Keeping your head in the game

Entrepreneur EXP


I have to share this with you. It’s because you may be going through something similar to what I have powered through. It may be that you need to know that you are not going through anything unique to you. This is to let you know that you are not alone, because when your head is out of the game it can be a very lonely place, and that there is a way through it if only someone would share that with you.

This is the story. I just recently pulled myself from a scenario where my head was not only out of the game, but also in the bottom of a pit. The whole thing was rather strange because I was still driven by my vision and the passion for what I do. But, somehow I found myself struggling to focus effectively, and I was becoming frustrated, agitated and despondent at the same time.

The biggest challenge for me is that this is not my character. I am super optimistic, highly energised, predominantly inspired and motivated. So, what the heck was this all about? Fortunately I have my own diagnostic model (the EXP Self-Leadership model – which you can find out more about at and began mapping out the process. This mapping helps facilitate introspection – an important exercise that most people struggle to get to do.

I soon discovered that my expectations were falling short of the mark I had set. The result was that I had feelings of being overwhelmed and was becoming emotionally scratchy. My expectations of myself, and of what others should be delivering was overly optimistic. It had therefore stretched me to an unrealistic level. It was unrealistic because it overly optimistic to begin with and therefore could not be sustained. Now I found myself paying the price for unrealistic expectations.

It is easy to become overwhelmed, overloaded and then find yourself in a bad headspace. This is a danger zone because you can quickly find yourself in a space where your head is no longer in the game. You may be going through the motions, walking the walk, talking the talk, and giving the appearance that all is okay. But it is not, and now there is evidence that it is not.

This is not all a bad thing. It is a signal that something is not all okay and that it needs fixing. Do not ignore these signals or see them as bad. Use them to your advantage. The alternative is that you reach a point of no return, or catastrophic breakdown, because you intentionally ignored the signs.

Any new venture, whether it is entrepreneurial, something  you are pursuing personally, or within an organisation, is a massive challenge. It is filled with roadblocks, obstacles, constraints, challenges and expectations that will let you down. The difference between failing and succeeding, or taking a beating of rising up, depends on whether you are prepared to face this head on and power through it.



1 – Stop beating on yourself and cut yourself some slack.

Just stop. Disengage your mind from trying to find the solution. Step away from it for a short while. Take a walk to change your environment and get your mind out of the rut you are trying to get out of. Beating on yourself is one of the worst things you can do. At times like this you need cheerleading, not a self-flogging. Now that you have taken a step out of the battle zone, you need to take a hard, honest look at the whole scenario to find the thorn that is causing the damage.

2 – Evaluate (or test) your expectations

Everything you do, and the results you seek, revolves around expectations.

Expectations are the things you want, and that you hope for. They are what drives you forward and energises you to do so. So, when these expectations fail to materialise or play out as you want them to, they will produce the opposite and have a less than positive impact on you.

You can easily find yourself in that space of feeling disillusioned, frustrated or overwhelmed. There is something else at play here too. This whole lot also a direct impact on your energy states where the very energy you need is drained away by these feelings. Unfortunately, there is a vicious circle that this creates where each of these factors (energy state and emotions) feed each other in an ever-increasing cycle.

Your first step is to determine what is at the heart of this all, and it begins with asking the brutal question “Is my expectation realistic?”

To test this you move to question number 2 “Is my perception or perspective of the situation valid or flawed?”

Another good question will be “Am I doing what I should be doing to make this expectation happen, or am I idly sitting back and hoping it all comes together by itself?”

There is so much more that you can cover to explore the validity of your expectation, but this is a good starting point for now.

When you find what is at the core of this all, then action is the next step.

3 – Adjust your expectations

When you have tested your expectations, you are going to have to face the situation head on and adjust something. This something is the “one thing” that can set a ripple effect in motion and create the ultimate change you are seeking.

In my case, the expectation was overly optimistic (and perhaps based on inadequate information as to how long things should have taken). I therefore had to adjust (or shift) my perception of timeframes for myself, and those I placed on others. This adjustment automatically shifted my expectations to the “realistic” side of the spectrum.

I quickly want to tell you that this evaluation exercise has an automatic side-benefit. It changes your emotional state into a more neutral state. Without any effort, you have shifted another crucial dimension in the mix. You are now two shifts up, instead of one.

4 – Do it. Put the required changes into action and persist

Kill the sacred cow. Most people, even if they get to evaluate their expectations and find the problem area, are too attached to their comfort zones or the perceived value they have put on their efforts to this point. For this reason, they have created a sacred cow that they believe must be protected at all costs.

Don’t do that. If you want a different result, something is going to have to change. Something is going to have to pay the price. This is especially pertinent to your sacred cows. Just a reminder, you are already paying a price that is not good for you, so what is it going to be?


Keeping your head in the game of your personal life or business is crucial. If you get out of the game for too long, the journey becomes more difficult and eventually impossible.

These moments will happen. Every successful person has these moments. It is all in how you manage it. Do you get up a power through it, or lie down and give in. One keeps you in the game, while the other removes you from it. Having read this far means you want to stay in the game. I’m with you.

Stay inspired, stay motivated and keep your expectations real.

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About the Author : Steve Vanstraaten

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