Staying the Course When the World Feels Like A Dumpster Fire KDS: 117September 20, 2023 September 26, 2023 /
Staying the Course in your business can be challenging on any given day, let alone when the world feels like a dumpster fire.
I won’t go sideways with this episode about all of the challenges people are facing in the world right now. We’re all aware that things are not what they used to be, and there’s a lot of uncertainty.
This is why it’s vital that we tune out the noise and find ways to ground ourselves.
I stopped watching the news about 15 years ago (when it felt like actual news, not entertainment or propaganda).
Even back then, though, it felt like the focus was on the negative.
I remember years ago, I would go straight to the gym after taking the kids to school, and if I were on the treadmill or elliptical, I’d pop on Good Morning America.
Harmless enough, right?
Most of that was lifestyle and entertainment, but there were news segments or teasers about the news, and even if I weren’t aware of it, some of that would still sink in.
Once I got my first iPad and realized I could actually read while working out, I stopped watching the news.
Fast forward to today, and the only bits of news I get are from social media (not intentionally, but maybe TikTok because they show you content based on what you watch).
I don’t go too far down that rabbit hole because before I know it, I start feeling either angry or depressed.
There was a time when I took a very neutral stance on what was happening politically because of this. All it did was make me miserable (and again, I promise this isn’t a political post; this is all for context).
My intention was, and still is, to be the best human being I can be, to be kind, do good work, and love with my whole heart. All while creating a life that fills my soul to the very depth of my being.
With all of the upheaval over the last few years, something in me has woken up.
And you can’t “unring a bell,” so to speak.
My sense of responsibility to the world I live in feels deeper.
I’m sure this is a combination of my age, my children are grown and on their own (so I have more bandwidth), and some of the loss I’ve experienced.
You hit a point in life where you realize, “If not now, when?”
We’re living through some amazing and challenging times right now.
The first and most important place to start is with ourselves.
So, I’ve been contemplating this question a lot.
“How do I stay the course when everything around me feels like a dumpster fire?”
Now, to be honest, I’m not actually using the phrase “when everything around me feels like a dumpster fire” when I’m thinking about the question of how to stay the course.
That was strictly for the sake of the title of this episode.
Words have power, and I try to choose them carefully.
The question of staying the course, though, is 100% accurate. I’m asking from a place of curiosity and a true desire to keep myself in alignment.
To answer this question, let’s approach it from two angles: the internal and external side of things.
The Internal Side of Staying the Course.
In some ways, the internal side of this is easier because it’s something we actually control.
In other ways, it’s harder because it takes conscious decisions, effort, and massive boundaries to anchor in behaviors and beliefs that support staying the course.
And any time we set boundaries, we’ll probably upset someone else simply because we’re taking care of ourselves first.
It’s kind of funny when you realize that the only reason people get upset when you take care of yourself first is because you’re not taking care of what they want. In other words, “do what I want, not what you want.”
It’s super simplistic, I know, but it’s on point.
The other hard part about working on the internal side of things is that you must be willing to stop for a moment.
Get away from the computer, the noise, people, social… all of it.
It’s hard to get clear on what you want and what’s important to you with a zillion other things vying for your attention.
I remember Wayne Dyer once saying, “It’s the silence between the notes that makes the music.” Which, by the way, was originally said by the composer Claude Debussy.
The older I get, the more I crave quiet.
It’s how I get clear; it refuels me and keeps the world’s chaos at bay.
Let’s get a little more specific with what you can actually do with the internal side of things to stay the course.
Start by creating a little structure in your life.
When I was a young mother, my Mom used to say over and over again that children relied on and needed structure. Not from a place of being super strict, but simple routines and structure help children feel safe.
And she was right.
The same is true for you.
Regardless of where I’ve lived, from the time I started my business, I have always, always, always worked from my desk as though I were working for someone else.
My start and end time varies, and there are days off and time away, but this commitment in myself has instilled a level of trust that has carried me through the last 15 years.
I use the term “gentle structure” because I go into massive resistance when I feel like “I have” to do something.
This is why I’ve kept up with my journaling routine (the three things I do every day) for the last four months. I didn’t want a routine that felt like a part-time job and took half my day.
I also make sure to take as much time for myself as I can.
I’m in an “in-between” phase in my life right now while I’m at my Dad’s, trying to figure out where I want to be (besides going back and forth between Costa Rica and the States), so it’s crucial that I create the space I need while I figure that out.
I truly relish my time alone.
Other things I do to stay the course:
- See my therapist/mentor regularly
- Calls with friends for accountability and support
- Get outside (especially before it gets too cold)
- Take baths/get massages
- Time with people I love
The benefit of the time for myself is that it’s much easier for me to show up for the people I love when I’m not over-extended. And yes, this means disappointing others sometimes and missing out on things. But I always think of something my therapist said: “I find when I take care of myself, it’s usually in the best interest of the other person as well.
This past weekend, I felt a little angst about life in general. There was no particular reason. Nothing happened, but I could feel those old thoughts kicking up, and I knew I needed to change things up.
The best thing I do for myself when I’m feeling this is to do something physically.
So that’s exactly what I did.
I got in the pool for a bit and did a little cleaning of it (I don’t think there will be too many pool days left this year, and I knew that pretty soon it would probably be too cold to get in). Then, I did a few more “chores” inside.
When everything was done, I took a bath, cooked a pizza, and watched a movie (in my freshly made bed because I washed all my bedding, too).
As an entrepreneur, it’s easy to get caught up in feeling like “doing the work” is the only thing that will move the needle.
But that’s not true.
We must allow ourselves time for thinking, reflecting, turning the business brain off, and being present.
Now, let’s talk about the External Side of Staying the Course.
You need to curate everything.
- Your social feeds
- Your inbox
- What you listen to, watch, and read
- Where and how you spend your time
- Who you talk to/share things with
- Where you invest your time & money (courses, webinars, etc.)
Curating social feeds isn’t a new concept, but more often than not, we blow it off and don’t do anything about it.
For example, my Facebook feed is pretty much marketing content, friends, animals, and like-minded people.
Choosing to mute, unfollow, and unfriend people who display things that ruffle my feathers is being responsible to myself.
I wish we lived in a world with civil discourse, where people listened to opposing views with a desire to learn (instead of just waiting to shout back at why someone is wrong), but that’s rarely the case with social media.
You don’t owe anyone anything, especially on social media.
I don’t care if it’s your next-door neighbor or a family member. It’s your feed.
Occasionally, I post things on my personal profile that are political.
Inevitably, I’ll have someone who disagrees with me post a negative comment because it’s ruffled their feathers.
My response? I deleted their comment. There is no explanation, no counterargument. A simple “buh-bye” works wonders.
I don’t need to defend my opinion to anyone.
Unsubscribe to anything and everything that doesn’t support you feeling the way you want to feel.
When it comes to your business if you subscribe to a newsletter, person, or company that only makes you feel like you’re not doing enough or you’re not doing things right… cut the chord. Click unsubscribe.
I don’t care how big the person or company is.
Make how you feel most important (i.e., more important than FOMO, which is BS anyway).
When I read things, and the first thing I think to myself is, “Kim, you know this. You don’t need this. Focus on what you’re creating, what you’re building, and who you serve. You don’t need “more information” about what you already know.
If it’s not going to help me get better at what I’m doing and isn’t simply for entertainment or a soul purpose (i.e., it makes me feel something), why on earth would I give my time to it?
This has been a very recent realization.
And I completely attribute this to the level of focus I’ve had and my commitment to myself.
What you listen to, watch, and read
I am very conscious of what I put into my head. I only listen to things that fuel me or make me feel good. It doesn’t matter if it’s a podcast, music, or background noise. The same is true with what I read.
I used to think I was pretty good with what I watched until I realized that even though something I’m watching aligns with my beliefs (TikTok) if all it does is piss me off, it’s not helping.
I haven’t quite figured out the balance between staying informed and aware and not getting angry… so until I do, I need to practice what I preach here.
TV & movies are easy for me. I don’t watch things that cause me angst (reality TV, horror movies, or sad stories). My inner Pollyanna would rather re-watch one of the first few Harry Potter movies over watching true crime any day of the week (I love all the movies, but the second half of the films are darker and sadder. So I limit those, haha).
All of this applies to business and marketing content, too.
Even if the content is valuable… if you find it makes you feel bad about yourself, that you’re not doing enough, or you should be further along… turn it OFF.
Where and How You Spend Your Time
Your environment matters.
I had a great apartment in Costa Rica, but it needed a little help when I arrived.
I had an incredible view (the beach was less than a 10-minute walk from my place), vaulted ceilings, and lots of windows. However, the colors were off, the furniture was arranged in a strange way, and it didn’t “feel like me.”
I had it painted, rearranged the furniture, had some things made (curtains, cushions for the kitchen table benches), and decorated it so it felt like my space.
How I felt was more important than the money I spent on these things (which, fortunately, I was able to sell everything when I moved, but would have been fine if I couldn’t).
I’m a pretty neat person, don’t do well with clutter, and always make sure my space feels good.
I also apply this to places I go.
I don’t like huge crowds or super loud noise (I could probably handle a football game, but concerts? Pass), so I’ve let go of feeling like I “should” want to do those things.
This is also why you’ll probably never see me at a huge business or marketing event. The last big event I went to was Funnel Hacking Live in 2018 (I think it was around 3k people), and that was it for me. It was so draining.
Be incredibly protective of the impact of this on your sense of well-being.
It’s hard to show up, create, and serve your audience when you’re over-stimulated, your energy is drained, or you don’t feel good in your own space.
Who You Talk to/Share things with
This probably feels obvious, but it’s too important not to talk about.
We’ve all heard the phrase, “You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with” (I believe this was Jim Rohn).
I don’t know if there’s any data to support this, but you can tell pretty quickly whether or not someone drains you or fuels you.
It’s also easy to feel stagnant if the people you spend the most time with/engage with aren’t moving the needle in their own lives.
We all know people who talk the talk but don’t walk the walk.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t have them in your life; make sure you’re in a good place before you spend time with them. Otherwise, it’s easy to get pulled down.
Where You Invest Your Time and Money
It’s never been easier to learn something new or improve on a skill set.
However, before you spend your time and money on a new strategy or tactic, evaluate if what you’re already doing is working and whether or not there’s room to improve on a fundamental skill that will truly make a difference.
For example, if you’re not consistent at sharing and showing up on the social channels you are active on, what makes you think that investing in a course about a specific platform you’re not using is going to be any different?
If you decide you want to go all in with ONE channel and want to learn how to make the most of that effort, that’s a different story.
However (and I’m talking to myself here), if you have assets, content, and connections already (i.e., you’re not just starting out), how can you ensure that you’re doing the best with what you’ve got?
I’m no stranger to jumping in and wanting to try something new, but man… where I tend to get the best ROI with my time and money is when I work on going deeper.
Getting better at something specific and focusing.
Most of this stuff seems so obvious, doesn’t it?
Of course, we should only engage in things that make us feel good and support our goals…
But we’re human.
All of this is simply life.
External things happen (on a big scale and in our day-to-day lives) that impact us and throw a monkey wrench in things.
But that’s when having some of this stuff in place gives us the grace to move through life more gently.
The more you practice this, the easier it gets, and the stronger the trust in yourself becomes.