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Entrepreneurial Stress: 10 Scenarios and Their Solutions

Entrepreneurial Stress: 10 Scenarios and Their Solutions

“You know you’re doing what you love when Sunday nights feel the same as Friday nights.” (The Big Idea by Donny Deutsch)

Entrepreneurship is not easy, and it is not for everyone. The reason lies in the exact quote: putting Sundays in the same phrase as Fridays. Just as this award-winning article on Inc. states, there is a psychological cost involved when having your own business. The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index shows that 34% of entrepreneurs reported high anxiety levels. That’s 4% more than employees. And 45% of entrepreneurs said they experience stress very often. That’s another 3% more than other workers. So things got real. And it’s okay; there are ways to deal with them.

Check out these 10 entrepreneurial stress scenarios and solutions.

Identifying The Triggers and Solutions

The first thing to keep in mind is to identify early-stage triggers. Here are things that can cause you pain and uneasiness, and this is how to deal with them:

1. Impossibility to differentiate between private and business life

The problem: Sometimes, having a home-based business can be too big of a burden. While you don’t have to pay for an office downtown, and save time with commuting, it can turn against you if you don’t stick to a routine or schedule. Don’t get buried in work at home just because you can do it all day, all night.

Solutions: Ideally, get an office close to your home. Walk there or bike instead of taking your personal car, Uber, or public transportation. This will help you separate your office life from your private one. If you don’t want to give up your home-based office, then create a schedule and stick to it. This means, taking a day off at least once a week. This habit will have great benefits for the brain and productivity – backed by research.

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2. Not having a private life at all

The problem: We tend to withdraw from social life under the premise of attributing the right focus to our businesses. While being focused is a great business practice, it can backfire if done in an exhaustive manner. We all need moments with friends, family and loved ones; they help us go through rough times and see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Solutions: Social aspects are imperative to a healthy lifestyle and can help relief stress. More vacations and parties with family and friends. This is a good way to resuscitate your social circles. Reconnect with college or high school former colleagues. Go to networking events in your city and in other cities. If you’re single, don’t be afraid to date and ask people out – the worst thing that can happen is you get to discover another human being, which is not so bad!

3. Failure and self-doubt

The problem: In your entrepreneurial journey, expect to fail and fail again. But do not fear the word “failure.” Failure is the source of your lessons and knowledge. Don’t let your doubts get in the way. It’s not a matter of “not being good enough,” but rather of growth and learning.

Solutions: Self-doubt is something you have to work on yourself. The best way to do it is through self-rediscovery, which can be difficult to achieve when in physical proximity to your business HQs. Join a yoga or meditation camp outside the city. Go backpacking or hitchhiking. Mountains or the seaside in an off-season can provide a huge reset button and help your mind relax. Enthusiastic travelers can enjoy this summer end’s 20% off sale from EagleCreek. The main idea? Whatever you decide to do, and wherever you choose to go, book two weeks off. Period.

4. Bad routines

The problem:: Having a routine can be a double-edged knife. While it can settle things and help you become more organized, sometimes routines can mess up growth opportunities. To give you an example: a bad routine would be driving your car to your office every day. Or checking your email every 30 minutes. Or getting just 4 hours of sleep per night.

Solution: Decrease the number of bad routines and replace them with good ones. An example of a good routine: hydrotherapy every evening, for 30 minutes. This involves creating a relaxation corner in your bathroom (see suggestion below by ACS designer bathrooms) and spending quality quiet time, accompanied by instrumental music, candles, and aromatherapy oils. Allow access to plenty of light and if possible, have it accompanied by a nice window view to a garden or park. Repeat daily.

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relaxation hub

    Image source: acs bathrooms

    Other examples include 10 minutes of meditation per day. 30 minutes of daily exercise. Eat three meals per day, your dinner no later than 7pm. Get a minimum of 7 hours of sleep per night, and go to sleep at approximately the same hour every night.

    5. Falling out of love with your passion(s)

    The problem: Everyone can fall out of love with their passions. Being “married” to your business doesn’t necessarily mean there won’t be any downs along the way.

    Solution: When that happens, instead of stressing out, calm down and think of how you can improve your experience. Sometimes, you don’t have to let go of the passion; you just have to rediscover it, or add a complementary one to the bigger picture. Volunteering also helps in the passion rediscovery process, as it is an action not driven by financial means, but by inner motivation.

    6. Letting go

    The problem: Sometimes you don’t have to let it go. Other times, you do. When you are forced to let go, there is this battle inside between the person who wants to keep things as they are and the leader who wants to break from the chains. This also applies when you have to fire great people (see what Moz had to say about letting go of 28% of their staff) or give up good clients.

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    Solution: Surround yourself with people who understand that this is the best decision, whether it concerns you or your employees/clients. In dealing with loss of any nature, the cycle of recovery is to: 1) Let go., 2) Accept, 3) Forgive (yourself), 4) Move onDon’t let your world end after the first. Carry on, be open to new challenges!

    7. Losing synchronization with your clients/associates

    The problem: When your business is more than just a product/service/both, the main direction is creating long-term collaborations with your customers and community. Sometimes, however, things don’t go as planned. Even a business relationship that has history can fall apart.

    Solution: If you’re falling out of sync with a client or an associate, discuss and be transparent about your feelings. A business relationship that stopped working can become a huge stress factor. Solving it usually comes from both parties. It won’t work if only one side makes the effort.

    8. Losing interest in a project

    The problem: It’s not just the clients you can fall out of sync with. Or the business partners. Or the team. It’s also the projects. Some ideas just don’t motivate the entrepreneur in you or are not aligned with your core focus. If you’ve lost interest for a topic, don’t let it become an element of displeasure in your life.

    Solution: First, inform the other party about your feelings toward the project. Then, transform the process, from management changes, to tools, communication channels, an upgrade on expectations, mission and vision. Try new approaches. If nothing can trigger a solution, walk away, but not before recommending someone else for the task.

    Remember to always leave room for friendship. This project may be a goner, but the future is bright.

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    9. Public “judgment day”

    The problem: The way people see and talk about you can become quite stressful. As entrepreneurs and leaders, we are often viewed as examples for the communities we are part of. Not only that, but it can feel like failure is not an option. Somehow, because you are in control of your business, people will not allow you to screw up. And when you do, people start talking, analyzing, and mentioning you in their “mistakes to avoid” round-ups on websites and social media. How can you deal with that?

    Solution: Don’t fear what people have to say about your successes and failures. People will talk. And there’s nothing you can do to change their mind. Like Socrates once said, “Strong minds discuss ideas, weak minds discuss people.” I would add: Strong people are not afraid to show their vulnerabilities in public. And, to ease out the stress, just have a good laugh about it. It helps!

    10. Financial stress

    The problem: Sometimes, not getting it right can have a huge impact on your finances, especially when you bet everything on one business idea. As this entrepreneur says, “Debt doesn’t make you a good entrepreneur, and you need to get out of it asap.” But that shouldn’t stop you from trying. Sometimes, debt can be a huge motivator, though not an ideal one, in getting things done.

    Solution: Start by clearly evaluating what you can do to minimize costs. Whether it’s cutting staff numbers or giving up on fat salary flyers for yourself, buying cheaper technology or repurposed equipment, you do what you have to do to get out of financial struggles. 1% reduction of debt means earning an extra percent for a clear mind. While not advisable to go fully optimistic and ignore your problems, it doesn’t hurt having a bit of hope that things are going the right way. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Nowadays, there are crowdfunding alternatives, Kiva being one of them for micro-entrepreneurs.

    So Where Does This Leave Us?

    Entrepreneurial stress is a reality, whether we like it or not. And, as with any reality, the best possible way to deal with it is to accept it and find solutions that can improve it. There are many stories out there about entrepreneurs who had it extremely rough in the beginning. That doesn’t mean yours should be just as tough too.

    But hey, if that happens, you’ll just come out stronger.

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    Last Updated on August 20, 2019

    How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

    How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

    Your mind is the most powerful tool you have for the creation of good in your life, but if not used correctly, can also be the most destructive force in your life.

    Your mind, more specifically, your thoughts, affect your perception and therefore, your interpretation of reality. (And here’s Why Your Perception Is Your Reality.)

    I have heard that the average person thinks around 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot, especially if they are unproductive, self-abusive and just a general waste of energy.

    You can let your thoughts run amok, but why would you? It is your mind, your thoughts; isn’t it time to take your power back? Isn’t it time to take control?

    Choose to be the person who is actively, consciously thinking your thoughts. Become the master of your mind.

    When you change your thoughts, you will change your feelings as well, and you will also eliminate the triggers that set off those feelings. Both of these outcomes provide you with a greater level of peace in your mind.

    I currently have few thoughts that are not of my own choosing or a response from my reprogramming. I am the master of my mind, so now my mind is quite peaceful. Yours can be too!

    Who Is Thinking My Thoughts?

    Before you can become the master of your mind, you must recognize that you are currently at the mercy of several unwanted “squatters” living in your mind, and they are in charge of your thoughts. If you want to be the boss of them, you must know who they are and what their motivation is, and then you can take charge and evict them.

    Here are four of the “squatters” in your head that create the most unhealthy and unproductive thoughts:

    1. The Inner Critic

    This is your constant abuser who is often a conglomeration of:

    • Other people’s words; many times your parents.
    • Thoughts you have created based on your own or other peoples expectations.
    • Comparing yourself to other people, including those in the media.
    • The things you told yourself as a result of painful experiences such as betrayal and rejection. Your interpretation creates your self-doubt and self-blame, which are most likely undeserved in cases of rejection and betrayal.

    The Inner Critic is motivated by pain, low self-esteem, lack of self-acceptance and lack of self-love.

    Why else would this person abuse you? And since this person is actually you– why else would you abuse yourself? Why would you let anyone treat you this badly?

    2. The Worrier

    This person lives in the future; in the world of “what ifs.”

    The Worrier is motivated by fear which is often irrational and with no basis for it. Occasionally, this person is motivated by fear that what happened in the past will happen again.

    3. The Reactor or Trouble-Maker

    This is the one that triggers anger, frustration and pain. These triggers stem from unhealed wounds of the past. Any experience that is even closely related to a past wound will set him off.

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    This person can be set off by words or feelings, and can even be set off by sounds and smells.

    The Reactor has no real motivation and has poor impulse control and is run by past programming that no longer serves you, if it ever did.

    4. The Sleep Depriver

    This can be a combination of any number of different squatters including the inner planner, the rehasher, and the ruminator, along with the inner critic and the worrier.

    The Sleep Depriver’s motivation can be:

    • As a reaction to silence, which he fights against
    • Taking care of the business you neglected during the day
    • Self-doubt, low self-esteem, insecurity and generalized anxiety
    • As listed above for the inner critic and worrier

    How can you control these squatters?

    How to Master Your Mind

    You are the thinker and the observer of your thoughts. You must pay attention to your thoughts so you can identify “who” is running the show; this will determine which technique you will want to use.

    Begin each day with the intention of paying attention to your thoughts and catching yourself when you are thinking undesirable thoughts.

    There are two ways to control your thoughts:

    • Technique A – Interrupt and replace them
    • Technique B – Eliminate them altogether

    This second option is what is known as peace of mind!

    The technique of interrupting and replacing is a means of reprogramming your subconscious mind. Eventually, the replacement thoughts will become the “go to” thoughts in the applicable situations.

    Use Technique A with the Inner Critic and Worrier; and Technique B with the Reactor and Sleep Depriver.

    For the Inner Critic

    When you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself (calling yourself names, disrespecting yourself, or berating yourself), interrupt it.

    You can yell (in your mind), “Stop! No!” or, “Enough! I’m in control now.” Then, whatever your negative thought was about yourself, replace it with an opposite or counter thought or an affirmation that begins with “I am.”

    For example, if your thought is, “I’m such a loser,” you can replace it with, “I am a Divine Creation of the Universal Spirit. I am a perfect spiritual being learning to master the human experience. I am a being of energy, light, and matter. I am magnificent, brilliant, and beautiful. I love and approve of myself just as I am.”

    You can also have a dialogue with yourself with the intention of discrediting the ‘voice’ that created the thought, if you know whose voice it is:

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    “Just because so-and-so said I was a loser doesn’t make it true. It was his or her opinion, not a statement of fact. Or maybe they were joking and I took it seriously because I’m insecure.”

    If you recognize that you have recurring self-critical thoughts, you can write out or pre-plan your counter thoughts or affirmation so you can be ready. This is the first squatter you should evict, forcefully, if necessary:

    • They rile up the Worrier.
    • The names you call yourself become triggers when called those names by others, so he also maintains the presence of the Reactor.
    • They are often present when you try to fall asleep so he perpetuates the Sleep Depriver.
    • They are a bully and is verbally and emotionally abusive.
    • They are the destroyer of self-esteem. They convince you that you’re not worthy. They’re a liar! In the interest of your self-worth, get them out!

    Eliminate your worst critic and you will also diminish the presence of the other three squatters.

    Replace them with your new best friends who support, encourage, and enhance your life. This is a presence you want in your mind.

    For the Worrier

    Prolonged anxiety is mentally, emotionally and physically unhealthy. It can have long-term health implications.

    Fear initiates the fight or flight response, creates worry in the mind and creates anxiety in the body.

    You should be able to recognize a “worry thought” immediately by how you feel. The physiological signs that the fight or flight response of fear has kicked in are:

    • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, or surge of adrenaline
    • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
    • Muscles tense

    Use the above stated method to interrupt any thought of worry and then replace it. But this time you will replace your thoughts of worry with thoughts of gratitude for the outcome you wish for.

    If you believe in a higher power, this is the time to engage with it. Here is an example:

    Instead of worrying about my loved ones traveling in bad weather, I say the following (I call it a prayer):

    “Thank you great spirit for watching over _______. Thank you for watching over his/her car and keeping it safe, road-worthy, and free of maintenance issues without warning. Thank you for surrounding him/her with only safe, conscientious, and alert drivers. And thank you for keeping him/her safe, conscientious, and alert.”

    Smile when you think about it or say it aloud, and phrase it in the present tense; both of these will help you feel it and possibly even start to believe it.

    If you can visualize what you are praying for, the visualization will enhance the feeling so you will increase the impact in your vibrational field.

    Now take a calming breath, slowly in through your nose, and slowly out through the mouth. Take as many as you like!

    Replacing fearful thoughts with gratitude will decrease reactionary behavior, taking the steam out of the Reactor.

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    For example:

    If your child gets lost in the mall, the typical parental reaction that follows the fearful thoughts when finding them is to yell at them.

    “I told you never to leave my sight.” This reaction just adds to the child’s fear level from being lost in the first place. Plus, it also teaches them that mom and/or dad will get mad when he or she makes a mistake, which may make them lie to you or not tell you things in the future.

    Change those fearful thoughts when they happen:

    “Thank You (your choice of Higher Power) for watching over my child and keeping him safe. Thank you for helping me find him soon.”

    Then, when you see your child after this thought process, your only reaction will be gratitude, and that seems like a better alternative for all people involved.

    For the Trouble-Maker, Reactor or Over-Reactor

    Permanently eliminating this squatter will take a bit more attention and reflection after the fact to identify and heal the causes of the triggers; but until then, you can prevent the Reactor from getting out of control by initiating conscious breathing as soon as you recognize his presence.

    The Reactor’s thoughts or feelings activate the fight or flight response just like with the Worrier. The physiological signs of his presence will be the same. With a little attention, you should be able to tell the difference between anxiety, anger, frustration, or pain:

    • Increased heart rate and blood pressure; surge of adrenaline
    • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
    • Muscles tension

    I’m sure you’ve heard the suggestion to count to ten when you get angry—well, you can make those ten seconds much more productive if you are breathing consciously during that time.

    Conscious breathing is as simple as it sounds; just be conscious of your breathing. Pay attention to the air going in and coming out.

    Breathe in through your nose:

    • Feel the air entering your nostrils.
    • Feel your lungs filling and expanding.
    • Focus on your belly rising.

    Breathe out through your nose:

    • Feel your lungs emptying.
    • Focus on your belly falling.
    • Feel the air exiting your nostrils.

    Do this for as long as you like. Leave the situation if you want. This gives the adrenaline time to normalize.

    Now you can address the situation with a calmer, more rational perspective and avoid damaging behavior.

    One of the troubles this squatter causes is that it adds to the sleep depriver’s issues. By evicting, or at least controlling the Reactor, you will decrease reactionary behavior, which will decrease the need for the rehashing and ruminating that may keep you from falling asleep.

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    Master your mind and stop the Reactor from bringing stress to you and your relationships!

    For the Sleep Depriver

    (They’re made up of the Inner Planner, the Rehasher and the Ruminator, along with the Inner Critic and the Worrier.)

    I was plagued with a very common problem: not being able to turn off my mind at bedtime. This inability prevented me from falling asleep and thus, getting a restful and restorative night’s sleep.

    Here’s how I mastered my mind and evicted the Sleep Depriver and all his cronies.

    1. I started by focusing on my breathing—paying attention to the rise and fall of my belly—but that didn’t keep the thoughts out for long. (Actually, I now start with checking my at-rest mouth position to keep me from clenching.)
    2. Then I came up with replacement strategy that eliminated uncontrolled thinking—imagining the word in while breathing in and thinking the word out when breathing out. I would (and do) elongate the word to match the length of my breath.

    When I catch myself thinking, I shift back to in, out. With this technique, I am still thinking, sort of, but the wheels are no longer spinning out of control. I am in control of my mind and I choose quiet.

    From the first time I tried this method I started to yawn after only a few cycles and am usually asleep within ten minutes.

    For really difficult nights, I add an increase of attention by holding my eyes in a looking-up position (Closed, of course!). Sometimes I try to look toward my third eye but that really hurts my eyes.

    If you have trouble falling asleep because you can’t shut off your mind, I strongly recommend you try this technique. I still use it every night. You can start sleeping better tonight!

    You can also use this technique any time you want to:

    • Fall back to sleep if you wake up too soon.
    • Shut down your thinking.
    • Calm your feelings.
    • Simply focus on the present moment. 

    The Bottom Line

    Your mind is a tool, and like any other tool, it can be used for constructive purposes or for destructive purposes.

    You can allow your mind to be occupied by unwanted, undesirable and destructive tenants, or you can choose desirable tenants like peace, gratitude, compassion, love, and joy.

    Your mind can become your best friend, your biggest supporter, and someone you can count on to be there and encourage you. The choice is yours!

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    Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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