iStock_000019398639XSmallIt happens to most entrepreneurs at some point.  Things start out great.  You dream of having your own business with all of the freedom it promises.  So you go for it and follow your heart’s desire!  Though it’s exhilarating at first, somewhere along the way, that heart’s desire turns into heartburn.  Your to-do list gets out of control.  Hours are absurdly long.   Sleep and exercise are distant memories.  Soon enough you are driven by a list of Have-to’s, Should’s, and Can’ts.  So much for “freedom.”

If this sounds familiar, check out the following 5 tips for getting back in the driver’s seat.

1.  Reclaim An Empowered Mindset.

Remember that YOU are the boss, not your to-do list.  In every moment you have the choice to go with the status quo or make a change.  Seriously, unless you are incarcerated, you are the only one who decides how you use your time and attention.  You are the one who made that to-do list in the first place, right?  Here’s your new mantra: “I am in charge, not my list.”

2.  Be Ruthless about What Or Who Gets Your Time & Attention.

A strange phenomena happens when we’re overwhelmed: Everything on the to-do list suddenly ranks as an A-1 priority [as if filing that stack of papers ranks up there with calling prospective clients].  Under the crush of that impossible list, we tend to burrow into our comfort zones rather than take risks that move us forward.  [Guess which actions get taken, if any at all!]   When you notice this happening, take a time-out.  Sanity check.  Get honest about your action plan.  Limit it to the top 2 or 3 things that will benefit your business.  If you complete those 2 or 3 things in one day, then add 2 or 3 more.  Doing this will bring a laser focus to your action so that you are doing that matters most.

3.  Schedule Time for Both Strategic & Tactical Planning.

Michael Gerber, author of the bestseller The E-Myth, popularized the notion of working ON the business, not just in it.  Be sure to include regular, uninterrupted “think” time.  I have one client who uses every Friday for this purpose.  Another takes her team on a quarterly mini-retreat for a day — always off site!  This precious time is used to reconnect with the big picture so that they don’t get consumed by the details of the day-to-day.

4.  Have a 5-Year VISION first, then a 5-Year Plan.

If you don’t yet have my free KickBut guide, get it here.  In it, I walk you through a process of dreaming and envisioning an exciting, compelling future for your business.  Your vision must be rich with emotional charge for you.  That emotion becomes the fuel that you will use to carry out the actions necessary to make your vision a reality.  Think of it this way: you want your action plan powered by passion.  An emotion-filled vision gives you that.

5.  Engage in Ongoing Dialogue with Trusted Advisors.

You don’t have to do it all, all by yourself.  Surround yourself with people who will give you real support.  That is, encouragement + straight talk + compassion.  You don’t need people who will rain on your parade nor do you need those who will indulge a pipe dream.  Seek out excellent advisors, mentors, and coaches.