What to do when it feels like nothing in your business is working

Feeling like nothing is working in your business is like…..the most stressful thing.

It can massively affect freelancers mental health because it feels like YOU’RE doing something wrong, that you’re failing.

But friend, you’re not. I know it feels hard at these times, but here are some simple tips to help you when it feels like nothing is working.

How feeling like nothing’s working affects our mental health as freelancers and business owners

When we work for ourselves WE are our businesses. We’re offering up ourselves, our ideas, our time, our brain, our deepest hopes and dreams and thoughts.

So when it feels like things aren’t working, by extension it feels like we aren’t doing it right. The finger of blame points solely back at us.

Running a business or being freelance is like a mental health rollercoaster, because we’re ultimately selling ourselves. And when people aren’t buying it’s like they’re saying: I don’t like you.

One of our deepest human desires is to be liked, to be part of the group (it’s more than a desire really, because historically it’s what we’ve needed for survival). So it’s no wonder that when we feel like we’re not getting that from our businesses we feel…..shit.

The first thing you should do when it feels like nothing is working

One word: STOP.

This is gonna feel really counter-intuitive. Because when things aren’t going right, we feel like we need to DO something to sort it out. We try all the things, ask all the questions, chuck all the shiz at the wall to see what sticks.

But doing without knowing gets us into a bit of a frenzy (or a tizzy as my mum would say). 

Let’s imagine we’re running towards….a spa (that’s what I feel I need right now!). And we realise that we’re going in the wrong direction. We need to STOP to figure out what the right direction is, otherwise we’re never gonna make it to that spa, to the gorgeous warm room with the twinkly lights and the gong soundtrack. 

We’ve gotta stop, look at Google maps (let’s be real, we’re not carrying paper maps to the spa, are we?!) and figure out which direction we need to go in next.

Stopping helps us to know.

And when we’re in that place where it feels like nothing’s working, we REALLY need to stop, because we’re essentially running round in circles trying all the things and not seeing the results we want. 

We’re never gonna get to the spa that way.

Why stopping is so important for our mental health as freelancers and business owners

Once you’ve stopped – and I mean really stop – no ‘oh I’m going for a walk, because I’ve stopped, but I’m gonna spend the whole walk obsessing about what I’m doing wrong and how to make it right.’ 


When you’re in a stress loop, you gots to stop to let the stress hormone Cortisol drain away. This is why the stopping is SO important. Otherwise, you’re just continuing the stress cycle. We gotta break the cycle pals.

Once you’ve stopped and that Cortisol is starting to drain away, you’ll notice that you’re starting to sleep better, your concentration is better, you’re ruminating less – that’s all as a result of that Cortisol draining away.

You’ve gotta release the Cortisol so that your brain can recover from the stress cycle and start to think clearly again.

If this is all resonating like a bell and you want to dive a bit deeper into how to look after your mental health as a freelancer,  check out this blog for all my tips.

So after the stopping, after the Cortisol draining, what do you do?

Three questions to ask yourself to move forward

OK, now it’s time to get out a pen and paper, head to a place where you feel calm and safe and get what’s in your head out of it.

Here are three questions to guide your journaling that will without doubt support your mental health as a freelancer or business owner.

Question #1: What do I need right now?

As you’ll know if you’ve worked with me before, I have a way of doing business – The Heartwood Way – that’s all about putting your needs first. 

If you start with what you need, your offers, boundaries and whole business will be set up to give you that.

You can find out more about The Heartwood Way here.

In this moment, what do you need? Maybe it’s to simplify to reduce the overwhelm. Maybe you need more connection in your business so you feel less alone. Perhaps you need some of the excitement back.

What do you need in this season?

Question #2: What would I do if I knew this whole thing would work out?

We often come at things from a place of fear. From a place of worry. From a place of ‘what if.’

But what would you do if you knew it was all going to be OK? If you ask yourself this and take action from this place, you’ll be making decisions from your truth, not from your fear.

Question #3: What do I feel called to share?

What do you feel called to share with your people? Your people are probably in a similar boat to you – because your people are the ones who resonate with you and what you’re going through.

So, what do they need to hear from you right now?

Do they need to hear some of your truth (you don’t ever have to share it all – check out my blog on how to set boundaries for proof of that!)? Do they need to hear the outcome of your thinking? Do they need to hear about how you stopped, to give them permission to do the same?

What do you feel called to share right now?

What I want you to remember when it feels like nothing is working

I know right now things feel hard, feel endless, feel like they just aren’t working. 

But here’s what I want you to remember:

  • IT’S OK TO FEEL THIS WAY – your feelings are valid, however hard they feel right now
  • Things WILL get better, promise
  • PLEASE give yourself permission to stop, to pause, to let that Cortisol drain away
  • Ask yourself questions and listen to yourself – that’s where the answers come from
  • There is help around you and available for you
  • I believe in you, friend

If you could do with more moral support like this, I’m here for you – join my email group and I’ll hop into your inbox (very much) semi-regularly with words of love and encouragement.