This little blog post is going out into the universe today; probably not to be read by anyone but me for a while, but the first post can’t be written until fingers actually hit the keyboard, so ready or not, here I come. Why might the first post I write be about anxiety? Well, let’s face it – I quit a decent, but unfulfilling job 2 weeks ago and I am technically unemployed. Unemployment has a tendency to make one anxious. It wasn’t an impulsive decision, but one I’ve rolled around in my brain for years… and frankly many months ago I couldn’t see myself doing what I was doing in the long term. So I planned for the change. I got up early and went to bed late in and around work; preparing and planning. I tried to squirrel away cash when I could and am super grateful for a supportive husband who believes in this aspiration of mine to be my own boss. Before I knew it, my last day arrived. And now my safety net is has a big hole in it, and I am fairly nervous about this!
That being said, I have been researching strategies for calming myself off the ledge that seem to be working – and lots of intrepid souls have paved the way before me, so there is lots of good information out there to help quell those moments of overwhelm. First and foremost, I need to remind myself that worst case scenarios HAVEN’T HAPPENED YET. That’s the beauty of starting your startup! Dan Zadra said, “Worry is a misuse of imagination.” It is kind of freeing to still be blissfully unaware of difficulties that will probably eventually crop up, but haven’t yet. My imagination can be put to better use with the other tasks at hand.
“Worry is a misuse of imagination.” – Dan Zedra
Something else that has been helpful is to give myself permission to be “Good Enough”. I don’t know if it’s because I’m an oldest child, or motivated by praise, but I am pretty good at raking myself over the coals when I don’t do everything perfectly. Lisa Evans, writer for Entrepreneur Magazine, says “While there’s nothing wrong with aiming high, perfectionism causes you to look at the world in all-or-nothing, black-or-white terms. This kind of thinking results in exacerbated stress levels and can be debilitating in our working lives. Imagine if you expect your product to be absolutely perfect. It may never make it to market.”
Another strategy that has been positive for me is just deciding to do something, even if it doesn’t feel perfect yet. Blogger Erik Barker writes about this. He says that people who are anxious have a need to control everything in order to reduce stress, “So when you make a decision, your brain feels you have control. And, as I’ve talked about before, a feeling of control reduces stress. But here’s what’s really fascinating: Deciding also boosts pleasure.” Deciding something early on in my business to have in place is way better for me than stressing out about having it perfect before I can move forward to something else. Get it in place and if I want to improve or upgrade, there’s plenty of time for that later.
Lastly, writing down “the thing” that has been freaking me out and examining it closely instead of avoiding it has been super helpful. It almost requires a split personality – I have to look at “the thing” and step out of myself and think about how I would tell one of my kids to handle it. All of the sudden I get all logical on myself and can see things more clearly as they are and not how I imagine them to be.
So to recap –
1. Worst case scenarios haven’t happened yet.
2. It’s ok to be good enough. Don’t wait for perfection in order to start where you are.
3. Make decisions. Circumstances don’t need to be perfect, just decide something, then do it.
4. That thing that is freaking you out? Name it. Look at it. Don’t run away from it. How would you tell a loved one to handle that thing? Tell it to yourself the same way.
Starting a business has been nerve-wracking and exhilarating at the same time, but I keep remembering my why, I take lots of deep breathing breaks; I pick something to work on and don’t allow myself to be paralyzed. Lots of things are new to me, but I’ve done hard things before. This is just a new hard thing with lots of blessings and benefits that being someone else’s employee can’t provide.
If you are reading this today, I would love to hear your strategies or tips for overcoming startup anxiety. Thanks for reading my first blog post!