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Anxiety can take you off your game

As business owners our most valuable resource is not money, time or even our network.

Our most precious resource is focus.

When you just lost your biggest client or simply going through a dry spell, it is only natural (and quite common) to get a little anxious about how you are going to pay the bills. This anxiety can either drive us to action or it can slowly drive us crazy.

Anxiety kills focus.

In researching how anxiety affects us entrepreneurs I learned there are two major ways we typically confront anxiety — either meet it head on, or flip out. The academics call these two behaviors problem-based coping (doing something) and emotion-based coping (freaking out).

People who respond to hard times with emotion-based coping tend to get into a state of paralysis like a deer in the headlights. Perhaps the most debilitating aspect is the second-guessing. “Is there some other place where I can go for money? Maybe I should start a job search now, or pick up a few hours from a temp service.” “Maybe I should have gone into that other business that my friend tried talking me into.” Doing this only puts you in the spin cycle.

The winners in this story are those who tend toward problem-based coping, i.e., leaning into the problem, doing something in the direction of their dreams. The most difficult part of acting here is doing it when you feel it won’t lead to anything.

Three ways to Kill Anxiety and Regain Your Focus

  1. Draw your line in the sand. This is your business. Your lifeblood. Don’t give up easily. Commit. Yes, I realize this is far easier said than done.
  2. Take a deep breath (or two, or three). Get one of your closest self-employed friends to help you with a quick strategy session. Take no more than 20 minutes to brainstorm how you can act your way out of the blue funk. You can either do this over the phone or together over a quick cup of coffee. See this article and this article where we were able to turn things around for one business owner in about 60 minutes.
  3. Take a spiritual approach. Lean in to your Creator. Ask for His guidance. Listen to Praise and Worship music. Put on a podcast of your favorite preacher.