Let’s talk about navigating entrepreneurial anxiety.
If you are an entrepreneur with anxiety, you may be struggling in many facets of your business, the first, creating a personal brand. Other areas anxiety may be holding you back include being present on social media, creating videos, writing blogs, scheduling sales calls, and building relationships.
It’s also possible that fear resulting from anxiety is keeping you in a cycle of procrastination.
As an entrepreneur with anxiety, I can relate
Talk about the fear of building a personal brand, I can relate! I started my entrepreneurial journey as a photographer and I hid behind my camera. I posted a lot of pretty photos, but they weren’t of me. People that didn’t already know me didn’t get the opportunity to see who I am. This means they didn’t have the opportunity to get to know me, build a relationship with me, or trust me.
This delayed me building a solid foundation for my business, which involves being present, being the face of your brand, differentiating yourself – talking about yourself, and building relationships.
Fear of judgment and people not liking you holds you back. Entrepreneurs have a lot of what-ifs moving around in their brains and it’s hard to break the cycle. It takes intentional action, which we’ll get to in a bit.
The problem with letting these thoughts control us is that we create a negative cycle. We procrastinate, and our business stays small, which can be okay if that is your goal, but staying small is a disservice to those who need your expertise.
Listen to the podcast episode here:
As an entrepreneur with anxiety, you must realize your thoughts will create your results.
This is true. If you are sitting in a cycle of negative thoughts, you will feel down, fear will arise, and other negative emotions. When we have negative emotions, we don’t take action. Procrastination leads to paralysis.
Think of a circle – in my book, You, Me, and Anxiety, I use the example of a Ferris Wheel. Negative thoughts come into our brains and they just keep coming in faster and faster. What if I fail, what if no one likes me, what if no one hires me, what if I make a fool of myself, what if they talk about me, what if they don’t hire me?
We must catch these thoughts as they come in so that we can challenge them. Most of the negative thoughts are irrational. They are unrealistic. If you get into a pattern of changing the negative thoughts, letting them escape from your mind, and letting positive thoughts take over, you will begin to be able to control the thoughts you have. Little by little, gradually, you will have more control over the way you think. Then you will become more confident. As you become more confident, you will have more positive thoughts, less imposter syndrome, more positive, happy, motivating emotions, and will take more action. Collectively, positive thoughts, positive emotions, and actions will produce more results.
How to change your thoughts as an entrepreneur with anxiety
I just provided a summary of my 5 Cs of journaling method for navigating anxiety. To learn more you can read, You, Me, and Anxiety. But something important to note is that if we want it to, our faith can come before our thoughts. We can look to faith to influence our thoughts.
The Bible tells us in 1 Peter 5:7 to “cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” We can certainly pray and give our anxiety to God. He can help us navigate anxiety if we trust Him and allow the Holy Spirit to work in our hearts, guide us, and give us patience and wisdom.
In Philippians 4:8 Paul writes “Finally, brothers, [sisters], whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.
If we follow Paul’s advice, we will think more positively and hopefully have fewer negative thoughts that result in limiting beliefs, deflated emotions, and inaction.
Yes, anxiety will cause negative, fearful thoughts to creep into the minds of anxious entrepreneurs, but if you are an entrepreneur with anxiety, you can take action to start controlling your thoughts.
It isn’t easy and it takes time. You have to make this a daily practice. Using the 5 C’s journaling method alongside prayer is empowering along with the other strategies I’ll mention shortly.
Start flipping the script in your mind. When a negative what if pops up, change it to a positive what if. I think you’ll see a change in your anxiety levels and you’ll definitely see a change in your productivity and results.
Develop healthy habits to decrease anxiety on your entrepreneurial journey
Everyone, but especially if you are an entrepreneur with anxiety, needs as many tools in their toolbox as possible to navigate the entrepreneurship journey. It is hard. To say entrepreneurship is challenging is an understatement.
But if you are an anxious entrepreneur like me, I think you have additional challenges. It’s harder to navigate the thoughts and control them when you have anxiety. But taking action to change your thoughts and thus your behaviors and actions is key.
Here are a few things you can do to help you navigate your anxiety on your journey of entrepreneurship.
Stop mindless scrolling
One of the best things you can do to decrease anxiety as an entrepreneur is to stop comparing yourself to others who are steps ahead of you. In fact, stop comparing yourself to anyone. You are on a journey of one, a journey of you. God has placed this calling, your purpose, on your heart. He knows that you have the talents, gifts, and abilities to accomplish what he’s called you for.
Be compassionate with yourself, the way you would be compassionate with your best friend. Set realistic expectations, not expectations based on what you see people doing online.
Implement the 5 C’s journaling method for anxiety
- When you are feeling anxious, step away from your work. Give yourself time to reset. Go for a walk, read a book, listen to music, get creative, pray, meditate, call a friend whom you know will be a positive light in your day.
Set manageable goals
- Be realistic and compassionate when you set your goals. Start with 90-day goals, not annual goals. Break your 90-day goals down into three parts, one per month, and then break those down into three big tasks per month. Doing this will help you stay focused on smaller tasks, get to scratch them off your to-do list, and not become overwhelmed by increased anxiety, which may result in more procrastination.
Create healthy habits
The healthier your lifestyle, the healthier your mind will be.
- Eat a healthy well-balanced diet
- Drink plenty of water
- Get 8 hours of sleep each night
- Do daily devotions
Creating a gratitude practice will help you navigate anxiety. How? Because you will begin to see all of the blessings you have, all of the things you’ve done right, the people who are supporting you or hiring you, and how brave and talented you truly are.
The more you practice gratitude, the more your brain will begin to see the positives around you and in your business and life and you won’t go to that negative place of what-ifs as quickly. This takes time and practice, but it really does help you see the positives even in the worst scenarios in your business.
Case in point. I have recently been on a PR frenzy because my book, You, Me, and Anxiety is publishing on March 15th. A local paper picked up my story. The article went out and there were errors. I could have focused on the errors and been extremely disappointed that the article wasn’t perfect. But I chose to be grateful that the article was published, and more people are going to learn about me and the book, which means more people will have help with navigating their anxiety. And, I took that moment to thank the writer and asked if she could change the digital article. She did. Sometimes, if we can just stay calm and be grateful for the moment everyone wins.
Perfectionism is going to lead you to procrastination, which will lead you to paralysis. Sometimes, perfectionism begins with comparison, but often, it starts with anxiety and the innate need to do everything perfectly to avoid negative consequences.
Realize that as entrepreneurs, we all do things wrong. And that is the beauty of entrepreneurship. We make mistakes and learn from them. We fail and must pick ourselves up. But if we never make mistakes or fail, we aren’t learning, we aren’t growing, and we’ll never fully know what it’s like to succeed. No one expects you to be perfect. Courteous, yes. Professional, yes. Authentic, yes. But perfect, no!
You aren’t alone as an entrepreneur with anxiety
Anxiety in entrepreneurship is something that people have been talking about for years. When I was preparing to write this article and record it for the podcast I did a little bit of research to see how prevalent the topic was.
The search result produced over 61 million listings on Google. But one stood out. It was from 2017 in Psychology Today written by Chloe Brotheridge. In the article she listed 5 things to help entrepreneurs manage anxiety: self-compassion, taking breaks, meditation, phone boundaries, and procrastination. She doesn’t recommend procrastination but breaking tasks down into manageable items so as not to get so overwhelmed.
Hiring a coach to help you navigate the business decisions and mindset is empowering for an entrepreneur with anxiety
Lastly, I want to leave you with the concept of hiring a coach if you are an entrepreneur with anxiety. Making business decisions is challenging enough, but when you add anxiety to the mix, it can be even more overwhelming.
Instead of trying to navigate your anxiety and your entrepreneurial journey alone, consider investing in someone who can help you with both business and mindset strategies for success.
If you are curious about how I work with my clients and help them navigate anxiety and build a solid foundation for brand and business success, schedule a call with me to see how we can work together to ensure your success.