Opening a business requires a task-oriented mindset. I remember having infinite checklists during the nine months of prior to opening my studio. It feels great to hit milestones and progress toward the day when the venture becomes a living, breathing reality. The problem is that we operate for so long in launch mode that we don’t know how to switch gears after opening.

Starting a business requires a million small steps to reach one goal. Whereas running a business is comprised of a million small goals but no single path to success. I constantly juggle the big picture and the day to day tasks of managing my team and my expectations. When all is well, I feel relaxed and successful. When all is going poorly, I drown in a whirlwind of self-loath. Both of these are emotional responses and a result of being a checklist entrepreneur. Responding as if a single day will make or break a business.

This is the paramount of my challenges as a business owner. I’m not scared of bad reviews or staff drama. I don’t balk in the face of a rude customer or the unexpected hitch in a plan. But when I can’t control the day to day, I begin to live like my business will fold. Or, even more dangerous, I get too comfortable with the success I’m experiencing, and I meltdown when things don’t stay the same.

We, as entrepreneurs, have to learn to live in the bad times as if they are the good times.  If we want a lifestyle business, we have to learn how to ignore the emotional responses and look through the lens of a long-term plan.

The lesson here extends far beyond entrepreneurship. You don’t have to be a business owner to struggle with letting your circumstances dictate your emotions. My challenge to myself is to not turn a blind eye to my circumstances because ignoring a problem is a surefire way to remain stuck. Instead, I’m trying to learn how to leave it all at the office. I tell my employees to “check their emotions at the door” when they get to work.  I’m the opposite. I need to check my worries at the door when I leave to go home to my husband and dog because my business doesn’t define me.

It doesn’t.

Howbeit, I like being defined by what I do. Be it shallow to admit, there it is. We all have that one thing that we feel gives us identity. Maybe it’s a career, blog, relationship, or position as a parent. While we all know that what we do shouldn’t define us, we toss that piece of advice around like a nice catch phrase and never put it into action.

For me, that begins with cutting out the worry-filled speech. It’s leaving the stress where the stress belongs. It’s remembering that during my time with my husband and friends, they deserve my utmost attention. If you find yourself plagued by circumstances, decide on a small, doable step towards not letting the thing control you. Focus on mastering that one step, and see where it takes you. I’m in it with you, promise.