Techniques for Minding Your Consulting Business Mindset
Dang. Am I right?!
But you still have a consulting business to build and grow—even during times such as these. I know that, more than once, I’ve had a desire to pull the covers over my head and Ben-and-Jerrys my way to 2021. But I can’t. We can’t.
So what do we do to keep our business going in the right direction?
My best advice is to stop and do some mindset maintenance. Why? Because mindset is often the first thing that gets dropped during times of stress—even though it is exactly the thing that can help us get through the stress.
I would do this now! Making adjustments to your mindset will help you make better decisions about what you need to do now and as you head into the new year. So don’t wait until you do your New Year’s resolutions. Get your mindset right so your resolutions come from a good place.
Where Do I Start?
The first step I like to take is diagnosing the problem. What is my current mindset relative to where I want it to be? That helps stave off unhelpful and unspecific self-criticism and lets me intervene with precision.
However, when I turn to look at the remnants of my mindset, it can be difficult to tell what needs my attention. When that happens, my go-to technique is free-writing. Free-writing is a technique where you continuously write without worrying about what you say or grammar or punctuation. (I use pen and paper so I don't get distracted by my computer trying to correct my mistakes.)
I usually start with a prompt and then just start writing to see what emerges. For assessing my mindset, I’ve been using the following prompts: I think, I feel, and I want. So I write down, “I think” and then I free-write for as long as I want. If I get stuck, I write “I think” again and free-write again. When I feel like I’ve exhausted that or after a defined time period, I do the same with “I feel” and then again with “I want.”
I then go back and review what I wrote, looking for themes that jump out.
If what you write reveals that you have been able to maintain a good mindset or some portion of one, celebrate that! Give yourself credit for doing that, especially during these difficult times. This is important because it is too easy to turn this exercise into a stick to beat yourself with or use it as evidence to build a case against yourself.
It’s likely that you’ll also find some underlying conditions that make maintaining a healthy mindset more difficult. You may find that you are feeling exhaustion. Feeling too worn down to make choices, focus, or get things done. Coupled with that is feeling overwhelmed. Feeling like there’s too much to do and not enough time or mental bandwidth to handle it all.
Both exhaustion and overwhelm make it easier for mindset issues to re-emerge. The two mindset issues I'm hearing about from a lot of consultants these days are:
Perceived scarcity: Believing that there’s not enough work for you.
Imposter syndrome: Believing that people will find out that you aren’t good or good enough.
The Right Mindset Medicine
Whatever you uncover, now you know what needs your attention and what cures to apply. If I’m feeling exhausted, I know I have to work on the foundation of a good mindset, which is my health baseline. I need to make sure I am getting enough sleep, eating healthy foods, and exercising. Without that, mind exhaustion takes over and my mindset slips.
When I’m feeling overwhelmed, then I can focus on solving that by doing things like blocking out chunks of time on my schedule for the work I most need to do when I am most able to do it. I also look for 5-10% of what I am doing that I could make a deliberate choice to delete, delay, delegate, or automate. And my personal favorite: I ask for help!
If I am clinging to perceived scarcity—meaning feeling scarcity in the absence of evidence of actual scarcity or out of proportion to actual scarcity—I fill in the spaces that my fear is occupying with facts. I do market research or have conversations with people in my market to get evidence of what reality is. That also lets me know if I have to just push past a false perception or switch up what I am doing to better align with changes in my market.
If imposter syndrome creeps (or leaps) back up, I know I have to stop and do a reality-based assessment of my true value, including looking back at things I have accomplished or contributed to and talking to people who know me and my value so I can get a clearer vision of reality.
Often you may find a combination of these or new creative ways that unhealthy beliefs, attitudes, or habits of thinking are trying to insert themselves into your mindset. Whatever you find, treat it as a temporary problem to solve and then take deliberate steps to make improvements.
Regular Maintenance and Mindset Slippage Prevention
Mindset is never a one-and-done exercise. (If only!) So plan to revisit your mindset on a regular basis and as needed. I’m scheduling time in my calendar right now to do my mindset maintenance so that it doesn’t head in a direction that doesn’t help me or my consulting business.
I’m also setting up or reasserting things that I can do to strengthen my mindset and prevent it from slipping onto unhealthy and unhelpful paths. For example, I noticed that I had not been writing in my journal on a daily basis. When I looked at why, it was pretty obvious. I’ve been sleeping in too late because I am getting to bed too late. So now I know what I have to do to support a habit that strengthens my mindset.
More than anything else, get and stay curious about what is impacting your mindset. Recognize that maintenance is normal and a lifelong activity of assessing, deciding, doing, and adjusting. But doing so is your path to the life and livelihood that you most want.
Need More Help?
And I know that it's not easy to get your mindset in the right place! So I put together this FREE TOOL to help you get started with two common mindset trap—feeling like you can sell your services and perceived scarcity. Click here for the free tool.