Anxiety is a confidence killer; it saps energy and creativity in business and in life. Left untreated long enough, it'll suck the life right out of you. I recently wrote about some ways in which I failed to deal with anxiety as a young entrepreneur. Hindsight is 20/20, and we can learn powerful lessons from our mistakes.
Looking back, however, I see that I did some things right, too. I may not have done them with the conscious intention of reducing anxiety, but it was a powerful side effect. The following three practices kept the worst of it at bay for me, and I know they can do the same for you.
1. Learn more about every area of business that makes you anxious.
One of the root causes of anxiety is a fear of the unknown. In business, you're scared of the unknown all the time. The faster you learn your business, the less anxiety you'll have.
For example, if you don't know how a balance sheet works, or if a profit-loss statement has your stomach in knots, do your homework and master these areas. It will help you greet the day with excitement instead of dread.
When I opened my first business, I was terrified of selling. After a single phone call with a potential customer, my shirt would be drenched in sweat.
I still remember the day I picked up a book on how to be a better salesman. As I stood in line, I noticed the guy behind me was buying the same title. I pointed out the coincidence, and he told me he'd been in sales for 20 years but had never thought to read up on the subject before.
It blew my mind. He was twice as old as I was, and he was just getting around to making a serious study of his livelihood. I silently vowed that from then on, I'd read every good business book that I could get my hands on. I received a rock-solid business education as a result, and my confidence soared.
2. Improve your credit scores.
As a business owner, finances are always on your mind. A friend of mine is facing thousands of dollars in bills for dental work. She assumed she'd be able to set up a decent payment plan. Then she learned her lackluster personal credit scores meant high monthly payments. She joked with me that "high monthly payments" equaled "high anxiety."
It reminded me of my trials as a new business owner. I couldn't get a loan to save my life. Vendors and suppliers demanded payment up front; otherwise, they refused to work with me. I was anxious constantly, and the only way to combat it was to focus like a laser on my personal and business credit scores and make them a thing of beauty. Financial doors began opening as soon as I got serious about it.
So, apply for a business credit card, but keep the balance low and pay it off early. Solid credit scores will go far to tamping down anxiety over your financial health.
3. Focus on the love in your life.
There's no question that love eases anxiety and stress. I have six young daughters. They're a handful. They're also the light of my life, and I've tried hard to never let business concerns come between us.
I made this decision out of principle as a young father. I'd begin at 8 a.m., call it quits at 8 p.m., and then head home and spend a couple of hours with my family before driving back to the office to complete the workday.
I soon learned that my principled decision came with extraordinary rewards. Love can yank you straight out of whatever professional hell you're in and relocate you temporarily in a much nicer place.
It doesn't matter whom you love, so long as you make time to love them. It can be family, friends, a dog, a cat--wherever your heart is, go there. Go there regularly. Allow yourself to prioritize your personal relationships over the burdens of your business, and you'll find that anxiety drops and those burdens are much easier to bear.