To be successful in the startup world requires an unrelenting amount of determination, persistence and trust. More than anything, though, it takes resilience to deal with the stress that seems to perpetually grow and not show any sign of slowing down.
Of the myriad strategies to execute and the relationships to develop as an entrepreneur, the stress associated with everything necessary for success can be unrelenting. Just when you thought you were “good,” 10 more to-dos get thrown onto your list. Here are six smart ways to reduce the startup stress:
1. Get rid of the to-do list.
Checklists have an unwelcoming way of growing and growing and growing. For me, the more unchecked boxes that appear in my little green notebook, the heavier the weight that bears upon my shoulders.
To-do lists create an illusion of productivity and priority. What was at the top of your list today may be thrown to the wayside tomorrow. Instead, try this: write an “I did” list that keeps track of your productivity. This way, you’re motivated to add to the list as opposed to feeling disheartened if you don’t.
2. Release your inner writer.
A 2005 study on the emotional and physical health benefits of writing included two groups of people. The first group was tasked with writing about stressful life events while their counterpart was instructed to write about more neutral topics. The results: writing three to five times for 15 to 20 minutes over a four-month time frame positively impacted their overall health.
3. Forget the goals. Focus on process.
I know. Hearing the word “process” makes those unshaven hairs on the back of your neck stick up because the last thing anybody needs is more rules. However, the reality is that the learning lessons and “fruit” of learning occur along the journey of attaining a goal, not in achieving it.
If you’ve ever played on a team then you know that consistency is what yields a win -- the daily grind of showing up and applying what you learned. It’s not so much the “plays” you learn but the habit of learning that becomes the winning process.
4. Fail fast.
While learning from successes can certainly reinforce what’s “right,” it doesn’t “fill the void” of what can be improved. An oversight, a slippage in judgment, a minimal effort or an unsuccessful attempt are the best takeaways from failure because they build your knowledge base.
Success or failure is only determined by where you stop. The faster you iterate through the cycle of create, innovate, reiterate (i.e. learn), the sooner you can apply those lessons towards the next great idea. One caveat: be sure not to disregard being deliberate or thorough for being hasty.
5. Burn it off.
It has been said before and I’ll say it again: exercise is one of the best stress reliefs out there. Rigorous activity for just 20 minutes, three times a week has been shown to reverse the symptoms of depression caused by stress. Remember, it’s not the goal that’s important but rather the process, or routine, to follow that’s the moneymaker.
6. Exercise your entrepreneurial chivalry.
Attitude is contagious. Random acts of kindness help brighten anybody’s day. The person on the receiving end will be pleasantly surprised that you went out of your way and in return, you'll feel positive from helping another.
On the one hand, stress is no fun as it eats away at your purpose. On the other hand, though, it serves as a fuel towards that same ambition. Manage your stress and you manage your entrepreneurial impact.
Related: Beat Burnout But Score Results