Anxiety, fear and entrepreneurship – why aren’t we talking about it?
It’s the life we dream about when we embark on entrepreneurship, being able to achieve the freedom, fulfilling the dream and having financial security, but do we ever talk about the anxiety and depression that comes along with going on a very unpredictable venture? No matter how many times you watch a GaryV video or listen to an uplifting Oprah interview the fact is, you’re going to have to go on this journey. I see it as a little bit like another relationship that you’ll have to figure out, love, nurture and grow.
We need to factor in the anxiety of leaving a secure job, because the real world outside of that doesn’t care much about your previous job title or how many years it took for you to climb the ladder. In this world of entrepreneurship, all they care about and all you should care about is giving value on top of value. Of course, this isn’t easy. No on starts out knowing everything and no one can resolve your fear of taking the leap. I’ve been there and I’m still there, no day is the same, so some days I’m loving it and my ‘why’ lives through me and other days I feel like crawling into the corner of my office and hiding from the world.
I know how you feel, so let’s talk about how to handle your anxiety and fear.
Build a support network - I stand by this and would recommend finding likeminded people as one of my number one tip for fighting entrepreneurial anxiety. The more people you surround yourself with, who understand the journey, the easier it will be for you to vent your anxiety. Venting is an important part of the process, it’s an old and well used quote, but ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’ and this applies. I don’t know where I would be if I didn’t have my network, because we support each other through the pits and the highs. Having a network also forces you to focus on someone else other than yourself, which is great for building mindfulness, so you don’t get too caught up in your own thoughts.
Exercise – you need to build a strong body for your mind to operate in; the bad habits tend to heighten when you’re going it alone. I mean, how often do you get less than 5 hours sleep every night, drink 4 plus cups of coffee every day, snack on things you shake your head at every time you pick it, plus the lack of regular exercise. This entire concoction can create the perfect environment for anxiety to breed and make lots of little babies. That’s when you feel the loom of anxiety mixed with depression pushing down on your existence, with every moment. That often ends in a jam-packed inbox, failure to launch or even a very badly thought out business deal. You need to look after number one too, you can’t hope to run a successful business if your mind and body can’t with-stand the ride.
Focus on your why – because no one else knows it better than you do. I have been here many times and each time my ‘why’ over powers my anxiety and fear of cutting my journey short. Sometimes your mind may become a little off focus and you will question everything about what you’ve started, but just taking a moment to just focus on your ‘why’ can make all the difference. Why did you start? What would this mean for everyone you created it for? No knows but you and that’s powerful – remember that.
Face the worst scenario – it may help to put things into perspective. A lot of the times our greatest worry and cause for anxiety is our fear of failure. You’ve probably thought about all the things that could go wrong on multiple occasions, but have you thought about the solutions? Think about your worst-case scenario.
It may mean losing a few hours of your time or possibly some money. Now, think about the solution – brain storm all the various avenues you could take to resolve the situation. It’s about getting into the habit of seeing solutions by not dwelling on the problem. You may need to get on the phone and make some cold calls, take on your first p/t employer or even a freelancer, take a couple of days off or go hard for a week to catch up on lost time or finances. A mind that constantly focuses on the issues will only see the issues, so make it a habit to see solutions.
Take a risk – as if being an entrepreneur isn’t enough, your risk-taking journey has just begun. Jot down all the crazy ideas you have for your business, then right next to each one your ‘how’. Don’t worry about your level of crazy when it comes to your ideas, because you’re capable of anything. I have dreamt about what I’m doing now for so long and I am just scratching at the surface, my dream is a big one, so I take little bites at it. One piece at a time until I get there, and that’s what you need to do. Take the steps towards your crazy ideas, no matter how big or how small, soon they’ll add up.
Entrepreneurship is beautiful, I grew up fantasising about running awesome businesses like my mother did. I got my DIY, build your own website and everything else you need flare from her and I love it, but what I didn’t factor in while day dreaming was the fear of failure and anxiety. It wasn’t easy to learn how to manage it all and I’m still learning, so my message to you is don’t run away from it, talk about it, face it and overcome it.
It happens to extraordinary people like you who are trying to innovate and change the world. If you stop, you’ll be leaving the world at a disadvantage of not experiencing your amazing ideas. It wasn’t going to be easy, but in all honestly, why should it? Some molds are hard to break, so crack on!