From a bestseller book to a hit Netflix series, Marie Kondo has built an empire on the back of tidiness. “The objective of cleaning,” she explains, “is not just to clean, but to feel happiness living within that environment.”
But, ask yourself this: What about your mind?
You spend more time in your head than anywhere else. Often nitpicking, second-guessing, and doubting yourself. All of those negative thoughts can clutter your mind and drag you down.
So, your spring cleaning to-do list should extend beyond your physical space to those self-deprecating beliefs that business owners commonly hold on to.
Here are five thoughts that you should let go of, as well as exactly how you can.
1. “This will never work.”
You’ve heard the statistics that 50% of small businesses fail within the first four years, and that statistic is likely something you said to yourself when you were starting out.
Even if you’ve been running a successful business for a while now, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve released those overwhelming doubts. You’re still plagued by this negative perception whenever you’re about to do anything different that could potentially rock the boat—whether it’s launching a new product, trying a new marketing initiative, or increasing your prices.
A certain level of doubt as a small business owner is standard (and even healthy). However, you don’t want to be burdened by so much skepticism that you end up holding yourself back.
Whenever you feel a desire to try something new or tackle a challenge, think about the worst-case scenario. That might seem discouraging at first, but this can be a helpful reality check, as the possible result likely isn’t nearly as terrible as you’re imagining. Plus, doing this forces you to think through any potential risks—so you can check your own biases and make truly informed decisions for your business.
2.“I wish my business were as successful as that other person’s.”
Theodore Roosevelt said it best when he said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” But, using other people as a benchmark for your success is practically human nature.
It’s particularly tempting when you’re a business owner. You feel good about your progress until you see that a competitor has just launched an amazing new website. You’re proud of your sales—until a peer shares their own sales numbers for the quarter.
Constant comparisons can be debilitating, and they’re also counterproductive. After all, someone else’s success in no way indicates your failure.
It’s time to put on your blinders and focus only on your progress by thinking like a marathon runner. They aren’t at all concerned about who’s in front of them or behind them. They’re intensely focused on beating their personal best. Set goals and milestones that matter to you, and then work on achieving those—rather than participating in these silent competitions with everyone else around you.
3. “If I just work a little harder, then I’ll feel settled.”
Business owners have a reputation for being hard workers. One Gallup poll indicates 39% of small business owners work at least 60 hours per week.
However, that also means that business owners have a tendency to overwork—mainly because they’re always setting moving targets for themselves. They tell themselves that if they get a little more done or make a bit more money, then they’ll finally celebrate their success.
It’s a big part of the reason why a reported 25% of small business owners have got sick because of stress and overwork.
Establishing goals for yourself is motivating. But, don’t neglect to take the time to celebrate when you achieve them—rather than continuing to move the finish line a little further forward.
Overworking is an easy trap to fall into, which is why you need to set boundaries (in the form of time limits). For example, perhaps you’ll no longer allow yourself to work when it’s past 6 PM. Once you’ve established that limit, enlist the help of others to help you stick to it. Your colleagues or even your family members will probably be more than happy to hold you accountable.
4. “My failures will always follow me.”
Failure is an inevitable part of the process when you’re a business owner. Even if your entire business is thriving, you’ll still experience your share of setbacks—like losing clients, receiving negative reviews, or dealing with disgruntled ex-employees.
Those disappointments can be hard to shake. But, here’s the thing: They aren’t following you. You’re the one dragging them along behind you.
Not wanting to repeat your mistakes is admirable. That doesn’t mean you need to continue to beat yourself up about them.
While it might feel a little cheesy, write a previous failure or disappointment on a piece of paper. Next, crumple it up and throw it away. I know—it seems inconsequential. However, it adds some physicality to the act of actually detaching yourself.
5. “My business is everything to me.”
Your business is your passion, and it matters a lot to you. That’s to be expected. Research shows pursuing a passion is the second most common reason that people start businesses, second only behind being their own bosses.
Recognize that your business is important, but don’t make it your sole source of fulfillment or identity.
You are so much more than just your business. “Business owner” is only one facet of who you are as an entire person.
Many business owners channel so much of themselves into their companies that they lose sight of the other things that matter to them. Schedule some non-negotiable time that you can dedicate to other hobbies and passions, whether it’s piano lessons, karate, or spending time with your loved ones. Keep in mind that you started your business to improve your life—not to be consumed by it.
When you’re coping with the stress of running your own small business, it’s natural that some negative thoughts will burden you. However, you don’t want to let them overcome you (particularly when research shows that business owners are at an increased risk for a variety of mental health problems, including depression, anxiety, and self-worth issues).
This research speaks to the importance of putting your mind on your list of things to be straightened up and decluttered from time to time. Doing so allows you to release yourself from those negative thoughts and move forward in your business feeling refreshed and refocused.