Creating supportive environments is imperative to your success as an entrepreneur. It goes without saying that if you have environments that will support you and your passion, it’s going to be much easier and more enjoyable for you to do your work. In Part 2 of this series, I’m going to touch upon a few more of the environments that I believe are most essential to your success and well being.
Let me ask you something. Are you like me and by about mid-February, you’ve had it with the gray day after day? Not feeling sunlight for days at a time really affects my mood and my motivation levels. And sometimes, when you work at home, it’s easy not to go outside for days at a time. I try to make any effort to spend at least 15 minutes outside, soaking up some sun. What about natural light in your work space? Windows? Clean and fresh air? Are these things part of your everyday creative environment, as they should be?
If you aren’t getting enough natural light, fresh air, and can’t see the outside world, you are stunting your creative flow. If there is anything you can do to change or improve your natural environment in this way, I encourage you to do it now.
Your energy field is one of your most important environments. It doesn’t only include your own energy and the sources from which you get it, but it also includes the energy, positive or negative, that you get from your spouse, your friends, your children, your other family members, and your clients or customers.
Since our relationships are so important to us, it is very difficult sometimes to set appropriate boundaries, and we tend to tolerate behaviors and actions that are detrimental to our own well being. In order for you to be as successful as you want to be (remember that everyone’s definition of success is different), you need to take a hard look at the relationships that are not nurturing you, that are sending negative vibes into your energy field, and recognize that you are allowing it. And then you need to make adjustments.
You will either need to set clear and solid boundaries, or you will need to let go, as hard as that may be. I found I had to do this with a few very old friends several years ago. As much as we share a history that I treasure, when I was making some major transitions in my life, the only “support” they could give me was to remind me how miserable it all was, even when I had moved through the misery of it and had created a new and happy life for myself. They just wanted to stay stuck in the misery of it, and you know why…because they were miserable! It was hard, especially because we had a lot of mutual friends, but I have never regretted that decision. And you know what happened? Several new amazingly wonderful supportive friendships showed up in my life soon afterwards.
Cutting ties with old friends is hard, but dealing with not-so-supportive family members is even more difficult. My favorite tactic is to not react to anything they say or do, to just simply respond. It is very hard to not be attached to the feelings that a family member can arise in you (guilt, worthlessness, stupidity), but at some point you have to take back your power and not allow them to make you feel that way anymore. Their issues are their issues and you need to let them own that – don’t carry it for them.
I have found that when I am able to respond instead of react, they tend to give up and move on much faster. And each time I do this, I get better at it, and they get the message more and more clear. And suddenly I have found them on my side, being a cheerleader for my work and my life. Believe me that it is worth it to stand up for yourself with grace.
As for dealing with clients or customers who drain your energy, your best bet is to create an Ideal Client Profile and stick judiciously to it. The ICP is not a new concept, by any means, but it is one of the best ways to create an environment around your work that is full of supportive and wonderful people who love what you do and who make you want to do more for them because of it.
Choose one person, if needed, in both your personal and professional life to whom you either need to let go of, or set some clear boundaries with, and get to work.
You’ll find that your inner environment will improve as you make positive changes to your outer environment. In addition, making space in your mind for your creativity to flow is important for you to be able to bring your best self into the world.
One of the ways to do this is to invest a bit of time each day into writing what Julia Cameron calls “Morning Pages,” which is three pages of free writing at the beginning of each day to clear your mind of some of the unnecessary clutter. Sometimes what you write will seem trivial, but it’s that trivial stuff that takes up much needed space in your head! Other times you’ll enjoy some real breakthroughs. I highly recommend engaging in this practice. I have been journaling all my life, but the practice of Morning Pages really does help the creativity flow – besides that I believe that every life that is worth living is worth recording.
Your assignment then is to purchase a journal or notebook, or create a new file on your computer, and start tomorrow writing three pages of whatever comes to mind. Make this a daily practice and watch what happens.
Making an effort over time to create supportive environments for the things that are most important to you will open doors and opportunities that you might never have received otherwise. You deserve to be supported in your work and your life, so choosing to allow those people and things into it that bring out your best is not only a gift to yourself, but also a gift to the world.
I’d love to know your thoughts on creating environments that support you – please leave your comments below.