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3 Ways You’re Subconsciously Punishing Yourself in Business

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You’ve been working hard all month. You’ve been publishing your posts on social media. You’ve been drumming up the leads. You’ve even been putting in extra hours so you can make sure you leave no stone left unturned when it comes to signing new clients. Yet, you’re ten days away from the end of the month and all you can think about is what you didn’t do. The things that you should’ve done (or done better). How you would’ve been further along or even surpassed your income goal if you would have just done the thing that taunts your mind.

This cycle isn’t just annoying or draining—it’s toxic to you and your business. 

If you find yourself working hard, going above and beyond in your business, to the point of burning out or falling out of love with what you do—you’re likely dealing with punishment mentality. Punishment mentality is where you make yourself suffer through things that should bring you joy and fulfillment—like running your business.

Punishment mentality leads to resentment. Resentment of your business, your clients, even life itself at times. It’s why you see some business owners burn their businesses to the ground after crossing the seven-figure mark. When you’ve been at this for too long and you’ve learned to use your purpose as a whip to flog yourself with, your love for your business slowly dies. 

The good news is that there’s another way. But before you know what to do about it, you need to know the warning signs. Here are some of the common red flags that you could be subconsciously punishing yourself in your business.

1. Drill Sergeant Syndrome

How many times have you been pushing through something in your business, and you say to yourself, “My feelings don’t matter. I just have to get it done.” While honoring your agreements is noble, if you find yourself saying this often, you may want to look at the agreements that you’re making. 

Being in your business shouldn’t be something you have to force yourself through. Yes, you will be challenged and there will be tough moments—but let’s be real. There are always moments where you’re being stretched. It’s normal. 

What makes those moments feel harder and super painful isn’t the moment or situation itself. It’s the way you talk to yourself and treat yourself through the situation. That drill sergeant in you telling you that you should be perfect, or that bad things shouldn’t happen, or that you should have a perfect morning routine, or all of the other shoulds that make you feel not up to snuff. 

All of those shoulds, all of those expectations that voice in your head has for you—they’re not realistic. The secret to having a seven-figure business and feeling open, relaxed, spacious, and revitalized every day, is to have a deep sense of love and compassion for yourself, your team, and your clients. It’s not being lazy, it’s being open, compassionate, and fluid.

“Self-compassion-being supportive and kind to yourself, especially in the face of stress and failure-is associated with more motivation and better self-control.” — Kelly McGonigal

2. Comparison

If you completed your first launch of a program and you signed five clients but your goal was 10, do you get down on yourself or celebrate? Most often, you punish yourself for not hitting the goal and you focus on the gap. You don’t celebrate the five souls that just said yes, but instead, you focus on the loss of the five people that passed. 

This process of focusing on the gap causes you to magnify and amplify the difference between your expectations and your results. Then you enter an even more dangerous zone when you compare yourself to someone who launched their program and it succeeded way beyond their expectations. But there’s a fundamental flaw to this comparison game.

You don’t know how many times it took the other person to drive those results. You didn’t see their failures and fears and moments of challenge. Instead, you compared their spotlight moment to your behind-the-scenes footage. That’s like comparing someone who’s learning how to grow a little pot of cilantro in the window to a commercial farmer who’s been producing crops since before they could spell the word tractor.

When you focus on what’s in the gap instead of what you have, you focus on the cycle of lack. Focus on what you created and appreciate it—that is how you elevate your business. In that process of celebrating your wins and focusing on what’s working, people then see you differently because you see yourself differently. An excessive amount of self-celebration is required to end the subconscious self-punishment habits many business owners have.

3. The Hard Work Myth

Growing up, you likely heard about how noble it is to work hard and earn what you have. However, there’s an inherent flaw in this line of thinking. Working yourself to the bone and bringing money into the business are two completely different concepts. You can work hard and barely have anything to show for it (ask any Denny’s wait staff). And similarly, you can work 20-30 hours a week and amass wealth that most of the population can only imagine. 

You don’t have to work hard to earn what you have. Receiving can come from something as simple as sharing one sentence with a client that forever changes their life, business, or results. Receiving comes from the exchange of value, not the blood, sweat, and tears that you shed while creating the outcome.

Not only do you not have to work hard to receive the money you desire, but you don’t have to work hard to enjoy the money that you do have either. There is no payoff to working hard. This is factory worker mentality and it doesn’t work for entrepreneurs. Working hard for what you make isn’t required. It’s required for you to take care of yourself. Get plenty of sleep, take care of your body, rest your mind—all of the things that help you to stay out of burnout. 

When you work, you really work. You’re dedicated, committed, and all-in—working diligently and effectively. But you also take care of yourself just as intensely you work. You create the space to recharge so that you can work consistently without harming yourself physically, mentally, or emotionally. You’ll be surprised how much more productive you become when you stop working hard and start working effectively.

It’s the subtle things…

Punishing yourself in your business can look like you simply trying to do a good job. You show up. You push yourself. And you don’t leave your chair until your energy is depleted. But that’s not how you build a healthy relationship with your business. 

Can you imagine sitting down with a new person, day after day, and not getting a break until you were ready to go to sleep? You’d get tired of that person really quickly and grow to resent them because you would feel bound, obligated, and stuck. This also happens with your business. 

Luckily, these are simple shifts that you can make to create more freedom and stop using your business as a torture device. Give yourself structured time and space to work on yourself with grace and acceptance. Stop trying to force yourself through the challenges. And learn ways to work more efficiently instead of working yourself to the point of exhaustion. You are worthy and deserving of a business that you love. Be kinder to yourself.

Juliana Garcia is a Latina online entrepreneur who has created a $2.5 million dollar business helping skilled coaches clarify their marketing message to attract premium clients. She has pioneered a cutting-edge, client-centric approach that breaks the old-school marketing rules and focuses on selling through intimacy, integrity, strong mindset tools, and zero BS. Juliana’s early marketing career involved working on the launch of the movie Think & Grow Rich: The Legacy, and Napoleon Hill’s work has had a strong influence on her approach. Juliana’s company is focused on helping coaches set new standards for what’s possible in the coaching industry so they can create a rich, fulfilling, and sustainable business without the burnout. Juliana’s insights have been featured in Forbes and more.

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