As a self-employed person, I’m in the business of giving advice and supporting other self-employed people running their own businesses. Although, being self-employed has it’s benefits it is often tough, bringing new pressures to bear. Not only do you have to balance responsibilities at home and work, but you also have to be a master of many skills, not just in what you’re selling to your customers. For instance, you also need to be a salesperson, marketer, strategist, product manager, accountant, administrator, secretary, receptionist, host and so on. Knowing how to prioritise everything can be very challenging.
The other difficulty for someone in charge of their own time, is the temptation to be drawn into new opportunities. For instance, when someone comes to you for help and they are willing to pay you, it can be hard to say no. But if that activity isn’t part of your strategy then it can prevent you actually achieving your goals.
And this is where I begin to thing about God’s purposes for my life, whether that conflicts with my own plans. As someone who spends a lot of time developing strategies, it can be a challenge to know when it’s right to divert from a plan. On the one hand, diverting can both delay and dilute the original goal but on the other, we cannot simply ignore everything around us in order to fulfil our own goals; life’s not that simple.
We need to allow time to reflect on where we’re going and we need to be willing to occasionally put down our plans in order to help someone else. Whilst goals are a valuable tool for many aspects of our life, we shouldn’t become a slave to them and exclude all others. After all, the journey really is more important that just getting to the destination.
If you’re task or goal oriented, here’s some tips on how to prevent losing sight of the here and now:
Schedule time to listen and reflect
I schedule time first thing in the morning to focus on the various roles I fulfil. On Monday’s I think about the people I come into contact through my work. On Wednesday’s I think about my friends and family, on Thursday’s I think about people linked to the charity I work for. This practise ensures that I am being regularly mindful of people despite my busy schedule.
Schedule time for people
Make space in your diary for people that doesn’t involve work. All work and no play not only makes Jack a dull boy, but tells people you’re more interested in projects than people. No matter what our work is, the work is always people and not projects. Put time in to have lunch with others, to go places together and intentionally try to find out about people. Show an interest in others, and this includes your partner and your family; don’t neglect them because of your busy schedule.
Make time to discuss plans and ideas
Having a mentor is one of the most beneficial things you can do in business. It’s invaluable to be able to share your ideas with someone who can help you put them into some sort of order, who’s able to ask you questions you haven’t thought about. Getting someone else’s perspective prevents me from taking on too much and keeps me focused on what I’m supposed to be doing. I actually have several mentors that I meet with monthly. Each one supports me with different roles, such as my charity work or my business.
Make time to think about the bigger questions
No matter what your personal beliefs, one things for certain and that each of us have specific gifts and abilities; we each enjoy different things. It’s important to make the most of our opportunities in life, that means spending time to discover our natural gifts and abilities, looking for opportunities to use them and investing time in developing them. This might not be as hard as it seems. I spend time praying and meditating, I also read specific books and articles and I seek out people with similar talents to myself. What I find is that I learn more about who I am each year that passes. This spurns me on to be the best version of myself that I can be, and to seek to put my talents to best use helping others.
Cultivate a good attitude
Whilst fighting hard and being tenacious are good qualities, it’s important to recognise when it’s time to stop. This means having the humility to admit defeat at times and defer to another course of action. This might mean letting someone else take over or shutting something down all together. It’s may also mean needing to forgive others and choose to have a positive outlook for the future. Carrying unnecessary baggage around is going to seriously slow you down!
As a follower of Christ I am continually reminded that he is my guide. He doesn’t just give me wise counsel and advice but he leads me. He comes into my situation and leads me out and up. When I lose my footing or stray from the path, he returns for me, takes me by the hand and leads me back. Mistakes are forgiven, hope restored and we begin again.
Jeremiah 29:4-11 v11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Proverbs 16:9 The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.
Proverbs 19:21 Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.
James 4:13-17 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.