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Biz Ladies: Your Most Overlooked Biz Success Secret

by Stephanie

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Running your own business can often feel like a series of  “trial and error” moments. Attempting to find the methods and systems that work best and most effectively can be a bumpy road and leave you questioning your abilities. Jen Louden, a personal growth pioneer who helped launch the self-care movement with her first book, The Woman’s Comfort Book, understands better than anyone how self-doubt can plague your biz. She’s the author of five additional books on well-being and whole living, including The Life Organizer, that have inspired more than a million women in nine languages. Jen has spoken around the world on self-care, written a national magazine column, and even sat on Oprah’s couch talking about the power of retreats. She believes self-love + world-love = wholeness for all, and today she offers some advice on how to infuse more instinctual trust and less doubt into your business. Trust in your success and it will happen. –Stephanie  

Read the full post after the jump…

You’ve learned so much about being in business, serving your clients, and marketing… and what if it’s time to stop learning and start listening to and trusting yourself?

I’m not dissing learning – it’s a vital part of business life and my all-time favorite hobby. But too often I see clients and students pass a tipping point where learning about business becomes a substitute for trusting their own instincts and desires. Everyone else’s opinions become more valuable than yours until yours don’t exist. Not good for your biz or your soul!

If you feel you keep waiting to learn enough to trust yourself, or that you aren’t as excited about your biz anymore, here’s what you do:

Get Intimate with Self-Trust
How do you know when you are trusting yourself? What does it mean to trust yourself in business? I have a bunch of ideas, having thought about this for years, but why should you care what I think? It’s your self-trust. It might help to look back – when have you trusted yourself? What did that feel like in your body? Was it exciting, strange, familiar? Has it been easier to trust yourself in some areas of your life than others? Maybe in design but not so much in relationships? Parenting but not hiring help? What you wear but not what you eat? Noticing the difference might help you start to get intimate with how self-trust unfolds – and feels – to you. Notice what you know.

Stop
We live in a world of experts, advice columns, and makeover shows. Without even realizing it, you can begin to believe everyone else knows how to run your biz better than you or maybe you just can’t hear yourself think. My signal to quiet the input is when I feel frazzled and full, anxious and unable to focus. That’s my signal to stop taking in anything new and start using Freedom (or some other Internet blocking software) to create a big oasis of quiet. I take Facebook, Twitter, and email off my phone. I read fiction and memoirs. I limit my time on social media using a timer. I trust my instincts to turn within and give myself time to digest what I already know.

Ask Yourself First
When you start out in business, it’s helpful to be a thirsty sponge seeking advice and role models. But even in this stage, and especially as you get even a bit of experience, it’s vital to ask yourself first, “What do I know about this?” before you go Googling or texting your mastermind group. To do this truly effectively, you have to first pause. You can’t access your wisdom when you’re freaked out or scattered in ten thousand pieces. Inhale a smidgen of calm, exhale tension. Tell yourself it’s all going to be fine, you always handle what life brings. Then inquire, “What do I know about this?” This might be your new logo, saying yes to a partnership, launching a new service, or simply taking a break for yoga class.

Jot down everything you hear, see, intuit, no matter how vague or strange.

Make Room for Your Desire
Take one more breath (it only takes a few more seconds) and ask yourself, “What do I want to do here?” Desire is a powerful ally of self-trust. Yes, it’s important to focus on what your clients and the market want, but if you only do that, you may leave behind what motivates you. Your desires not only matter, but they make your business unique. Without them, it’s easy to fall into being a cookie-cutter business, and to lose the energy and verve that fuels your daily determined work.

Next Simple Step
Another way we undermine our own wisdom is by confusing leaping with steady progress. I have wasted years in my work due to setting big hairy goals and huge income benchmarks while neglecting the simple, doable plans. Visions are fun, but it’s in our daily, well-chosen actions that we make our work happen.

Look at what you learned from asking yourself what you know and what you want, and now turn one idea or insight into a simple action step. If you learned that you like hot pink and turquoise, make your next simple step to find three web pages or logos using those colors. If you know that the partnership is a solid “no” for you, either make the call now saying, “Thanks but I’m focusing on my core business right now” or decide to spend five minutes learning more about this business to ground your “no” in facts. If you learned that you need a nap, trust yourself to rest.

Self-Trust Doesn’t Make You Infallible
Probably the biggest myth about trusting yourself is that it means everything always works out perfectly. This silly idea sends us right back out searching for THE answer, the golden bullet, to all our biz questions. Self-trust means you are present and playing! Which is HUGE – after all, this is your business and your life, not anybody else’s – but it doesn’t make you a goddess of perfection. Don’t confuse the two. But as you trust yourself more of the time, you realize failure doesn’t actually exist, only learning. Deep, true learning from your own lived experiences.

You Can Handle What Life Brings
My favorite way to cultivate self-trust is in the moment when my head is about to explode and I’m silently believing the tired old whiny-ass story, “I can’t handle this!” I invite myself – and you to join me – in remembering we’ve actually handled everything that life has brought to us so far. Not perfectly, not always admirably, but we’re still here, aren’t we?

Self‐trust grows from believing (even if you must remind yourself 17 times an hour) that you can handle what life dishes up – scalding hot, icy cold, kind of stale, or so sublime, you must squeeze your eyes shut as you savor it. And since you believe you can handle what life dishes up, what do you choose to do right now?

My work with thousands of women has shown me that self-trust is a hugely overlooked part of business success. It’s a skill well worth cultivating.

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Comments

  • This is something I try to remind myself of all the time, but the perspective is fresh and it gives me a new way to look at it. Thank you!

  • Small steps and knowing when to put the book/plan/computer down and just trust your gut and go — yes, I must remind myself of this (and act on it) everyday. Thank you for this and your other fantastic points.

  • I love the eloquence of this post. Reading it feels like being wrapped in a warm blanket. Even as we know all that you wrote Jen, to be true, we must do as you suggest and remind ourselves 17 times an hour!

    Today while taking a walk with a friend who is a yoga teacher and life coach, just getting her business off the ground beyond only teaching yoga classes, we ended up on this very same topic. She is caught between requiring some specific and concrete help with her business structure and yet being put off by many business coaches who use the method of scaring prospects in to hiring them and financial commitment by making them feel inadequate or “not enough” – thus requiring that coach.

    Our conversation ended up moseying to much of what you wrote about here. We spoke about how much she already knows and about trusting in that, rather than what she doesn’t. We explored looking at how far she has come in her business, and all that occurs every week, rather than the lofty end goal a few years down the road. And we spoke about handling it – and how we (as women in particular) have “handled it” pretty incredibly well so far, and will continue to do so.

    What I love most about this article Jen, is that even as I coach my entrepreneur clients around this very topic – I too deserve the reminder. I too have to remember to stop – to breathe – to trust – and to now get caught up in the angst of “not enough”.
    Thank you so much for sharing these thoughts.

    Warmly,
    Deborah

  • Thank you so much for this post. I’m only 16, but I’m starting my future in the creative world now. It’s tough sometimes! I work so much + so hard on all of my content and since I’m still growing my follower base pretty slowly, it can be easy to get discouraged. It’s good to know I’m not alone :)

  • Absolutely. Recently, I have been toying with making my blog and turning my attempts at writing a book into real business a reality. Self trust is hard. There is always that little voice in the back of your head when you start a big plan that makes you second guess yourself. This was a super inspiring post!

  • Wonderful words…my favourite part:

    Self‐trust grows from believing (even if you must remind yourself 17 times an hour) that you can handle what life dishes up – scalding hot, icy cold, kind of stale, or so sublime, you must squeeze your eyes shut as you savor it.

    So true. I am always reminding myself to invest in the process. Thanks for the post!

  • This was such a lovely article to read. A big sparkly yes to believing in yourself and to more positivity. We very quickly seem to forget all the good work and progress we’ve done when faced with a bump in the road. We must remind ourselves that we are enough: perfectly un-perfect. Here’s to everyone trusting their gut and enjoying the crazy wonderful ride!

  • Reading this article was perfect timing. I discussed with my husband my self-doubt in starting my business because the graphic designer I’ve been working with doesn’t get my vision for the logo. I was telling myself, “well I guess this is a sign that I shouldn’t go into business.” My husband said that talk was nonsense! It just meant that I needed to move on to someone different who could create the logo I wanted. He was right. It had nothing to do with me starting a successful business. I have to keep reminding myself that I can do this and I have so many people supporting me.

  • After a full day devouring articles and taking online classes and obsessively checking social media, feeling increasingly frazzled and out of my depth, this is *exactly* what I needed to hear. Thank you, Jen!

  • Jen! Thank you so much for this piece – I really needed it today. Running my own business has me questioning myself constantly and self-trust is definitely an overlooked and essential component of running a business. I’m for sure going to check out your books!!

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