Managing Anxiety When Running Your Own Business

April 25, 2018

Before starting my own company, I coached a lot of people on staying motivated and productive under pressure. I was sure that my reminding people to stay focused on the right aspects of growth, big or small, was the key to getting through. Now that I am in the client, I’ll confess that my coaching advice has really changed. Here’s what I am really finding helpful.

How To Stay Sane When You're Starting Your Own Business | marcellakelson.com

1) I remind myself that one day I will look back. It sounds stupid, but when I listen to podcasts or read interviews on CEO’s or self made women, I am always looking for references to the past which reflect how I am feeling right now. I expose myself to people who are willing to talk honestly about how difficult growth and vulnerability are when you are starting off. The message I repeatedly hear is, “I didn’t know what this was going to become, but I just kept going.” Similarly, I don’t know what this will become, but I can only find out if I keep going.

2) I try to distinguish between my intuition and my mind. I have one of those minds that is constantly racing, doubting, questioning. Since launching this business, throughout a single day, I can oscillate between being the happiest person on earth, to wanting to hide in the corner and never come out. I feel like a hormonal teenager all over again. My intuition reminds me that I am a hard worker and will stop at nothing to achieve happiness. My fear tells me people think I am dumb, that I am annoying, that no one wants to hear what I have to stay. Reminding myself that my fear and my heart do not align has been a consistent relief. My intuition keeps telling me to keep going, to ignore people’s opinions, and to stay focused on my values. At the end of the day, my money is on my intuition. It has yet to lead me in astray.

3) I think in quarters. As someone whose career history is entirely in mental health and public services, I was never really exposed to the value of “quarters”. Thinking in terms of years used to motivate my when I was in graduate school. However, since starting this business, the possibilities years from now change daily. I have no idea where any of this will take me. So I’ve started to break down my career goals in to quarters. For example, I have a certain amount of content that I want to generate by the end of the quarter. Maybe I would like a certain amount of average website visitors by the end of the quarter. Or a certain amount of content downloads. I keep the goals small, sustainable, achievable but inspiring. Using these guidelines has helped me avoid getting overwhelmed by “big picture” goals which will most likely evolve over time.

4) I visualize and manifest. I generally try to stay away from unrelatable concepts that make people feel like they can’t relate, but visualizing/manifesting has been a game changer for me. I often get in to bed completely wired, so after a bit of meditation, I try to visualize a huge success, or a specific outcome that I am working hard to achieve. I visualize how it will feel when I succeed and I try to believe it with my whole heart.

5) I remind myself why. I started this business, in fact this entire career, with the intention of helping people. The new platforms I am using to help people (social media) may have changed, but the intention is the same. Every day that I help someone, I feel successful. Getting too wrapped up in getting attention or likes is actually totally unrelated to my values, but I can easily forget that.

6) I hoard positive feedback. Seriously, I have an IPhoto Folder titled “Confidence Boost”, with screen shots of positive feedback that I have gotten from friends/family/anyone really.  If someone says something supportive to me in person, I write it down in a note and screen shot that so I can add it to the inventory.  When my head gets in the way and I start to panic that I am embarrassing myself or that I really, really suck, I scroll through it and just remind myself that I have fans! Yes, they might also be my siblings, but they are fans nonetheless!

7) I embraced my biggest fear. My biggest fear in all of this, and in life in general to be honest, is humiliation. I am alway so worried that I will make a giant fool out of myself. Since I used social media, and blog, my life is somewhat accessible 24/7. At first, I resisted this reality and some days I still do. But recently, during a session, one of my coaches asked me the fundamental question “are really you willing to be judged and projected on by other people? Are you willing to let people dump their own, unresolved issues on to you and call it your problem?”. My answer was quite simply: YES! I know that when people judge me, it has absolutely nothing to do with me. I teach this all day long, and I am more than happy to be someone that people project on to. I can handle it because I really and truly believe in what I am doing. In fact I hope they project so much on to me that at some point they say, “screw this, I’m going to ask for help.” And that’s when I come in :).

8) Hey, at least I am doing it. So many people have a dream about starting a company, changing careers, making drastic changes in their lives. I recognize that at least I am going after my dreams, which is easier said than done. It’s easy for people to sit back and judge, I have to remind myself: no one above me is looking down with judgement.

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