On this morning’s walk with the dogs, I had some time to think about the static that keeps us from succeeding as entrepreneurs. With a little thought, I decided that the same traits that keep us from succeeding in the corporate world may be the very things that get in the way of making it on our own.
Here’s what got me to this point: I was thinking about how many of us leave the corporate world because of boredom. We may have uber skills in our chosen areas, but we find the environment stifling. We twitch and shiver and maybe stir the pot all day long in an attempt to relieve the anxiety that’s destroying our focus.
I’m convinced that many of the talented adults I’ve seen failing in highly-structured work environments are undiagnosed sufferers of Attention Deficit Disorder. We want to play well with others. We want to contribute. We simply can’t function in the same enclosed space, on the same old work details day after day without feeling the fallout of anxiety. Insomnia, compulsive eating, irritability, stress-related illness. Bosses aren’t happy, we aren’t happy. And then we leave and start the cycle over somewhere else.
That brings me back to the whole reason I’m writing this post. If we go through this frustrating cycle of starting and ending employment often enough, we may wonder if it would be better to work for ourselves. Freelance. Start a new business. But if we can’t figure out what’s triggering our anxiety about work and how to structure our lives in a way that reduces it, we’re back in the same muddle of unhappiness before too long.
So what to do if ADHD (or general anxiety about work) and entrepreneurship aren’t mixing well? I’ll give you my cure in one sentence: we structure our lives in ways that make sense for us. After all, we’re working for ourselves. We’re responsible to create the product or service that pays our bills. So it makes sense, doesn’t it, that the structure we create has to fit who we are, ADHD symptoms and all.
One of the biggies in my self-structuring list is that I don’t work in the same place every day. If my focus is wandering badly and I have a deadline to meet, I pack the laptop and walk to the corner coffee shop. That change in environment always puts me back on track (and the Mayan Latte adds spice to my writing!)
Another important way I compensate for what I refer to as “the buzz” is to work shorter blocks of time. I find I am more productive when I break up the day into two hour blocks – writing, walking, writing, working on website, etc. Maybe for you, it means walking out of the place of business you’re running and forgetting about it for thirty minutes. Could mean playing basketball at the Y in the middle of the day. Maybe you take a nap at 2 p.m. or do fifteen minutes of Zumba.
Whatever it takes to break up the day and relieve the anxiety of maintaining focus, it’s okay for us to do it. We’re the boss, we know what makes us tick and we are not flaky. We have gained the self-knowledge to know how we are most productive. No apologies necessary.
I’ll ask a question to end: if you’re having trouble maintaining your focus during your adventure in entrepreneurship, what can you do to reframe your time? Here’s a bonus question: what will you build into your workplace as it grows to allow your employees the same freedom? It could become a movement – can’t wait to hear your ideas.