One thing running a small business teaches you is that there are no such things as a secret formula or “top 5 things to do” that solve everything for everyone in the same way. Each situation is unique, every opportunity a little different, and all challenges require a separate skill.

Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project and an expert on how people develop or break habits, puts it this way:

“We’re told constantly that there is a right way to do everything. The truth is you need to know what fits you the best. Trying to force yourself to do something one way—the way you assume is the right way—may not line up with your personal preferences, personality quirks, and lifestyle. Other people might get up earlier and get extra work done, but for you, it might be better to stay up later and do extra work then.

Here is Gretchen’s advice when you find yourself trying to do something in a better way, but it’s just not working: “Flip it around.” As she explains, “People assume that one way is the ‘right’ way, even if they aren’t getting good results. Instead, it’s helpful to think — well, what I’m doing isn’t working, so I’ll turn it around.”

Here are some ways you might apply that in running a business:

  • If something you’d like to do each morning (say, creating a “to-do” list) isn’t working, try doing it at the end of the day.
  • If sending an email to someone isn’t working, try calling.
  • If you can’t summon the discipline to go to the gym, find a physical activity that doesn’t make you think about the word “discipline” — say, riding a bike.

What are some things you’ve found that just didn’t work until you tried flipping them? Share them in the comments below.



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