This was originally written for AllBusiness.
In yoga, there’s a concept called drishti. It refers to softly gazing at a fixed point in front of you, and it helps you go inward and focus on what you’re doing.
The other day, as I stood wavering in tree pose, I thought about drishti as it relates to business.
As an intuitive business coach, I encounter a lot of women who are running several businesses, usually on top of busy personal schedules. They lose steam, but aren’t sure what to give up. To them I say: find your drishti.
Busyness is Not the Same as Productivity
Our American culture has encouraged the idea that the more you do, the more productive and successful you are. In fact, taking on too much can lead to burnout, stress, and overwhelm. But most people become entrepreneurs because they want to do something that brings them joy, not stress.
So how do these folks get from launching a business that brings them joy to juggling multiple businesses and priorities, constantly in fear of one falling into the fire?
Most people are passionate about many things. The tech consultant is passionate about helping empower young girls to get into STEM, so she launches a philanthropic nonprofit . . . on top of her tech business and beauty brand. The writer loves art, so she starts a side business offering creativity classes. While it’s fine and well to have multiple passions, the problems start when you lose your focus by trying to spread it too thin.
Drishti and Your Business
Let’s get back on the mat, shall we? If you’ve taken even one yoga class, you know that your mind can tend to wander. While you’re in Downward Dog, you might be busy comparing yourself to that young thing across the room who just seems so darn flexible. You might look out over your hand in Warrior II and see an ice cream truck out the window, which makes your stomach growl.
The point is that yoga—and the world—is full of distractions, if you allow them in. But they don’t enrich your practice. Neither do distractions in your business.
When you soften your focus on the mat, you tune out everyone and everything around you. None of it matters. This does two things, both of which are useful to you as a business owner.
1. You Go Inward
When you’re distracted by the outside world on your mat, you’re not listening to your inner self. You question whether you’re doing a pose right, whether there’s somewhere else you should be. But when you tune out all that external racket, you’re left with your intuition. It’s from this place that you can trust yourself, on the mat and in business.
So what does going inward do for you as an entrepreneur? It lets you slow down and really take inventory of where you are. Are you happy with what you’re doing? What does your gut tell you about what’s next for you?
2. You Focus Your Energy
Just like a shotgun sends scattershot everywhere, so too does your energy dissipate in different directions when you’re doing too much. I’m not saying you shouldn’t have more than one business, but if you’re not able to focus on any one with real attention and intention, are you really doing all of them justice?
By focusing your drishti on one thing at a time, you’re honoring that thing, that business, that task, with your attention. And you’re doing it better.
Think about it. If you run two businesses and you’re drafting an important email to a client for one, but thinking about your task list for the other, you might easily make a mistake in that email or come off as uncaring to your client. If you’re busy putting out fires in one business, you can’t strategize for growth in the other.
Studies show that context switching—that is, switching from one work task to another, like checking email and then writing an article and taking a phone call—can kill productivity by 40 to 80%. And that’s often just mindless work tasks. Imagine what context switching between businesses does for your creativity. You can’t mentally be fully present and planning for the future if you’re constantly shaking off the dust as you move from business to business.
Juggling Two Businesses and Finding Your Drishti
As I said, I’m not advocating that everyone run just one business. But I’ve seen from my own efforts to juggle more than one business that often one suffers.
Make a list of the businesses and priorities in your life and identify which are most important to you. Be honest. Maybe that little side business you enthusiastically started years ago no longer brings you joy (but does take a lot of energy). Maybe you’re not making the kinds of profits you really want and you need with another endeavor.
If money were no object, which of these would you keep doing? That’s the one that matters most.
From there, consider how you could transition away from the businesses and activities that are draining you. This could look like hiring or promoting someone to take on more of your responsibilities (bonus: you still make money from the business without being so actively involved). It might look like selling the business or even shutting it down.
There’s no failure in letting go of something that is no longer serving you, and doing so will allow you to put your drishti, your focus, on what matters most.