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Posted: April 27, 2012

Please don’t squeeze the bunny

It's only going to make things worse

Teri Karjala

The poor little furry creature is looking up at you with his big button eyes. As you talk, you squeeze him tighter and tighter, all your frustrations and stress pouring out through your hands. The bunny represents all your hard work and energy, all your dreams and ambition. But today, the bunny is all the struggles and stress, the dream that isn’t quite materializing, the thought that you could fail.

In my Mastermind Group, when we meet every other week, we always say, "Don’t squeeze the bunny."

The bunny represents your business. While you love it and nourish your hopes and dreams, are you working so hard that you are squeezing the life out of your business? You are putting more and more hours, running on fear that you can’t keep the bunny alive. You are in a mental state that bogs up your creative juices, making it impossible to "see the forest for the trees" or "think outside the box" for a solution.

The harder you squeeze the bunny, the cloudier your thinking becomes. One colleague became so obsessed with her bunny that she envisioned driving over it, backing up and driving over it again, opening the door to see if it is still there and driving back over, again and again.

It becomes a viscous cycle of seeing your dream and wanting it so badly that we fear that it will never materialize. It reminds me of Elmyra Duff on the Tiny Toons. She was this adorable little character that loved her animals. She would say "I’m gonna hug and kiss you and never use you up." The fact is, she was choking them to death.

If you realize you are squeezing the bunny too hard, leave work, take a break, go on a vacation, stop and enjoy life. This is probably when you are least likely to do this, but it’s the most important time to do it. Walk away from your office or practice for a while. Give your business time to relax and you time to calm down. This is especially important for workaholics; your poor bunny could be dying a slow death and you don’t even know it.

Build a support mastermind team that can walk you through this process and keep you on task. Have them on speed dial. It’s not unlike an addict’s relationship with a sponsor, we all need someone who is outside our business, who is objective and can remind us when we are coming close to the point of squeezing the life out of our bunny.

Go do something silly and fun. Take an hour, shoot hoops, have an ice cream, go to a mindless movie, or take the afternoon off to go skiing.

Practice the art of letting go. There will always be something more to do, more calls to make, but working 80 hours in our business and still feeling further behind is no way to live. So for a moment (maybe right now as you are reading this) breathe. Let go of the checklists, don’t look at the to-do notes, the mission-impossible tasks and breathe. It will be there tomorrow.

Then when you come back to your office know you can only get so much done in a day, a week, a month and a year. Take a deep sigh of relief and remember why you opened your business in the first place. Then gently and carefully begin to Prioritize. Prioritize. Prioritize. If you have your goals written out you will be able to prioritize those goals in a more efficient and self-fulfilling manner.

Remember this is your bunny: You love it for who it is, what it is and how it is helping you reach your goals and dreams. Don’t start thinking someone else is doing this better and reaching their goals faster. This is yours and yours alone; it’s not going to look like anyone else’s bunny. The more you relax the more you’ll enjoy your sweet little furry stuffed animal with its all-knowing eyes.

Teri Karjala is owner of the Creative Counseling Center, LLC, as well as Talking With Teri, LLC. Teri’s passion for the business aspects of owning and maintaining a business has made her a sought out coach by others in the helping fields. She is a regular columnist for ColoradoBiz Magazine and speaks to therapists across the nation in building their thriving practice. Recently she has released her “How to Live Deliciously” Creative Journal Series to help inspire and empower adults, teens, and children. These are available in print at www.talkingwithteri.com.

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