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Do You Practice These 7 Tips for Proper, Consulting Firm Distancing?

These days, maintaining physical distance preserves your health and protects those around you.

News Flash: Mental and emotional distance between you and your business bolsters your health, happiness, and the success of your consulting firm.

All entrepreneurs tangle themselves in their businesses. As a consulting firm leader, this issue is magnified. The separation between you and your practice can narrow to nothing because your consulting business is an extension of who you are.

You promote and offer your own thinking, IP, approaches, brainpower, insights and skills. Your firm and you are conjoined, even if you employ a staff or team to tackle your projects.

When a prospect rebuffs your consulting firm’s proposal, it can feel like your contact is spurning you and passing judgment on you, personally. And that hurts.

Wait a second, though. Consulting is a personal business, and that’s one of the wonderful attributes of our profession. So, is linking yourself hip-to-hip with your consulting firm really so bad?

Yes.

Binding yourself too tightly to your consulting firm’s performance can create a vicious cycle.

Rejections shatter your confidence, reducing your ability to win future engagements. Downturns sap the joy from your days, robbing your creativity and productivity, and rendering you less attractive to clients.

The flip side–wins and successes—is equally perilous when you wear your consulting business like a second skin. Business highs can become addictive, and chasing victories can shrink your world to a narrow point.

You need healthy separation from your consulting firm. Proper distancing allows you to:

  • Maintain your energy, enthusiasm and excitement, even in the face of failures and rejection.
  • Gain the perspective required to make smart decisions for yourself and your consulting firm.
  • Lead your consulting firm’s staff with the consistency they deserve.
  • Grow as a person outside your firm. In many cases, enriching your life will also help your firm thrive; however, either way it’s good for you.
  • Improve your relationships with family and friends.

I quickly jotted down a dozen practices to help consulting firm leaders appropriately detach from their business. Half of them are below, plus there’s an empty space for your ideas.

7 Tips for Proper, Consulting Firm Distancing

Clear Your Head

At least once a day, engage in an activity that dampens the incessant, business buzzing in your brain. Practice yoga, meditate, run, scarf down chocolate, or partake in something else that quiets your mind.

Create Forced Time Off

Block out significant time on your calendar when you will completely remove yourself from your consulting firm.

My clients know our office closes Friday afternoon and access to me and my team is not possible through Saturday—no exceptions! Over the past few years, I’ve taken month-long, no-work vacations.

Both practices have been an incredible boon to me and helped my business grow rapidly. (Alas, C-19 nixed the plans for this year’s trip.)

Set Boundaries

When your workplace and your home collide, as they have for many consulting firm leaders recently, you may feel like you never leave the office.

Establish clear, physical boundaries that limit where you conduct your work. For instance, you could let your family know that no work or work discussions are allowed in your bedroom or kitchen.

Highlight Personal Blessings

Every day write down three non-work-related aspects of your life for which you’re grateful.

Push yourself to list at least three new blessings each day of the week. (This tip loses its potency if every day you write down, “My husband, my kids, Hu Chocolate Gems.”)

Cultivate Outside Relationships

Associate with friends that have no relation to your work. And, while this may sound nuts, spend an entire evening with your friends without mentioning your work once.

Pick Up Hobbies

Find an activity outside your consulting firm that completely absorbs you.

Obsess over some non-work interests. Sing, dance, play hockey, woodwork, Gloomhaven, write your truffles cookbook–those are all good options.

What Else?

What’s your practice or tip for creating a healthy distance between you and your consulting firm?

Please share, so that other consulting firm leaders can learn from your good example.


16 Comments
  1. Kerry Nesbit
    June 24, 2020 at 6:11 am Reply

    In several decades of working from home, I have found adhering to office hours is helpful in establishing boundaries.

    • David A. Fields
      June 24, 2020 at 9:36 am Reply

      Terrific example, Kerry. A strict time schedule for your work gives you the freedom to work hard when you’re at work and to refresh, recharge and enjoy your time off when you’re not there.

      Thank you for sharing your successful habit, Kerry.

  2. Don McDermott
    June 24, 2020 at 8:03 am Reply

    David,
    This hit at the right time. I’ve become more than mentally exhausted with “uncertainty”. So, just started doing things around the house which I put off for a long time. My theme “One thing at a time not the entire project, e.g., replace the walkway wound the side of the hose” or “clean the mold off the back of the house” . Just an hour per day, at the end of the day before supper to get my mind on something else other than prospecting, clients, etc. This has given me some new energy plus satisfaction of finally crossing those things off the list. Thanks David for the healthy reminder there is more to life than worrying about work.
    Don McDermott

    • David A. Fields
      June 24, 2020 at 9:43 am Reply

      Well said, Don. You’re not alone in being exhausted by uncertainty and unwelcome changes. Setting small goals including, as you model, non-work goals, can make each work day feel less daunting and burdensome.

      More importantly, when you’re done with those errands you mentioned, I have a whole list of house-improvement projects up here in Connecticut you can tackle to keep your mind off work.

      I appreciate you sharing your situation, Don. There’s plenty to learn from your examples.

  3. John Ennis
    June 24, 2020 at 9:15 am Reply

    I have started to schedule a daily nap, which is on my calendar as an event with myself to be respected and scheduled around.

    • David A. Fields
      June 24, 2020 at 9:49 am Reply

      What a terrific intersection of self-care and firm leadership! Since you’re the boss, you can institute unconventional practices such as mid-day snooze-breaks. (I’m assuming your nap is mid-day.)

      Even more impressive is how you’ve formalized your break from work. I’m sure plenty of other readers will emulate your excellent, distance-creating approach (once they wake up).

  4. Eliyahu Lotzar
    June 24, 2020 at 10:33 am Reply

    Thank you for the reminder! On (rare) occasion I postpone or don’t attend a meeting without having the excuse of having a 104 degree fever or being double booked, just so I can have sudden unscheduled time. I feel once again like the business is not life, just one part of it.

    • David A. Fields
      June 24, 2020 at 11:31 am Reply

      Making yourself the #1 priority on occasion helps you make your clients the #1 priority the rest of the time. I’m sure you don’t spontaneously miss client meetings, of course.

      Good for you for looking out for yourself, Eliyahu, and thank you for sharing your experience.

      • Eliyahu Lotzar
        June 25, 2020 at 3:16 pm Reply

        Oh my gosh, no I would never just not show up to a client meeting. Responsibility and wisdom are the context to the choice.

        • David A. Fields
          June 25, 2020 at 6:21 pm

          Whew! Just checking, Elihayu. We wouldn’t want other readers to get the wrong idea!

  5. Debbie
    June 24, 2020 at 11:39 am Reply

    I purchased a month at a glance calendar. I make a point to review the day and write down 1 personal and 1 professional win on each day. It can be a big win or even a small one.

    • David A. Fields
      June 24, 2020 at 12:25 pm Reply

      That’s a great habit, Debbie. Start-the-day rituals, in general, tend to be very helpful for most people.

      I’m glad you decided to post your example of creating distance, Debbie–many other readers will be inspired by your routine.

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