5 Steps to Recover When it All Falls Apart

It’s a common theme in my inbox this month.  I wish I had all the answers.  So many are struggling with how to keep going and get through challenges.  Some of the challenges are smaller than others.  Everything from new opportunities vs current ones, to serious health challenges in the family, to hacked servers and flooded email boxes dealing with the fallout, and more.

(Personally I’m blaming Mercury for being retrograde right now, it’s like the Murphy’s Law of the astrological world.)

But there’s no way around it.  Sometimes things all fall apart.

If creating your own entrepreneurial business were easy, everyone would be doing it and everyone would be succeeding.  They’re not.  We’ve chosen a challenging path.

Is it rewarding?  Yes!  Is it worth it?  Yes!  But you’d better believe it’s not always easy.

A million and one things can go wrong from technology and employee/outsourcing issues we have to clean up, to making mistakes ourselves (we ALL make mistakes), to family or health challenges, to plain old overwhelm hitting.

And we’re only human.  At some point, we hit a wall.

You can be full steam ahead, giving it your absolute best, and still not hitting the mark you want to hit, not getting everything on your list done, and not happy with yourself.

Ever been there?

Here’s some action steps to help you fix it.

1.  Get real with yourself.

Sit down and evaluate where you’re at, what’s gone wrong, and what you need to get done to get back on track.

Getting this list together isn’t always easy but it’s where you’ve got to begin.  Just getting things written out will help you start putting things back together.

The sooner you do this, the better.

2.  Prioritize and triage.

Go through your list and prioritize.  What are the most important commitments and tasks to complete first?

I use A, B, C to prioritize (A = must be done ASAP, C = least important at the moment) and then number tasks in the order they need done (so the list becomes A1, A2, A3, B1, B2, C1, C2, C3, C4).

Block out time on your calendar to work through the tasks and put yourself into that seriously focused mode you know you can to really start knocking things out.

If you’ve got projects or tasks clients are waiting on, just get in touch and give them an update of when you’ll get it done.  Most people will be understanding with you if you just stay in contact.  Pick up the phone if you need to.  Email often gets lost or stuck in spam filters.

3.  Keep going even when it’s not easy.

When it’s really tough, step back and refocus on your goals.  What’s the “big picture” that you want to accomplish?  What motivated you to start your business or the current project?  Where is it going?

Take time out to care for yourself, too.  Sometimes that lack of time for ourselves is what puts us into the overwhelm and burnout.  Even if it’s 15 minutes or half an hour, do something that nurtures YOU and keeps you grounded and able to move forward.

4.  Rely on your support.

Where can you bring in help?  This can be especially challenging if you help is the reason you’re in a tough spot and you can’t rely on them.  So you may need to find someone else to step in.  Get recommendations from friends, colleagues or the reliable members of your team.

Share as much of your workload as you can with your support team but make sure it’s the effective parts — go back to your list from step 1.  That’s your only focus right now.

And call in your coach or mastermind group to help you.  Find someone you trust to talk with.

5.  Step back, evaluate, and make changes.

Depending on the degree of “fall apart” you’re dealing with, it can be really tough.  It’s hard to show up and say, “Hey, I screwed up, here’s how I’m fixing it…” or “My team screwed up, and that’s ultimately MY responsibility, so here’s what I’m changing to make sure it doesn’t happen again…”   But we’ve got to do it.

Take time to evaluate just what caused meltdown.

Do you need to take time away to support family through something?  Time for yourself to get healthy?  Take a big step back if you need to, keep the minimum going, and then come back full steam when you’re able.

Or is it a crazy event that just triggered an avalanche?  What can you do to be more ready for that next time?

If you can’t figure out what needs to change, call in your coach or mastermind group and have them help you identify your blind spots and strategize what smart changes you can make.

Your Turn

What do you do to pull out of the tail spin that sometimes happens in business?  Whether it’s too many projects at once, or the lovely ball of stress that happens when your site gets hacked or bad things happen that push you way off schedule… what works for you?

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35 Comments

  1. I think this post came at the right time for me, in life.

    1. I hope the ideas are helpful in moving beyond that time, Gautham. It’s a challenging place to be.
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… What Size Should That Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest/YouTube/G+ Image Be?My Profile

  2. All great points Michelle. I start with taking a short break to relax. Then I come back to prioritize and triage. I love that idea to triage. I try to break down projects in small steps so I can make progress faster and with less stress.
    Julia Neiman recently posted… 8 Patterns of Self-SabotageMy Profile

    1. Small steps are a great strategy. It’s so much easier to move forward again when we can break down the “big” things into 10 or 15 minute tasks we can complete and build momentum.
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… How to Create Pinnable Image QuotesMy Profile

  3. There are times when I feel that my entire life is spiraling out of control. Money is tight, I have three small children, my time is stretched past its limits a lot of time. I have actually discovered that a lot of the time, I need to have an emotional breakdown in order to get myself back in a right attitude. Sometimes, when I know that things are going to be a bit crazier than normal, I will actually schedule in a time for me to just break down and have a good cry. Something about letting those emotions escape and then you can fill in with happier ones.

    1. There are definitely times where emotions hit and we need to get them out. Knowing yourself and what you need is worth so much!
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… What Size Should That Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest/YouTube/G+ Image Be?My Profile

  4. I’ve found that when I feel like I’m working a losing battle that it’s best for me to step away. I’ll write everything down and try to prioritize — Generally writing it on paper even when it’s scary/overwhelming actually helps me see that it’s not NEARLY as bad as I’m imagining.

    Then I’ll step back and spend the day with my family and think about why I’m really doing what I’m doing. Sometimes that is enough of a break and stress buster for me. When I come back and sit down to my freshly outlined to-do list I’m much more focused and I get SO much more accomplished. :)
    Melissa B. recently posted… What inspires you to create?My Profile

    1. A break to get away can make a huge difference. I think sometimes our burnout is just a result of not taking those breaks often enough.
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Big Blog Mistake #3My Profile

  5. Wow, Michelle, you really know how to hit the nail on the head!! And yes, being Mercury Retrograde really can have some sort of effect on so many things I do. Being a Virgo doesn’t help o.O — Mercury is my ruling planet UGH OMG … so I am full of miscommunications, crashes, meltdowns …. at the same time, I see it as a way to get things done, make things better, and keep on muddling through until all is well in the world again … I’m that eternal optimistic cheerleader for everyone else … and sometimes lose track and forget to be my own cheerleader :)

    Your tips are so helpful! Thank you so much for posting this!!
    Kimberly ~ Gypsy recently posted… How You Can Build a Profitable List to Grow Your BusinessMy Profile

    1. I like that – “eternal optimistic cheerleader” – great title!

      But you need your own cheerleader, too. :)
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… How to Get Your Fan Page Shut Down by FacebookMy Profile

  6. This post brings back memories of a particular incident that occurred when I owned a tutoring program.

    An irate mother called to complain that her son hadn’t made any progress after two weeks of our after-school instruction. As the director and owner, the buck always stopped with me. I could tell that the mom was extremely upset so I just let her keep going until she got out all she had to say.

    As I listened to her, I began to empathize with her, realizing how frustrated she was to even have to seek after school instruction for her son, and then to have to pay for it out of her own pocket. I also realized that it took a lot of courage for her to call me when we hadn’t pulled off the quick turnaround she had hoped for.

    I wasn’t sure what I would say, but when she finished ripping me apart, words started to come to me. I thanked her for entrusting us with helping her son and for calling me when she felt we hadn’t lived up to her expectations. I praised her for caring for her son so much that she was making the financial sacrifice to get tutoring.

    I don’t remember all the rest of what I said to her, but by taking full responsibility for our program and not going on the defensive, she was consoled. She ended up apologizing and her son successfully completed our program.

    In that business and others I’ve had through the years, I’ve discovered that accepting the blame takes the steam out of upset. Then following stressful episodes, I love to get a massage or get away for the weekend. Everything looks different after that.
    Flora Morris Brown, Ph.D. recently posted… 10 Top Tips and Other Great Ideas for Creating Your Audio BookMy Profile

    1. Beautiful response, Flora. It’s amazing how it can turn things around if we’re able to step back, empathize, and come to a solution together. Thank you for sharing that, I know it’ll be helpful for those reading this post.
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Let’s Try a Different Kind of ChallengeMy Profile

    2. OMG! This almost made me cry.. Great example, thank you Flora..
      Gabi recently posted… Laundry Center!My Profile

  7. #5 is what I have been doing all month…drop back and punt? More like scrap the whole play and start over. But that was really freeing for me. I stopped trying to press myself into this restrictive mold and enjoy everything so much more!

    1. There are definitely times when scrapping the play is the smart move. Starting from square 1 with a new strategy can put new energy and life back into what we’re doing. :)
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… You’re Too Busy NOT To Stop and Do It NowMy Profile

  8. I’m a “step back and re-evaluate” kind of gal. Although it takes me quite a while to realize I’m in overload, sometimes. But when I do, I pull back & really get clear on what’s important, vs what I’m “good at”. I set up new boundaries (that will be tested soon enough) and get back in there and try again.
    Loralee Hutton recently posted… 5 Ways To Overcome Hurdles in Business: Part 5My Profile

    1. I’ve had to really pay attention to what my “early warning signs” of overwhelm are or I end up in deep overwhelm before I realize it. I try to stop frequently and ask myself where I’m at so I can adjust as needed. :)

      Isn’t it crazy how quickly those new boundaries get tested when you set them? Boundary. Challenge. Boom.
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… 5 Ways to Connect With Your Blog ReadersMy Profile

  9. What often helps for me is to step back and evaluate where I am now compared to where I was say, oh six months ago. Often we have come a lot further than we think, and when we become bogged down in the up-close and nit picky things of life, we don’t see the big picture. Doing this calms me, assures me I am capable of going even further, and the emotions are soothed as well. Thanks for the tips Michelle!
    Lynn Ruby recently posted… Top 3 Reasons You’re Not Using Video MarketingMy Profile

  10. Thanks for some great tips Michelle. I’m a walk away, calm down then re-assess type person. You made a good point about staying in touch with clients – by phone. I learnt the hard way a quick email often gets lost! Live and learn :)

  11. Great post Michelle. I would like to add that people should remember that this too shall pass. The fastest way to get through such a stage is to get busy doing something.
    Wade recently posted… 5 Reasons Why Herbalife Doesn’t WorkMy Profile

  12. I have a vision board of sorts. In fact, I like to write things down in notebooks and when things unravel, I go back to my notebooks and read what I wrote when I just started my business. That is just very inspiring to see where I started and where I am now.
    Wendy recently posted… What is a Hashtag?My Profile

  13. Great post Michelle, it applies to all of us, not just in business but in life too. When this happens to me and I notice it (because i don’t always realise at first that this has happened) I will either call someone who is not involved but is sensible, or take myself off for a walk across fields and work it all out in my head. If I’ve got a tough thing to do I set a kitchen timer to 10 mins and DO it as fast as possible.
    susi recently posted… Simple Daily Deep CleanseMy Profile

  14. I also do the A1, A2, B, etc. – setting time when I am at my best, like the beginning of the day to get things done works best for me, crossing items off as I go is encouraging.

  15. @florabrown is correct taking, accepting the blame takes the steam out of upset. When you meet steam with steam, BOOM! Explosion! Sometimes I take responsibility even when am not responsible because it makes moving on and finding solutions that much easier.

    Having the ability to step back and take mini relaxation breaks during the day keeps melt downs away but when it happens, one should be able to recover and move forward with these five practical tips.

    Thanks :-)
    Adalia John recently posted… How to stay motivated when self doubt sets inMy Profile

  16. I had to step back and go through a whole process of healing last year and I tend to do the step back, evaluate and make changes thing with smaller things as well.
    Leanne Chesser recently posted… What to Do When Your Life Gets Out of BalanceMy Profile

  17. This is the best post for me to be reading, Michelle. It’s been so absolutely crazy I haven’t been writing much of anything lately. Overwhelmed would best describe me right now, and it’s not a pretty place to be LOL. Great tips here …
    Katrina Moody recently posted… He gains! From Failure-to-Thrive to Healthy Living VictoryMy Profile

  18. Hey Michelle,

    A couple other things that help me are…

    1.) Don’t compare yourself to your competition. Focus on what you need to do for your own business rather than worrying about what everyone else is doing. You can control what you do. You can’t control what they are doing and wasting time worrying about it only keeps you from moving forward in your own business.

    2.) Don’t evaluate your progress so often. If you check your stats, rankings, etc. every single day then you’re more likely to get frustrated. Yes, these things can be important, but checking these things too often is like trying to lose weight and looking at yourself in the mirror every day. When you look in the mirror every day, you don’t see any changes and you get frustrated. But if you look once at the beginning of the month and again at the end of the month after you’ve put in some work, then you’re more likely to see the progress that you’re making.

    1. I totally agree! I think we often look at those who are way ahead of us and put way too much pressure on our selves!
      I have been feeling guilty because I haven’t posted in a while and I have noticed that others post multiple a week and some of them post every day, while I can barely manage to post once every couple of week!

      But I just started blogging in May and I still have so much to learn about blogging and everything that goes with it! I forget how much time I invest in studying and get frustrated when I don’t finish a project in time, or when I haven’t finished editing the pictures for my post and not being able to hit publish! I forget that life happens and it. is. entitled. to. do. so!! and. it’s. ok.

      Great additional points to this post Derek!
      Gabi recently posted… Divide And Conquer! Organizing Clothes!My Profile

  19. Hello ,
    Nice advise to getting the confidence in bad time. I agree with you all points, We Analise the points why we are falls at presents, making list the points and remove the bad points. In this way your article is very helpful for us. Thanks for sharing this.

  20. Dig deeper, as they say in the classics, when the going gets tough, the tough gets going!!!!
    Neil Butterfield recently posted… Fulvic Acid: The ignored super-foodMy Profile

  21. Thank you for this post. I think the main thing that you should avoid when things fall apart is giving up. I agree that you should take a break and then think about why things went wrong so you know how to handle the situation better next time.

  22. Great share , Really an informative post , thanks for sharing this useful information with us

  23. Great tips!!

    Also, never allow yourself to become the victim!!
    Decide to become the Victor!!

    Remember:
    It’s never as bad as it seems
    but it’s never as good as it seems

    sw

  24. Thanks you cheer me up. I love reading this post

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