I honestly think something as simple as taking a walk can save your business. I am not even kidding. Let me explain by telling you a story of me losing my shit and how a walk stopped me from throwing it all away.
I was working on the agencies website on my laptop. It’s 6 in the afternoon and all I’ve been doing that day was trying to figure out this software to build the website. I spent the last 10 hours trying so hard to make this look cute and stick to a design pattern that is optimised for conversions. Every time the page started to look like something, I hated that “something”. It was straight up ugly. At least that’s what I thought.
After 10 hours of tryharding, I started to get frustrated, but, to be fair, the software wasn’t the problem! I was. I wanted it to be perfect and I didn’t realise that my perfectionism was keeping me from making progress.
At one point I tried to add some sort of widget because I thought it’d make it look better but it turned out even worse. I have never created anything I was so disappointed with. I sat back, stared at the screen for a few seconds and then I just closed the software without saving and cancelled my membership.
Just like that.
Along with frustration, the thought that I just wasted 10 damn hours on this stuff started getting into my head. I started panicking.
“What on earth am I supposed to do now?”
It felt like I was participating in some kind of race and I suddenly realised I’ve been running backwards for the last 10 hours. I immediately started looking for another page builder, found one, signed up for the free trial and started building the website from 0. If you can’t tell already, I was making some heavy weight decisions within a short period of time and they weren’t influenced by logic or strategic thinking. They were influenced by panic, frustration and FOMO. I was desperate to make up for all the time I wasted and I wanted to make up for it fast. There was no time to give things a second thought. I had to pick up the pace to make it through the finish line before everyone else.
So, I had just gotten familiar with the old website builder and now I had to get used to a new one. And this one was working a little bit different. I didn’t take the time to go through a tutorial because, remember, I was trying to win a race. But freestyling and randomly clicking on stuff to see what happens, didn’t give me the website I wanted. What a surprise. Things started to look stupid again and learning by doing was taking too much time I thought I didn’t have. I started panicking again.
Impatience, frustration and probably the fact that I have been sitting on my couch for 10 hours summoned this demon of a thought.
“Fuck this, this whole thing won’t work out anyway.”
I was sitting there, alone in the living room with tunnel vision on the problem. The longer I sat there the more bullshit my brain fabricated. In my head, it went something like this:
“I can’t figure this out. If I can’t figure this out, everything’s going to shit. If everything’s going to shit, I can’t do what i love and I’ll end up in some corporate job office and be unhappy for the rest of my life.”
Well, if jumping to conclusions was a sport, I’d be at the olympics.
Like the website alone had ANYTHING to do with wether this agency will succeed in the future or not. But I couldn’t see that, because I was so focused on the problem.
I was worrying if I was doing the right thing. Maybe I shouldn’t be doing this at all? My brain was foggy, filled with doubt and with the wrong questions and my eyes were red from all that screentime. So eventually, I decided to go for a walk.
And here’s how the simple decision of going for a walk stopped me from throwing it all away.
The second I stepped out of the building and I was breathing in all that fresh air my mind was clearing up. Like, literally.
I live in the city but not far from where I live there’s a small river with lots of trees and “nature stuff” around. This is where I go if I take walks and it’s where I went that evening too. As I was wandering along the river, with every step I took physically I mentally took one step away from all that problem-focused thinking. I actually stopped thinking at all. I was just walking. Thoughtfully walking without actually thinking. Do you know what I mean? If you don’t, try going for a walk if you can’t seem to figure something out.
Like, this thing was in my head, but I wasn’t sitting right in front of it. I couldn’t wrestle it anymore. I was forced to mentally sit down and to become aware of the situation. And I realised: It’s not that big of a deal. There was no race. I wasn’t behind. There was no competition. It was just me finding out that one thing didn’t work and that I had to simply try something else. Which is essentially part of the process and not a set back at all.
Suddenly, rather than negative thoughts, solutions started popping up in my head. Ideas were forming on how I could work through this, what steps I could take and I was able to make thoughtful, strategic and solution orientated decisions. I went from tunnel vision on the problem to a broadly open mind. All because taking a walk allowed me to step away from a difficult situation, take a breath and look at things from a different perspective.
The main takeaway
For me, it was taking a walk. For you it could be meditation, some kind of sport, having a nice cup of tea, calling a friend or whatever you like doing. The key to getting your shit back together is simply stepping away from this one thing that gets you worked up and taking a breath so you can focus on what really matters. In most cases wrestling with that thing for hours won’t get you anywhere. It’ll only make you tired.
Yes, something might need your attention RIGHT NOW. But what the hell good is your attention if you’re making idiot decisions based on emotions?
Yes, the agencies website needed my attention, but because I was so unhappy with how everything looked I was getting frustrated and most of all I got impatient. Wrestling with that stuff for 10 hours wasn’t getting me solutions. It was making me tired.
What I should have been doing was simply switching to a software that would give me more options on designing the website and learning how to use the software first to then start designing. Instead, I was getting so impatient that I just rushed into the new software, blamed it for being just another waste of my time and losing my shit. What was truly wasting my time was me focusing on the wrong stuff. Going for a walk changed that.
When I came back, I invested in this new website builder, bought the pro version with more design options, learned how to use it and then got to work. I am now building something I actually like. So if you take one thing away from this little rant, let it be this:
If there is something you’ve been wrestling with for hours and somehow you just can’t find a solution, take a few steps back. Breathe. Take a walk. Often what we’re looking for is right in front of our faces but we first need to clear our vision to see it.
Is there anything you’re struggling to figure out at the moment? How are you dealing with situations like this? Let me know in the comments!