You'll Worry Less About Your Business Goals When You Start Doing More to Accomplish Them
It starts with something small, niggling in the back of your mind. Maybe you lost a client, a sale fell through or a payment is late. Or maybe it was something someone said. Your mind starts to propel forward, then backward and forward again, imagining doomsday scenarios and worst possible outcomes. It feels so real that your heart starts pumping. You try to focus on something else, but within minutes you’re on the same negative train of thought. Congrats -- you’ve officially entered the worry zone.
Worry, doubt and fear are all emotions most people would consider pretty negative, but for entrepreneurs, worry and fear can be particularly tough because they can impact your livelihood. The good news is fear and worry can also be helpful. Your worries around financial failure, rejection and opportunity costs may be just the fuel you need to get going and take action. So, the next time you start to worry, reach for these strategies to put fear in your rearview mirror and keep moving toward your goals:
1. Gain some awareness.
While fears and worry can certainly feel real, most worries are set in the future. The scenarios you are imagining haven’t happened yet. There's a useful acronym for this type of fearful thinking -- False Events Appearing Real (F.E.A.R.). The trick is to become conscious of fear-based thinking and actively deciding to make a change. Awareness is key.
2. Accept the (limited) value of your worry.
Now that you’re aware of your worry, it’s time to reframe things. Cognitive restructuring can be an effective way to test the validity of your thoughts. Ask yourself, Is this worry helpful in solving my problem? Then test out your own theory. You may find worrying is not helpful at all. But what if there is some validity to your worries? Your initial fears that triggered worry can be a great signal that something needs to change. Dig deep, figure out what’s really bothering you, then make some changes.
3. Give worry a deadline.
Even if you find limited value in your worrying, you still need to cut yourself off or you risk becoming unproductive. Placing a limit on your worries is not about suppressing fearful feelings but about giving them limited space and time in your life. You only have so much time, energy and focus in a day, so don't waste those resources on worry. Give yourself permission to work through the emotion, then set a deadline then get off the worry train.
4. Create and repeat a worry-free affirmation or habit.
Next, replace your worry-filled thoughts to break the fear cycle. Try creating a self-assertion you tell yourself whenever you start to worry. Make it simple but meaningful. Something like, “Things always work out for me,” “I’m just going to keep moving forward,” or “I’ve made through tough spots before, so I know I can do it again.” If affirmations aren’t your style, create a physical habit to shake up your mental state. Walking, running or any type of exercise that gets your body moving has the potential to shift your state of mind.
5. Take one step forward.
Just one step. Nothing more, nothing less. People tend to freeze up when they’re full of worry and not sure what to do. Pick one thing you can do right now to keep moving forward. Break down a larger task into chunks, make one phone call, or set a timer to work on a project for 20 minutes. Choose small, impactful actions that make sense for where you’re at.
6. Reach for gratitude.
It’s hard to think about what’s going right when everything seems to be going to hell in a handbasket, but practicing gratitude is one of the quickest ways to get yourself out of a funk. By focusing on the things you are grateful for, you automatically create more space for uplifting thoughts and less room the negativity clouding your mind. Take a moment and think about something -- anything you are grateful for right now. Even if it’s just your health, a good cup of coffee or the fact that you own your own business.
7. Keep the faith and your mind strong.
When it comes down to it, entrepreneurs need to have an insane belief in their ability to succeed. Statistics, strangers, online trolls and even friends and family may tell you there’s no way you’re going to make it. All the more reason your faith in yourself needs to be rock solid. One of the best ways to keep a strong mental state is to hang out with other entrepreneurs who love what they do. Podcasts, books and online groups that talk about overcoming obstacles and share success stories are also a good route. Use the strength of others to inspire you and get you back on track.
Entrepreneurship is much more of a mental battle than most people recognize. While most business owners know fear and worry are a natural part of an entrepreneurs' path, it doesn't make it any easier. Still dwelling on tough emotions can cause us to lose confidence, make bad decisions or keep us stuck. By mapping out mental steps to curb worry when it starts to set in, you can move forward and up your chances of succeeding in the face of obstacles, no matter what gets tossed your way.