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I was coaching one of my clients earlier today and she was complaining about something inconsequential in her business. She is in the midst of planning her first big launch, and there are a lot of details to keep track of, as well as some anxiety about how everything will go. In speaking with her today, I noticed there was a sharp increase in her number of complaints, annoyances, and petty irritations. She was upset about one of the images on her blog, she was annoyed at someone on Twitter, and she felt irritated by some discussions on Facebook.

Frustrated in businessGiven that she is not normally like this, I listened for a little bit, and then asked her if she noticed she was feeling more irritated and “out of sorts” lately. She didn’t acknowledge my question directly, but did start explaining exactly WHY she hated the image on her blog, WHY she was so annoyed about THAT tweet, and WHY she HATED that discussion on Facebook.

I suggested to her that she was focusing on inconsequential things at this important time- and I wondered why.

What followed was a deep conversation about her feelings of stress and fear- and that uncomfortable sensation we all get when we are trying to grow into a bigger and brighter version of ourselves. While snakes shed their skin in one fell swoop, us humans do it in bits and pieces, stops and starts. We don’t grow into things evenly, as a rule- sometimes our heads are ahead of our hearts, and sometimes our hearts are ahead of our heads. (That sounds weird, but you know what I mean!)

In any case, I bring this up because any kind of irritation or annoyance is a sign to pay attention. We need to sit up and take notice of what that irritation is showing us. Sometimes, it means someone has crossed our boundaries. Sometimes it means we are trying to force ourselves to do something we don’t want to do. Sometimes it means we have not taken good care of ourselves- we’ve denied our needs for more rest or relaxation. Stated another way, sometimes that irritation is just a sign that we need a nap.

Part of becoming a more seasoned business owner is about recognizing our own capacities and how well filled up we are. When our energy is low and our workloads are high, we are prone to get stuck in unproductive behaviors and to focus on things which are inconsequential- that don’t really matter.

Things like “what font should I use on my blog?” or “what image should I use in my blog post?” – yes, these are worth paying attention to- when you have the energy- but are not worth bothering over when you don’t. Write a blog post in whatever font. Use any image- or none at all- it doesn’t really matter.

The goal is to try to complete the big things and not let the little things derail you along the way. When you notice a rise in your own irritation, stress, or anxiety level, complete what you need to complete and then go and take a nap. This is one of the best ways to create focus for what really matters.