We have a tendency to impose restrictions on our abilities and potential by creating glass ceilings for ourselves. It starts with arbitrary boundaries.
In recent months, I’d been working toward a certain fixed, arbitrary goal, when it came to my business and my income.
I had three income “buckets,” and I had decided how much revenue I wanted in each bucket, but by essentially capping my income in each of the buckets, I was unintentionally capping my potential. I wasn’t aware of that fact until I was forced to rework my numbers after a change in priorities: I wanted to shift my attention to focus more on one of my buckets in place of another. The only problem was that I couldn’t make the numbers work.
In order to reduce what was in one of the buckets, I had to increase what was in one or both of the others, but my self-imposed boundaries were forcing me to fit things neatly into a glass box.
I had unintentionally limited myself and my business with my revenue cap for one of my buckets. Not only that, I had also limited myself by my own willingness (or lack thereof) to do certain things. Here were the conditions I had set for myself.
Rule 1: I wanted to make x dollars.
My first mistake was that my income goal was arbitrary. At some point, I had decided I didn’t “need” more money, so there was no point in aiming for more of it. There’s nothing wrong with that, except that by limiting the revenue potential for my business, I was also limiting my ability to hire outside help, which completely interfered with Rule 2.
Rule 2: I wanted to work x hours.
My second mistake was that my work hours were arbitrary. Aiming to work only a certain number of hours or forcing myself into busy work by feeling compelled to work 9-5 was silly. There are days when I work three hours and get more done than on days I work twelve. A schedule needs to be about getting things done and moving goals forward, not working a set number of hours. Plus, just because work needs to be done doesn’t mean that I have to be the one to do it. If the workload starts to exceed my availability or abilities, I should hire help. If I hired help, though, that would mean I’d have to take on more clients, which interfered with Rule 3.
Rule 3: I wanted x number of clients.
My third mistake was that the number of clients my business served was arbitrary. If I had more help, I could serve more clients. Period. There was nothing stopping me from taking on more clients, except that to take on more clients meant that I needed more clients, which meant that I’d have to generate more leads and take my marketing to the next level. I could, in theory, start an affiliate program, which would help me “duplicate myself” and generate more clients, but in order to have an affiliate program, I’d need affiliates, and the only way to get affiliates is to pay them, which definitely interfered with Rule 4.
Rule 4: I wanted to make x dollars per client.
If I started an affiliate program, it would need to be so worthwhile that people would want to be a part of it, which meant I would need to pay my affiliates well. If I paid my affiliates well, that would definitely reduce what I made per client, which meant that I’d need to have more clients in order to make the same amount of money, which interfered with Rules 1, 2 and 3.
I started to realize the absurdity of my self-imposed rules and decided to challenge every one of them. Who said I had to limit my potential and that of my business? Who said I couldn’t hire help and serve more clients? There were no rules or limitations on how I played this game, except for the ridiculous ones I was setting for myself.
I realized the importance of stopping and checking in with myself every once in a while to see if I was forcing myself into some glass box that I had created. Many times, we think outside influences and obstacles are affecting our progress, when really we’re getting in our own way and holding ourselves back.
Challenge your own rules. Challenge your own assumptions and limitations. Why do you have them? Are they serving a purpose, or are you simply not thinking outside your own glass box?
Image from Flickr by Nikki L.