By Mallory Loone
When I first started my journey as a woman entrepreneur, I was told that the biggest challenge for women in business is our ability to deal with our emotions and mental stress because we tend to worry and overthink unnecessarily.
Being young, and maybe naive, I took those words seriously and locked away my emotions, ignored my fears and remained positive throughout my entrepreneurial journey. But after many challenges, I realised that those were the biggest mistakes I made. COVID-19 was a clear reminder of those. My mistakes.
The reality today is that we live in a “new normal” of Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity (VUCA). How can anyone get by these days without an ounce of worry, stress, anxiety or breakdown?
As the co-founder of Work Inspires, I am in the business of people engagement and development for corporates and graduates. Currently, all I hear are worried voices and emotional confusion amongst young people.
I have now come to realise that being “emotional” and “worried” had allowed me to Dance with Uncertainties. I dedicate this article to all the worried youths and young ladies out there struggling with their mental and emotional wellbeing.
Acknowledgement and acceptance
When the Movement Control Order (MCO) started, we were all thrown out of our routine. We quickly followed what others were doing and started to be productive. I learnt new skills and baked, exercised, cooked, cleaned and explored the many sites and sessions hosted. After hustling for about two weeks, I was mentally and emotionally “tired”. I was at home, yet tired. Why? After much reflection, I realised that I did not let myself “grief”.
I did not make time for emotions. I got thinking and it dawned on me that many of us do not want to worry or feel pain. But, here’s the reality, you are entitled to feel tired, worried or afraid. Only when you acknowledge your fears, can you be mentally and emotionally prepared and be stronger.
So how can you acknowledge and accept reality?
1. Reflect on yourself
Find a space and time when you know there will be little or no interruption. Ask yourself, “How are you?” and be honest when you are answering. What are you feeling? Numb? Emotionless? Tired? Worried? If you prefer to journal yourself, write or draw it out. Allow yourself to acknowledge these answers.
2. Talk to someone
Speak to a mentor, friend, boss or anyone who will not judge you and will give you space to speak freely before offering advice or guidance when you are ready. Simply start with, “I am not okay, I feel … can I speak with you?” You’d be amazed how having someone to share your thoughts with can lift a whole load of your shoulders.
3. Create clarities by eliminating uncertainties
Through the advice or guidance given, prepare a plan with an idea of on where you are going and what to do next. If you are working, seek some clarity from your boss. If you’re looking to be hired, seek clarity on which companies are hiring and if you’re an entrepreneur, relook at your business plan to see what needs to change today, for tomorrow.
Turn Expectations into Appreciations
I know many of you, like me, started 2020 with big dreams and goals. We wanted that promotion, a new career or startup success. To see all those dreams put on hold now, makes us ask ourselves, “What’s the point? Why work hard? Why dream? Why stay positive?”. When we lose our drive, we’ll lose momentum and eventually we’ll be like a car running on fumes.
Peak Performance Coach Tony Robbins once said, “Trade your expectation with appreciation and the world changes instantly.” So, to recharge myself, I got two friends and started working on #powerchallenge. Inspired by Robin Sharma’s “Power Hour”, we committed ourselves to dedicating 20 minutes a day on exercise, 20 minutes to mindfulness or positivity and 20 minutes to learning and growth.
This #powerchallenge has taught me to appreciate and celebrate little wins, may it be through consistency in exercising, a new knowledge I acquired, made a friend happy or had a meaningful conversation with my mentors. When you learn to appreciate the little things, you’ll soon have the mental and emotional strength needed to prepare yourself for what’s to come.
Learn and Develop
After you have acknowledged, accepted and practised appreciation, it’s time to learn and grow. Throughout this period, we developed four pillars to help you prepare yourself for “what’s next” and this applies to all, regardless if you are working, studying or building your business.
The four pillars are:
Mindset: What mindset do you need to cultivate moving forward?
Skills: What skills do you need to grow or sustain in the next three, six, 12 or 24 months?
Tools: What are the tools available for you to achieve your goals? It can be a digital platform or even social media like LinkedIn.
Experience: Who can you turn to who has the experience you need to move forward?
Ask yourself those four questions and start sourcing for answers. Before you know it, you’re on a clearer path.
Robert Kiyosaki said, “The biggest risk a person can take is to do nothing.” My mantra is to do “Just One More (J.O.M) each day”. Aim for progression every day and not perfection someday.
Mallory Loone, known as the Entrepreneur with a Heart for People, is the Co-founder and Creator of Opportunities of Work Inspires, a people engagement and development company that has worked with many Fortune 500 companies.