If you think back to all the movies you watched about famous entrepreneurs, you’ll see a pattern. Most of them are portrayed as socially awkward & restless.
It’s almost a stereotype.
Just think back to the most recent example – Mark Zuckerberg’s hearing at the Senate. Within 24 hours the internet was packed with memes about his behavior, from the way he drinks water to the outliers suggesting that he’s not human.
Many entrepreneurs face similar obstacles in one form or another.
From family telling you that you’re crazy to the numb looks on your friends’ faces that say, “Why don’t you just get a job?”
An entrepreneur’s mind is wired differently
Our minds are wired to challenge social norms and 9-to-5 jobs. We are wired to seek freedom and risk in the process.
So, there is often no way around being labeled as “strange.” But that’s not what we want to talk about today – it’s the way of the world and there’s no point in wasting energy on how others perceive us.
Our focus today are the real challenges – the anxiety that comes with overdue invoices, slow beginnings and hurdles on the road to success. To be more specific, we want to address the health hazards that come with “the job” – both physical and mental.
Below are our 3 tips on how to get through it all without burning out.
1. Know what to expect
If you’re new to the game, you probably have the road to success all mapped out. Don’t kill the messenger, but chances are it’s not going to be that simple.
When you come up with a new idea for a business, you’re biased from the get-go. In the planning process we tend to over-emphasize the reasons why it will work and silent the voices telling us it might not.
It’s only natural because starting a new business is stressful enough, even without giving way to every small doubt that creeps up.
However, there is a fine line between being positive and losing sense of reality. If you’re just starting the journey, the skill of telling the difference between real risks and unreasonable fear is crucial.
What to do about it
There’s no better way to arm yourself for the battle than knowing what to expect. Every successful entrepreneur could compile a list of all the things they wish they knew before starting out.
Think about how useful it would be to have access to those lists. Well, the good news is that, to a certain extent, you can…by reading about it.
There are books out there that are worth their weight in gold for a fresh entrepreneur – you can see a list of top five book recommendations here.
2. Guard your physical health every step of the way
This is an important one because it’s easiest to sacrifice once the merry-go-round starts. There will always be one more thing to do in the evenings and a good reason to skip a meal or two.
Those of us who went through it know the feeling all too well. You feel guilty about getting a nap or exercising for 30 minutes because you think that your competitor is working much harder.
It’s a mental trap that will run amok if you let it.
Before you know it, you’re working 18-hour days and it’s been two months since the last time you had a cup of coffee with your best friend.
Sleep and naps
Sleep deprivation has the most immediate impact on our efficiency. If you eat junk food for a few days, it will take time before the negative effects take toll. But, if you deprive yourself of two hours of sleep every night for a week, your decision-making skills and productivity plummets (even if you don’t feel it).
You start relying on two large cups of coffee just to get you going in the mornings. Getting a full night of sleep is crucial for achievement in business.
There is a good reason why companies like Google have nap-dedicated areas. It’s boosted productivity.
What to do about it
Make a sleep schedule and stick to it (the best you can). There will be times when you simply have to deviate, but don’t make a habit of it.
Problems falling asleep – anxiety and your racing mind
Once you’re working for yourself, brain chemistry changes. During the days, it’s a good thing – it keeps you going and you don’t feel as tired as you would on a 9-to-5 job.
The “main” chemicals behind the feeling are cortisol and adrenaline. Simply put – they make us feel pumped and ready for the long hours.
However, they might become a problem in the long run if we fail at one “simple” task – telling our brain when it’s time to slow down.
Plainly speaking, it’s why we often find it hard to stop mulling over our plans and problems when it’s time to go to sleep.
What to do about an anxious mind
The first thing is to try and re-establish the body-to-brain connection.
Plan your pre-sleep routines and turn them into habits. This can be as simple as darkening the room and listening to soothing music for an hour before bedtime.
Do that every evening, and your brain will soon get the message, “We’re going to sleep soon.”
If that doesn’t work and you still find it hard to fall asleep, you can take things one step further by directly addressing the rampant cortisol. Before you reach for the sleeping pills, try a more conservative solution like a weighted blanket.
In case you don’t know what it is – it’s simply a blanket with some extra weight added. There is growing evidence that these can help with lowering cortisol and promoting melatonin (the sleep hormone) – you can read more about weighted blankets here.
This one is a bit simpler than proper sleep because it comes down to resisting urges.
In the short term, it might feel good to get that sugar boost but it takes significant toll in the long run.
And no we’re not just talking about health implications here…
You might feel that letting yourself go is a small price to pay for the success of your business. That’s not a way to look at things.
First of all, if you have a plan that involves thoughts like, “I’ll get back in shape once things calm down,” you can forget about it right here and now. It almost never works.
On the scientific side of things, binging on too much sugar lowers your brain’s ability to process it. That’s why, as time goes by, you need increasingly more to get the “kick.”
Before you know it, you’ll find it very hard to function and think without it.
What to do instead
Again, it’s all about planning right and mustering the will to follow through.
Base your diet on slow-release carbs (vegetables) and protein. This will not only keep you healthy but it will allow you to get a much bigger boost from simple carbs (sugar) when you most need it.
3. Nurture your mental health
Entrepreneurial life is a roller coaster. The better job you do at getting it to spin slower and embodying the mindset of a successful businessperson, the better off you’ll be.
There will be highs and there will be lows.
The best advice we can give you here is to not allow your business to become 100% of your life.
Maintain the friendships, keep your hobbies or take on new ones, take days off…your business will still be there.
Make a habit of celebrating small wins. The celebration can be as small as taking 15 minutes to drink a glass of wine – it will make all the difference.
Finally, never stop learning
Grow as a person and professional and your ability to cope with the challenges will follow.
Don’t get carried away when you’re winning and learn not to panic when things are slow.
And always remember, what you’re doing sure beats the 9-to-5 grind.
The post The Anxious Mind of an Entrepreneur – Coping with What Lies Ahead appeared first on Home Business Magazine.
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