When The Going Gets Tough

September 02, 2016

An entrepreneur’s life is obviously full of ups and downs. Sometimes it’s a stretch of period where it’s all rosy for a few weeks followed by bad news after bad news for another few weeks. Sometimes though, the good and the bad happens in one day! There were times when I was just numb, too busy to dwell over the bad news and just focus on the next task in hand. But there were also times when it’s what I thought about day in day out and I lose sleep over it.

Anyway, at this very moment, Alhamdulillah, things are under control in the office. But still, knowing that the path is made of hills and valleys, I would like to write in here things that have kept me going in the past so next time when I need a pick-me-up I can use this list as a reminder. I believe this list can also be used for non-entrepreneurs and everyone in general :).

1. Give yourself a lot of LOVE!
Yes, it’s time to be kind and gentle to yourself. Often time, we emphasize on our weaknesses way more than our strengths, especially this period of time where self-esteem goes down the drain. We switch into self-pity mode which without us realizing it, send message to our mind that we are incompetent and powerless. Then we start to behave in a negative way that impacts the way we talk to people and how they see us and it will only make things worse. 

We often associate our self worth with job title, wealth, money in the bank and we feel worthless when things go wrong in one of those aspects. Actually, self worth shouldn't be defined on what we do or with other material things, It's actually the intangible things like how much love we have and receive, our knowledge, talents, our character, our values, our experiences and other things that cannot be taken away from you. I learned this during my days in my Psychology class in college and I remember during that time I was also so moved by Whitney Houston Greatest Love of All. The song made me understood that I have to learn to depend on myself and to build myself on the things that people cannot take away from me no matter what happens. I've experienced quite a few different level of status and wealth since I was little and I'm grateful that those don't change who I am. It helps describe me, but who I am on the inside have nothing to do with that. 

I decided long ago, never to walk in anyone's shadows
If I fail, if I succeed
At least I'll live as I believe
No matter what they take from me
They can't take away my dignity
Because the greatest love of all
Is happening to me
I found the greatest love of all
Inside of me
The greatest love of all
Is easy to achieve
Learning to love yourself
It is the greatest love of all

So yes it's super important to love and respect yourself. In fact, nothing is more important than how you feel and you think about yourself. When you are content and have that inner stability, you don’t need validation from others and what others think of you become none of your business.  During one of the early tough days, I wrote an affirmative paragraph and saved it on my phone. I read it EVERY MORNING in front of the mirror. I won’t give the exact paragraph in here but it’s more or less something like this:

“Halo, nama saya Hanifa Ambadar. Saya CEO dari Female Daily Network. Saya bangga dengan diri saya. Apa yang saya lakukan bla bla bla bla. Saya bermanfaat untuk orang lain. Saya bersyukur dengan apa yang saya punya, saya seorang ibu dan istri yang baik and so on and so forth”. Pokoknya tulis aja semua yang kita harapkan dari diri kita, read it outloud and smile while you are doing it. I still read it up until now whenever I'm feeling down.

There was also a time when I emailed 5 people that are close to me to tell me 5 positive things that they see from me. The answer surely gave me a huge smile. So if you still need outside help to make you realize that you're enough, you've done enough and you're special in your own way, then this is how you do it. 

2. Focus on WHERE you’re going not what you’re going through
Embrace the difficulty and understand that it happens to any businesses and many have had it even worse! Jangan take it personal, it’s just a stage we all have to go through and learn from. I always think and BELIEVE that something awesome is about to happen. Mendingan mikir gitu kan daripada mikirin the worst scenario yang belum tentu juga terjadi? Dengan mindset yang bener, kita jadi lebih bisa untuk fokus ke solusinya.

3. Deal with FACTS, not FICTION
Don’t let your imagination run wild dan jadi tambah mikir yang negatif, the what-ifs, the what could be dan skenario-skenario menyeramkan lainnya sampai googling hal-hal kaya ‘how to tell your team you can’t pay their salary’ misalnya. Well, until we really have no money to transfer then never have that scenario clouding our mind. I know it’s tempting to do that but it won’t get you anywhere.

4. Get out of routine and get inspired
When we feel like we are stuck in a situation, perhaps it’s better to take a few steps out, divert our mind to other things so se can refresh our mind and see the situation from a bigger picture. Nggak mesti yang sampe taking spiritual journey gitu sih, as simple as..kerja dari luar kantor, cobain tempat makan baru, staycation, taking a different route and mode of transportation, watch movies, listen to songs with motivating lyrics, meet long lost friends, etc. 

5. Find small win
Sometimes, all we need to do is a small milestone to make us feel accomplished thus more confident. Misalnya, finally finishing the book you’ve been abandoning for a while, run an accumulate of 10K in a week, leaving that one bad habit for a few days, cleaning the inbox to zero, fixing a broken gadget. Intinya, lakukan hal-hal kecil yang bisa memberi kita rasa puas dan juga energi. Kalo kaya gue sih pastinya….beres-beres! Decluttering is a therapeutic thing for me. Rasanya buang-buang barang itu bikin kaya gue juga buang-buang pikiran nggak penting. Setelah liat rumah yang lebih rapi pikiran jadi lebih damai. Once you feel great about what you’ve just achieved then you’ll feel more in charge of your life and hopefully you can keep the momentum going.

6. Invest in yourself
Exercise sih udah pasti. Get up early, get moving and get your sweat on! Kalo bosen olahraga yang itu-itu aja, coba olahraga baru dong. I’ve tried everything! Dari mulai zumba, barre, hot barre, muay thai, yoga, pilates, TRX, masterbootcamp, hip hop, working out with a PT, using barbell, kettle bell, dumbbell, lari, belly dance, body pump, body language, body combat, lari, ikutan race dan lain-lain. Kayanya tinggal pole dancing dan tai chi aja yang belum. I also like to try new places to exercise. I just like to try different things and just curious to know what else is there to try.  Selain olahraga, pastinya makan sehat. I’m not as strict anymore when it comes to food, and I eat about 70% clean - 30% junk, but I know just how healthy food can boost one's mood and energy. Berasa banget kalo lagi lebih sering makan-makanan nggak sehat langsung bloated dan feeling sluggish. Selain olahraga dan makan sehat pastinya masih banyak lah yang bisa dilakukan seperti ikut seminar/workshop, read books, learn new skill, getting enough sleep, a little bit pampering at the spa, etc. Anything that your future self will thank you for. 

Share apa? Anything. Bisa dengan ngirimin makanan ke keluarga/teman/partner, beliin kado untuk teman, beliin lunch untuk teman sekantor, bayar zakat/sedekah, kasih makan/uang ke pemulung, berkunjung ke panti asuhan, bayarin tol untuk mobil yang di belakang kita, kasih tips lebih untuk waiter/supir taksi/ojek, kasih baju-baju yang udah nggak dipakai ke ART di rumah, share knowledge dan pengalaman ke siapapun yang membutuhkan, share cerita/tulisan di blog. Anything lah. Intinya dengan berbagi, we’re emptying a space in our life so we have some space to receive more blessings :). Lagipula dengan bikin orang lain seneng itu kita juga akan ngerasain positive feeling yang namanya helper’s high. So let’s be the reason someone smile today 😃

8. Find mentors
Mentors or fellow entrepreneurs, pokoknya orang-orang yang optimistic, yang pernah menjalani journey yang sama. Jangan cerita sama orang yang parno-an yah, kelar deh nanti bikin tambah panik. Dengan cerita ke mentor memang sih mungkin nggak akan membereskan masalah, but knowing someone makes time to listen to your story, giving you a pat in the back and giving you words of encouragement is more than enough. And sometimes, they just ask the right questions that point to the right direction. I once cried in front of my mentor cause I was just so scared and he helped put things in perspective, stating all the positive things that happened to me recently and wondering why I beat myself up over things that all companies go through in the scaling up stages.  After I was done with the meeting I felt like a huge monkey had been lifted off my shoulders. I went home with a clearer direction on what to do in the short and long term. 

9. Make time for the family!
It’s normal to want to work and work and work when you have so much at stake but it still important to find time for your family no matter how hard the situation is. You already have problems at work you cannot afford to have problems with your family too. Afterall, they are the source of your strength, the reason why you don’t want to give up so they deserve the best version of yourself too. Don’t let the challenges you face put a distance between you and your loved ones. Hide the laptop for a little bit, put the phone away and just concentrate on your family, talk to them, play with them, cook for them, have a dinner date. Cooking for my family gives me a sense of contentment, and my kids are very generous when it comes to complimenting the food I cook and usually after spending a day with the kids I feel  more energized and more content. I guess knowing I’m needed and can still  make a difference in other’s life makes me feel so much better. I make it a point to visit my grandma too or call her once in a while. 

10. Be Grateful
Because despite of everything, you are still lucky to live the kind of life you are living now and will not trade it for anything. Everyone has their own struggle it just they choose to show the good sides of it. There are many things to show how grateful we are. I wrote down the 3 things I find grateful everyday for a month and it helped a lot! I should continue doing that. It somehow gave me positivity and self-assurance and made me truly grateful for every little thing that I’ve taken for granted. Of course, like most people, I prayed like I’ve never prayed before. Crying late at night on my sajadah is a two way conversation with my master up there. Just believe that he is there, listen to your every prayer and that he will ease your worry away. If he is not making it all come true yet have faith that it means he is preparing something even grandeur for you. You just have to prepare yourself to be ready for that when the time comes :). 

In the end, when the going gets tough, try to find humor in everything and KEEP GOING because when you hit rock bottom, there's no other way but up, right? 

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