How to Overcome Anticipatory Anxiety as an Entrepreneur
Anticipatory anxiety is common among entrepreneurs, but making some changes in our businesses and even our resumes can set the foundation for a great start.
Anticipatory anxiety is something a lot of people experience; however, many are not aware of it when it happens to them and don’t know how to manage it. In particular, if you’re an entrepreneur or facing changes in your career, you might be feeling this anxiety more often than usual, especially as we approach a new year that seems like it may be another wild one.
Before I share some techniques that have helped me and some of my clients with anticipatory anxiety, I want to talk more about how you can recognize it when it strikes. As the name implies, "anticipatory" is the action of anticipating something that has not yet happened, and when we anticipate something negative, it creates a sense of an overwhelming force — usually as soon as we open our eyes in the morning, making us want to hide under the covers and stay there. However, this is not a solution; it will only delay us and affect our productivity.
Remember, time is money.
In entrepreneurship, this phrase is especially true. Ongoing anticipatory anxiety can really affect the progress of our success. Our emotions play a key role in our productivity, so it’s very important that we learn to manage them and not let them stop us. What matters is to be able to keep going, no matter the pace.
The moment anxiety hits our minds, especially in the morning, the first thing to do is to breathe, acknowledge what we are feeling, not judge ourselves, not talk down to ourselves and accept this is normal.
Evaluate our emotions and think, Will it change my situation if I stay in bed, or will it change if I get up and start doing something about it? This is a good technique for people who struggle to get motivated every day.
Trust the power of taking action. When anticipatory anxiety strikes, remember that you’ve been here before, and you were able to recover. This time will be no different: Carry on, get up and take action — you will soon feel better and forget about it.
Although these practices will help us to manage our emotions, nothing will really get better unless we focus on making changes and address what’s causing the anxiety in our professional lives in the first place.
When we feel stagnant, are waiting for something to happen or don’t know how to act, it can make us frustrated, but not doing anything can be worse than taking action, as it is through action that we find guidance and truth. When we have this clarity, it can create a wonderful effect of momentum.
Below are five recommendations to create positive change and get ahead of the game:
Assess the aspects you want to change and your priorities
We often have many goals and many things to do, but this can become overwhelming. By making it a priority to work on what’s causing us anxiety, it will be easier to change it.
Look at what challenges or blocks you are facing
Confront yourself about why things aren't working out, and rather than just sit there and be frustrated, find how you can turn things around. Ask for feedback and do your research — with the right information, you will be able to create new strategies for your goals.
Like a boomerang effect, being proactive pays off, because when we set the ball in motion, things start to shift, and opportunities will come back to us. Even when you aren’t sure about something or the motivation isn't all there, take the initiative and action to put yourself out there. Make new contacts, pitch to new clients, send out resumes and ask for help and support. All this will work in your favor.
Invest in yourself
Take on a new program, course or project to gain more experience. In order to change our lives, we have to change ourselves first. As when we change ourselves, our mindset changes, our possibilities increase and our relationships improve, resulting in a more successful life overall. However, change will be less likely to happen if we do not change ourselves for the better first. It all starts with us.
Savor the pleasure of ambition
Many entrepreneurs who deal with anticipatory anxiety struggle to really feel the possibilities of achieving their goals. In fact, many don’t even know what their goals are, so having a plan, along with that emotional connection of what we are pursuing, can be very challenging and affect our emotions. It won’t matter how many life coaches we hire to help us with impostor syndrome — nothing can plant the seed of desire in ourselves but us. I recommend getting a taste of what you want by watching others, attending luxury events and traveling. Feel the possibilities so that the desire to succeed is truly in your heart, and your motivation will be unshakeable.
Remember, anxiety happens when we feel as though we don’t have control over a situation. However, when we have a wide range of clarity about our situation and are laser-focused on our goals, working only toward those ends, results are all but guaranteed. It takes one brick at a time to build a wall, and this is true with everything. So set your plan, take action and have fun with your transformation.
You will be unstoppable, deal less with anxiety and truly feel confident that you can make anything possible.
Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor