“I’m totally burned out and need some motivation. I’m stuck in a rut and need to get out of it. I really don’t want to leave this business, but if I can’t get my shit together and find the passion I had years ago I’m going to have to. It’s been hard for me to focus and complete anything. I want to do everything at once and end up either doing nothing or starting everything and not finishing. I think I need a life coach or someone to be accountable to so I get things done.”
I’m about to offend some coaches.
In my experience, coaches are worthless. The ones I’ve met in my travels collect money and tell their clients what they want to hear instead of what they need to hear. Many of them lack experience, which isn’t surprising since there’s no education or licensing requirement to become a “coach.” Additionally, coaches can’t be held liable for the bad advice they give you. I’ve seen salon owners get absolutely taken by coaches so I’m completely against them. Instead, I recommend finding an appropriate mentor.
Every professional needs a mentor, especially salon owners. Mentors also don’t require certification or education and can’t be held liable for any bad advice they give you, but at least you won’t be bankrupted by them. The best mentors are those who have walked in your shoes and have taken the path to success. They’ve beaten that trail so they’re in a better position to help you find your way. At the very least, they’ve likely experienced the same troubles you have and can relate to you on a level generic “coaches” can’t. (Never underestimate the strength and value of a sympathetic shoulder to commiserate with.)
Mentors can act as cheerleaders also but the best ones are those who won’t put up with your excuses and those who are willing to lend a helping hand when you need it. I’ve mentored many new salon professionals and it’s not all hugs and high fives. Good mentors assign tasks and due dates. If a mentee slacks, they’re called out for it. If a mentee isn’t capable of performing a certain task (for example, writing a resume), a good mentor will walk them through it so they can learn how.
If accountability is the problem, serious thinking is the solution.
You are accountable to someone, in all instances.
That person could be you, it could be your employees, it could be your clients, or your business itself. Someone or something will always suffer for your failure to complete important duties. That damage might not be visible upon cursory inspection, you can always find it if you look deeper. For some tasks, the damage is nothing more than a lack of benefit or missed opportunity. (For example, failing to run a timely promotion or participate in a networking event may not necessarily hurt your business in an immediately obvious way, but the lost opportunities come with hidden consequences.)
Getting motivated to consistently execute can be difficult, but these motivation issues generally stem from one or more of the following factors:
- Self-doubt (“I’m a failure.” “I can’t.” “I’m not smart enough.”): Those negative inner voices can kill your motivation faster than anything, turning your focus to how inadequate you are instead of turning it to solving the problems at hand.
- Confusion (“I seriously have no idea how to do this.”): When you have no idea how to proceed, or do know how to proceed but don’t know how to get from Point A to Point B, the end result can be a road block.
- Upset Equilibrium (“I’m overwhelmed.”): I’m not talking about vertigo or any of that “discombobulated Chakra” stuff. Upset equilibrium is that feeling of being torn into ten different directions at once. It’s that feeling you get when you’re overwhelmed, and usually it’s caused by both personal and professional discord. When your “To Do” list has fifty things on it, each comes with one or more issues preventing or complicating your ability to complete them, and you have no idea how to prioritize each task, you’ll begin hearing that static in your brain and feeling that tightness in your chest. That’s how you know your equilibrium is all out of whack. You’re reaching but can’t grasp anything.
- System Breakdown (“Nothing is getting done.” “Everything is going wrong.”): When you lack systems or your systems aren’t designed properly, finishing anything becomes impossible. By far, this is the biggest issue salon owners deal with. When there’s no schedule, tasks are forgotten. When there’s no protocol, operations fall apart.
So how do you deal with those productivity killers?
Suppress those inner voices telling you that you’re “not,” or that you “can’t.” Those voices aren’t productive, useful, or worthy of your time. They’re doing nothing for you, so silence them. If you feel yourself being pulled into a pity party, take a few minutes to recognize your achievements and shift your focus to your tasks.
Make a list. Put all your problems down on paper in a list format. Prioritize those that are time-sensitive, followed by those which are quick and easy to accomplish. All the others go at the bottom, ranked by how damaging the consequences are should they not be completed. Put these problems into perspective. Is redesigning your business cards really that pressing of an issue? Unless you’ve recently changed your number, address, or website URL, the answer is a big “nope.” Stop losing sleep over stupid shit and focus on what matters.
Strategize. Come up with as many ways to complete the tasks as possible. Choose the methods that make the most sense and require the least effort.
Delegate. Compare outsourcing costs and benefits. For example, if redesigning your marketing materials would take you a considerable amount of time, would it not be better to outsource that task to a graphic designer and focus on the tasks that really require your direct involvement (like training a new hire)? Assess the time investment on each task and determine whether or not the job is simple enough to assign to someone else, especially if that “someone else” is more qualified to do the job than you are.
Design systems and schedules, and stick to them. The easiest way to keep from getting overwhelmed is to have efficient processes, especially for recurring tasks like inventory tracking and replenishment. Schedules and processes will keep you focused and keep you grounded. When your personal management systems are functioning well, you’ll never feel overwhelmed or lost again. Salon owners in particular should have systems in place for hiring, training, performance assessment, routine quality assurance, continuing education, inventory management, social media management, progressive discipline, and all other operational tasks.
Ask for help. If you’ve hit a wall, seek assistance. Networking groups are great for this. Get an outside perspective, take a class, search the internet, consult with a mentor, or read a book on the topic. Don’t plow through a problem from a position of limited knowledge or you may end up creating more problems for yourself.
Execute. When you review your list of tasks, set reasonable due dates for them. If it helps, break the task into smaller tasks. Give 100% to the tasks on the list, in order. Don’t spread your effort between them or allow yourself to become distracted by new problems that aren’t immediately pressing. (Leaking ceilings and plumbing are immediate issues; making time for a meeting with an annoyingly aggressive new product vendor isn’t.)
Self-congratulate. Too few people do this well, or at all–myself included. When you’ve accomplished something, take a few minutes to feel good about it. It’s done! You did a thing! Awesome! Gold star! Now, go do another thing, you productive maniac!
What about you? What techniques have you used to pull yourself out of your professional ruts? Let us know in the comments!