It’s inevitable, if you’re an entrepreneur, there will be stress. It’s how you manage that stress or use it for fuel, that’s important. There are days when I feel absolutely overwhelmed by the pace I’ve set for myself. There is always more to do and on occasion I’ve completely lost track of time trying to get one more task ticked off my to-do list. There are days when I question my sanity for starting my own business. I mean what the heck was I thinking leaving a well paying, cushy corporate job for a life of uncertainty, where the weight of the world, or at least the company, rests on my shoulders and where money is so incredibly scarce.
The biggest source of my stress is usually money or the lack of it. Can I hire more people? Can I give out raises and bonuses to my incredibly loyal team? Can I afford to hire an agency to help grow the business. Can I find investors to scale ProcureHub across Canada and into the US? Can I even afford to pay myself? I worry I’m not doing enough and sometimes, when I’m feeling particularly stressed, I worry about failing. The business, my team, my family and yes myself. The pressure on entrepreneurs to get up and “grind” is pervasive leading to burnout, depression and even throwing in the towel to escape the pressure cooker. I’ve thought about it (frequently) but I’ve been at it too long to turn back now and thankfully I’ve learned to manage stress and even use it to fuel my passion for my entrepreneurial dream.
The best way I’ve found to manage my stress level is to maintain a consistent morning routine. I know it sound a bit cliché but I’m part of the 5am club. Getting up early, at least on weekdays, helps me prepare my mind, spirit and body for a great day. It starts as soon as I open my eyes. Before my feet even hit the floor I start with my gratitude practice. There are ten things I wake up everyday that I’m grateful for, (besides waking up). It starts with my family and health. My dogs and cats who bring me pure joy and unconditional love. My company and my dedicated team. My loyal clients (who I’m kinda obsessed with), among other things that most of us take for granted.
I’ll admit to being a bit of a coffee fiend and so I start my day with my first cup, watch motivational videos on my iPad and headphones so I don’t wake up my sleeping family. I’ve got a favourite playlist I listen to including Motiversity, Motivation Ark and some Coach Pain who is known for his fitness motivation but also for entrepreneurs. I then like to meditate and will usually try to practice guided meditation, visualization and manifestation with Mary Kate or priming with Tony Robbins. I find it helps to calm and brings me clarity when I focus and visualize my goals and how it will feel when I achieve them. Mind and spirit ready, I move my body, stretching and doing yoga wakes me up and gets the blood flowing. It also helps the inevitable aches and pains we all experience as we age.
Next I write in my journal three things I’m grateful for from the previous day. It could be ticking off a task from my to-do list, a great client meeting or spending time with my children who are actually grown adults now. I then write down my big scary goals for the next three years. There are eight I list in date order. I do this every single day so I can’t help but be laser focus on them. It feels amazing to write down those goals every day and tick off two big ones; Launching ProcureHub is first on the list. What a joy to tick off that goal everyday. It’s my way of celebrating every day a massive accomplishment. Next is launching my online course; “The 4 Steps To Agile Procurement”. Also a big and challenging goal I’m proud to now have completed. The other goals are a work in progress and some are really big and scary like growing ProcureHub to be a global marketplace and visualizing a massive party with all the other entrepreneurs from the ProcureHub community, as we celebrate surpassing $100M in flow through revenue by the end of year 2025. I can’t wait to tick that one off my list! Last I write down the three or four actions I need to take that day that will support one of the big goals. Journalling down, it’s time for a second cup of the good stuff, then dive into email, check my schedule, social and get myself ready for the day.
Another thing that helps manage my stress and acts often as fuel is meeting with my team. They keep me grounded, energized and focused on what’s really important. Brainstorming, talking through ideas and processes gives me a sense of order and camaraderie that is positively energizing. This helps me to get out of my head, where stressful thoughts thrive, and out of my own way by reinforcing we are heading in the right direction, we have what it takes and with the right planning and persistence, our goals are within reach.
Another strategy which may seem a bit strange but that I will admit here is that I talk to myself and encourage myself to push through if I’m having a challenging day or am faced with what may seem like an insurmountable obstacle. Sometime we need someone to kick us in the butt to get us going and sometimes, if you are an entrepreneur, that someone has to be you. I remember one day I was doing some research on the competition and found a new competitor I was unaware of who just launched a similar marketplace. At first I was completely panicked, and my stress level shot through the roof catastrophizing what would happen, including losing my investment, shutting down the company, etc. etc. etc. I realized I was spiraling and forced myself to stop by literally yelling at myself to stop, reminding myself of who I am and why I’m doing this and screaming “THIS IS MY YEAR!” I felt the adrenaline course through my body, and I was FIRED UP! It is self talk and positive affirmations that can short circuit the negative thoughts and give you that must needed boost.
Additionally, when I’m faced with stressful thoughts that threaten to derail my day, I try to think through the situation rationally and objectively. What is the likelihood of that negative thing happening? Has it happened in the past or have I always been able to navigate similar challenges? Why is this any different? I then release the negative thought knowing that it cannot help me but only serves to harm my ability to achieve my goals. I then promise myself to release that thought immediately. It usually works.
Last, when I stay busy, I’m feeling my most productive and in control of my destiny. I literally don’t have time for stress in my day if I’m staying focused and actively working on my goals. It makes me feel great when I have accomplished much and had a highly productive day.
I hope some of these strategies will work for you. Drop a comment and share with others what you do to manage your stress.