PaddleDownStream2Being a new entrepreneur can be a wild ride. You are filled with emotions that swing from wildly optimistic and excited to near panic. You launch into business building activities with great hope only to be sidelined by unexpected roadblocks that knock the wind from your sails.

And it happens day after day.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

Have you ever been white water rafting? I have two children who work as raft guides so I’ve been on a few rafts. And I’m a firm believer that building a business should be like paddling a raft down river. Some days are easy and restful. You get to lay back in your raft and watch the sun glinting on the river like fairies playing. The water carries you sweetly forward with very little effort and you end the day filled with a calm peacefulness.

Other days you hit white water. You paddle furiously, listening carefully to the shouted instructions of your guide. You keep your feet tucked in tightly, holding you in the boat, while you watch eagle-eyed for unexpected rocks and weird eddies in the water that might indicate a bad spot. You get spray in your face and moments of shear exhilaration. You end the day happy and exhausted.

Then there are the paddle upstream days. These are the days we all dread. When it feels as if everything you do is wrong. No matter how hard you paddle, you end up staying in one place. It’s frustrating, hard, overwhelming. It takes a tremendous amount of energy with very limited results. If you continue to battle upstream, you will eventually wear yourself out and give up.

When this happens – STOP! Lovingly pat yourself on the back for all your good, if unproductive, effort. You did the best you could with the info you had at the time.

Next, take your judgment out of the picture. It doesn’t matter if June Cleaver from next door created an empire doing what you are attempting to do. You are not June. You are you. Comparing yourself to anyone else is hopeless and backwards. Beating yourself up is a waste of time. Instead, embrace your moments of failure as places to turn the boat around.

Breathe. This is super effective in opening the creative centers of your brain. Close your eyes and take three deep breaths. Keep breathing until you feel calm and relaxed. With your eyes closed, sort through your possible next steps.

Imagine your next steps, one at a time. Imagine taking that step, doing that action. Pause and note how it feels. Does it feel like shoulders-to-your-ears-furrowed-brow paddling upstream? DON’T DO IT!

Or is it more like white water rafting? Being carried forward in a wild, water-in-your-face, taking action, making decisions, laughing all the way ride? Go, Go, Go For It!

Or even the calm, still waters of floating downstream: Knowing that everything is happening just right and you are moving forward. Relax and enjoy it. Tomorrow will bring more white water.

Following Life Rule #1 allows you to move toward your dream more quickly and find more joy along the journey.

See you at river’s end!