Grief- Your surprising tool for momentum

Business momentum is when a series of “events” build upon each other, and multiply their efforts. It’s when your business starts to have some steam of its own, and you get carried along for the ride. For instance, we had some February sunshine here in Portland, and I went bicycling. Each time I pedalled was an “event.”

But, that pedaling only creates momentum that carries me forward when I’m not peddling IF…

IF I don’t stop after every time I pedal. IF I choose a destination and move towards it. Every time I stop, or make a sharp turn, I lose the momentum I’ve been building.

To build momentum in your business you need: 1) a direction and destination, 2) a vehicle, and 3) a continuous series of “events” – similar to pedaling.

Okay, got it. What’s grief got to do with it?

To work towards momentum requires you to make what is often a very difficult choice– to say “Yes” to one thing, and to say “No” to something else, usually several somethings.

No matter how great the “Yes” is, the “No” still registers in your heart as a loss. As much as you might want to only focus on how good the “Yes” feels, the grief of the “No” is there, whether you acknowledge it or not. Collect enough unacknowledged “No”s, and your decisions become harder and harder, as you are trying to move forward through more and more grief-sludge.

Because the feeling of loss can be uncomfortable, it’s easy for it to go underground, and may be part of why you are finding it difficult to do the things you know you need to do to create business momentum. Look for grief in these two areas:

First grief: Time lost

Like me, you’ve no doubt imagined that you would be living a life that looks a little different than the one you have. You thought your business would be further along, your love life settled, your bank account bigger, your novel published. Whatever it is, you cherish hopes and dreams, and they haven’t all come through yet.

The illusion that you should already already be there, gets in the way of actually accomplishing those dreams. It will be far easier to move forward if you grieve how it feels to have spent so much time and still not have your dreams, than to continue carrying the burden of your illusion. Once grieved, the path to your dreams will be a lot easier to walk.

Second grief: Choices lost

If you live to be 80 years old, you’ll have lived 960 months. At age forty, you’ve got 480 left. It’s a sobering truth that you can’t do everything you want. You probably can’t even do half of all your dreams. But, you can accomplish some of them IF you choose.

The ocean or the mountain?

In my bicycling adventure, I can’t ride out to both Astoria on the Oregon coast and inland to Mount Hood on the same day. Because those rides are each a day or more, I need to choose. If on Saturday I’m attached to both Astoria and Mount Hood, tough luck. I need to choose one, grieve the other, or be left with not deciding at all, and not getting to either of them.

It’s the same in your business. You may have two different directions you can go in: trying to sell your product to big companies, or to small business owners. Take it from me: you can’t do both at the same time. Once you build one up successfully, you can switch to the other. But the marketing message and methods are going to be different for each. You need to choose one, and grieve the other. If you try to do both, you won’t get anywhere.

Grief equals Freedom.

Grieving in a healthy way is actually incredibly freeing. And that freedom is what you need in order to start working towards momentum.

How does grief work in these situations? How do you keep from getting caught in the undertow?

Keys to Momentum-Building Grief

• The first step is identifying the decision you’ve been avoiding.

Is it target market? Is it business structure? Is it your website? It can seem challenging to make a decision when you aren’t sure what’s right. I recommend making the best decision your heart can show you, and then noticing what happens. When you make a clear choice to let something go, even if it’s sad, it feels clean. But avoiding that choice can leave you feeling ‘tangled’ and dead.

• Anger is a natural part of grief. Retribution isn’t.

It’s definitely normal to feel angry when things aren’t the way we thought they would be. The best thing to do is use the anger to help you find the real sense of loss, and let the sadness and grief come out.

You know you are avoiding the sadness and grief if you start running continual stories of blame and/or fantasies of retribution. While addictive, these stories aren’t satisyfing, and they don’t change the situation. Every time you feel anger, question yourself: “Is there a loss of some sort that I don’t want to face?”

• Grief is messy. It’s okay to be messy.

If you really are grieving something, you’ll go through cycles of blame, anger, denial, bargaining, and sadness. And, you may feel great one day, down the next, great the day after. It probably won’t be nearly as big as if someone you love has died, but don’t underestimate the impact of grieving your dreams.

If you really let yourself go through this process, you’ll get to find some clarity, and you may be surprised to find your business moving into momentum, and living your dream!

Once you’ve let go of the “No”s and followed the “Yes” all the way through to your dream, you get a second chance. You can either go back and pick up one of your earlier dreams that you let go. Or, more likely, move forward into your next dream which you couldn’t have even imagined before.