A common refrain among my clients? “I’ve tried everything, but it’s not working. What gives!” By everything, they mean self-development books, coaches, conferences, and retreats — to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars. Some of these clients are making six figure incomes, yet they aren’t free. They’re not free to travel, to play, to rest, and to breathe. Instead, they’ve created their own hamster wheel. How to step off the wheel? Start with these seven unexpected (and free!) investments that paid off big time for my business — and can pay off big time for you too.
Before I started meditating, I thought, “There’s no way I have time to sit around. I have six million other things to do!” But my anxiety levels were so bad my hand would shake while holding my morning smoothie. So I embraced meditation. I became more centered, less stressed, and I even slowed down my pace.
This shift meant fewer mistakes and more creative problem solving, instead of running around like a chicken without a head and putting out fires. Because there were fewer mistakes, my business expenses went down. I also regained free time because I no longer had to clean up my mistakes. Before I meditated, I would just delegate, delegate, delegate. I would have gotten what I wanted, but it was more expensive because I was so frenzied and disorganized. Now, I get centered and clear first, then delegate only the essential tasks. So meditate however you want to meditate. I do it lying down, and every spiritual guru has reprimanded me. I don’t care. I’d rather meditate my way than not at all, or worse yet, meditate your way.
2. Practice Non-Attachment
For a long time, I had the “I’m too busy to date” mentality. If I met someone in June, my first opening would be for mid-September. That’s a true fact! I believed I had to choose between either my career or my love life. That all changed once I learned to practice non-attachment — meaning learning the art of relaxation, being lighthearted at all times, and going on dates, simply to get to know another human being. That led to more fulfillment and joy, and a deeper sense of connection, which are all antidotes to perfectionism, workaholism, and busy-ness.
When you're in a relationship and practice non-attachment, you’re surrounded by love. You give love, you receive love, and you are love. And love is a powerful antidote to fear — which most entrepreneurs experience as their businesses grow. When you're giving and receiving and surrounded by love, you tend to dare a little more greatly in your business.
3. Find Fun Friends
Many solopreneurs end up isolating themselves, which leads to disconnection, which steals your joy and creativity. Find friends who aren't entrepreneurs, who don't speak self-development language, and who are, well, fun! They go on long-weekend trips; they dance and do yoga; they drink and party. You’re not having deep, serious conversations each and every time. All of that fun relieves stress. Most entrepreneurs, especially women, will think, “I don't have time to have fun.” But the more fun you have, the more fun gets injected into your business. We have it backwards. Fun is an investment; fun is what energizes your business to the next level.
4. Begin Single-Tasking
You could generalize and say that men are like lasers and women are like lighthouses. Men tend to be focused straight ahead. Women have a diffuse attention span that notices everything and goes in all directions, like water. To succeed in business, women don't need to become men (please don’t!) but we can borrow that laser-focus skill.
Single-task for short periods of time: Do one thing after another, in a linear and sequential fashion. That leads to being less overwhelmed, it provides a sense of completion, and it removes the looming dread that there is always too much to do. This is a skill that needs to be practiced over and over again. You won't wake up one day and say, ”I nailed it. I’m laser focused." But the day will come when you realize that a to-do list is like hair. It grows, you cut it; it grows, you cut it. No one is overwhelmed by the fact that hair grows! Treat your to-do list in the same way: The goal is not to finish the list; it's to take one thing at a time.
5. Ask for Forgiveness, not Permission
It can feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders when you’re waiting on people for answers. And many women are people pleasers. We want to make sure that we don’t hurt anyone, that everyone is heard and seen and cared for. Stop trying to please everyone! If there are things that you’re waiting on, just do it; just rip off the Band-Aid. If someone’s offended, take care of it, clean up your actions. The human spirit is resilient, and it’s so much easier to move forward in life if you just do it and clean it accordingly, knowing that most of the time, someone’s reaction has nothing to do with us, but with their own inner turmoil.
A very practical example: I asked a few clients to write testimonials for my website, but they were sitting on the project for months. One day I just wrote down what they said to me in our sessions and placed them on my website. At the time I thought I had broken this massive confidentiality bond. But a few clients emailed me later saying, “I love your website! I’m on it!” They were so honored to be featured on my website. I tortured myself for so long, chasing them for testimonials, and all along I could have just moved forward with them. Giving yourself permission allows yourself more freedom in your business and in your life.
6. Schedule Buffer Time
I used to schedule back-to-back-to-back meetings. I was anxious and rushing to wrap up a meeting, and then anxious and often late to the next meeting. A potential client had called me a tornado. She lovingly said that, but it really hit home. I didn’t want to be a whirlwind who blows in and out, never grounded.
Now, I schedule buffer time before and after meetings, and before and after phone calls. Buffer time includes transit time. In our head, transit time is always shorter than the reality. We think, “We can get there in 15 minutes,” and it doesn’t include the five minutes to locate your keys, the 10 minutes to get to the car, and so on. Another example of buffer time is resting between calls or between meetings. Allow yourself 15 minutes to take a breath, go to the restroom, or have some water. Schedule lunch, too! Actually book it in your calendar: Schedule a one-hour slot to eat lunch. I have way too many clients who, by the time we talk at 3 pm, haven’t even had lunch yet. And that’s not OK. After you book these buffer times, you’ll find yourself more mindful. You’re more present, you’re not rushing, and therefore you’re not making blunders — dinging your front bumper or tripping on a rock as you’re walking. In that calm, you get washed by the feeling that everything is A-OK. And that feeds your business Zen and from there on, a lineup of clients and profit flow right on in.
7. Learn About the Law of Attraction
Learning about the Law of Attraction is one of the best investments I ever made for my business. Before, I thought I had to do everything myself. I thought I had to control every outcome and do all the heavy lifting. Now, I’ve grown into a place where I’m comfortable with uncertainty. It’s a gentle surrender of, “Yeah I can’t control much. I’m going to let a bigger power co-create with me.” It allows the real you to come through. I’ve landed some of my best clients not because of video marketing or social media. I attracted them because we crossed paths, I was me, and I was giggly and radiant and happy from within. I was the best version of myself.
In short, these investments and shifts are not as easily trackable as income, the number of clients you have, or your growth percentage. Yet they were the most impactful and transformational investments I ever made. They translated to more clients, a waiting list, and better support staff, and much greater impact on a global scale to set women free. So ask yourself: People will invest in stock markets, because they put money in to get money out. They’ll invest in real estate. But what will it take to invest in the things you cannot measure? What will it take to invest in you?
Tina Chen is a member of the DailyWorth Connect program. Read more about the program here.