The struggles that come along with being an entrepreneur are real. There is an endless supply of positivity and pride that accompany the world of self-starters, but the stress and the barriers we face are concrete, re-occurring and can honest-to-God be the demise of our success. After becoming entrenched in stress and clouded by my inability to navigate some of my own work issues, I started to divide and conquer. I wrote down my daily stresses. You know, the things that make your stomach clench up or that make you break out into cold sweat? They're pretty terrible feelings but they kept me on my toes and they allowed me to acknowledge and change for the better. I explained to myself WHY these things stressed me out and why they shouldn't. I literally coached myself as I began to understand why these things wouldn't break me, unless of course I let them. I started to internalize that at the end of the day, no matter what I was facing, my family loved me, I was healthy and I was fortunate enough to come out ahead of most problems that came my way. These were such powerful moments in my life; I felt compelled to share my experiences with you, as well as "aha!" moments that may help turn that light bulb on for you!
1. Understand your time. One thing that took me a while to learn was that time is neither on my side or working against me. Time isn't supposed to be your friend or your enemy. Time is time. Learning to live with the time I had each day to work, be with those I loved and take care of myself was a challenge. Not only did I feel like I needed MORE time, (how selfish was I?) but when I was able to take down time, I felt guilty; like there was always work to be done. As an entrepreneur, you get out exactly what you put in. My success depended on how much I put in. It's still something I work on each day, but I've taken some serious strides. We all get the same 24 hours in a day. How we choose to use those hours and more importantly, what attitude we choose to have during those hours is what counts. I write out my to-do's for the day and the week, and if I get them done, I have time for me with no guilt attached. Don't let time stress you out. Make it work for you.
2. Separate work from non-work things. The struggle is REAL and from what I can see, I am not alone. Realizing that I'm not alone actually makes me feel a lot better and you should too. It's too easy NOT to pop into your e-mail, schedule a call or delegate tasks with our smart phones and tablets and magical flying saucers (made that one up, but you know what I mean) so easily accessible. I still find myself on the couch with my significant other right next to me, scrolling through e-mails like a zombie. When I come to, I feel gross! I have the most amazing person in the world sitting next to me whom I haven't seen all day and here I am deleting spam and filing e-mails. If you take ANYTHING away from this article, let it be this: The people you love, the people who love you so deeply do NOT deserve that. They deserve you, your love, your laughs, your hand at Uno and your undivided attention. Again, I am working on this each day but the effort is so refreshing and the result is so beautiful. This stress is something we create for ourselves. It strains our relationships with those around us and with ourselves. Eliminate this one...it's easier than you think.
3. Be content. Many self-starters would argue with me here and I understand why. Being content will not take your business to the next level. Entrepreneurs are hungry and anxious to work, and I can definitely relate to those tendencies. However, being content with your hard work, your sacrifices, and your ability to make sh** happen is what you DO need to be content with. You need to understand that you are human and that all of the amazing things you do deserve a pat on the back (and maybe a glass of wine). The mistakes you've made wouldn't be possible if you didn't take a leap of faith that most people are not willing to take. Kudos to you for that. Please, BE content with all of the stones you've stepped on during your journey. Stay hungry, but acknowledge how hard you work and how scary this stuff can be.
From one entrepreneur to another, things WILL be good. In fact, they will be GREAT and you will prevail. I encourage you (no really, PLEASE do it) to write down what's keeping you up at night, internalize it and coach yourself on feeling GOOD about these struggles. Stop yourself mid aimless scroll when you're with your family and put your phone away. Finish your work for the day and do something for YOU; you've earned it. You are a warrior of the working world and an icon to Americans of all ages aspiring to bring their dreams to life. Onward!