts. Focus on what brings you joy and what you're grateful for in your life. It's hard to be down when you're expressing gratitude.
Focus on what you can control
Life is messy. Change is hard. Growing a business is not easy and it feels like everything can go wrong at once. There are always going to be things you can't and shouldn't try to control. There are, however, things you can do something about. If your marketing plan is off, you can readjust. If your sales are lacking, you can go back what you know works. If a team member is causing more trouble than is worth helping them, you can let them go.
The point being, there are tangible things you can fix in your business no matter what is happening. Identify what the things are that you can do something about. Create a plan that will help you get on the path to recovery. Make it practical and actionable. Fill up your to-do list and calendar with the tasks that lead to results.
Ask for help, then take action
Some obstacles feel like more than you can handle. Seeking counsel and support can be the difference between you getting through it or failing. Don't try to be Wonder Woman or Superman. Seek help. One of the best things you can do is make decisions that help you recover. Talking and planning with someone who understands and is trained in dealing with a crisis is valuable.
Then, make decisions that are action-based. If a decision pushes you toward the action that helps your business, make it. One of the best ways to recover from difficult situations is to take massive action. Taking action on the things you can control will give you progress. As you consistently take action, you'll be closer to your goal before you even realize.
Obstacles don't have to be business breakers in your life. You can learn from them and use them to make you a stronger and wiser entrepreneur. The most successful entrepreneurs understand that it's not the crisis -- it's your response that determines how successful you'll be. Stay strong, process your thoughts, create a plan and then take action.
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This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com. Minor edits have been done by the Entrepreneur.com.ph editors