Working without Attachment to the Outcome

Our culture is imbued with the idea that if we work harder, or work smarter, or work more, our results will grow. If a student studies more, they'll do better on the test. If a person gains more education, they'll earn more income. If an entrepreneur works harder, their business will do better. 

In my experience as an entrepreneur, but also in life, this is not always true. In fact, at best I would describe a graph of work to desired outcome as logarithmic in appearance: where, beyond a certain point, each unit of more work puts you minutely closer to an improved outcome. In many cases I think it would look more like a bell curve, where if we work too hard, it saps our energy and we become less effective. Some times it feels like effort and outcome are completely unrelated, which can make all effort feel futile. 

 Examples of a Logarithmic Curve and a Bell Curve. Imagine work increases to the right and the vertical access is a quantification of outcomes.

Examples of a Logarithmic Curve and a Bell Curve. Imagine work increases to the right and the vertical access is a quantification of outcomes.

For those of you familiar with the Bhagavad Gita, you may know it's lesson to not be attached to the outcome of your effort. When I was first introduced to this concept, I resisted it vehemently. It seemed to me that there's no reason to do anything unless you're doing it to obtain the desired result. As I've experienced more life, I've realized that there are many instances where the outcome is not guaranteed and it's helpful to have a strategy for staying motivated that does not increase the suffering inherent in life. Non-attachment is a strategy that works well for many. 

There's so much in business that is beyond anyone's control. No matter how well thought out your business plan, or how growth-oriented your industry is, nothing is a sure bet. For the solo-entrepreneur it can be even more confounding, because all aspects of the business are under your control and yet none of the outcomes are. No matter how robust your marketing strategy, it doesn't guarantee clients walking through the door. There's a huge element of business that can only be described as a leap of faith. 

So what if you had permission to not worry about the outcome? What if you approach your business the way the Bhagavad Gita suggests you approach life? Do your work, and do it the best that you can, and then acknowledge that the results are out of your hands. How do you feel about this idea? Terrified? Uninspired? Relieved? Offended? 

It has been my practice with my business to choose a project, work on it, and then move on to the next; checking back periodically to see what seems to be enriching my life and/or bringing clients through the door. This is, unarguably, a practice. Some days this idea that I don't control the outcome is a comfort, and other days it seems as impossible as walking on water. Some days the fear of my business "failing" is great enough that being detached from the outcome is unempowering and demotivating. And yet even on those days the truth of the matter is that I don't have control over the outcome. What I do have control over is faith that things will work out and confidence that I am capable of dealing with the after-math if they don't work out. It feels like an epically long trust-fall (and I hate trust falls) but on the up-side, it just keeps going, ebbing and flowing the way life does and that feels more like a roller coaster (and I love roller coasters!)

So for those of you on the edge of the ride, wondering if you should jump on -and those of you already on the ride, wondering when the ride smooths out again- keep in mind that there is an emergency break: you can always go get another job (the merry-go-round, if you will.) A job is safe and consistent, and those things are good. Self-employment is, essentially, no less safe, however it is quite the adventure! 

Want help getting started on your adventure? That's what I'm here for! <3