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Stressed Employees? Six Ways to Reduce Stress in a Family Business

Monday, February 20, 2017


Stressed woman sitting at deskAs an entrepreneur, you are used to handling high stress levels. It comes with the job. But what about your employees? They deal with stress, too. High levels of stress can cause or compound a variety of physical and emotional health issues. As a result, stressed-out employees tend to take more time off and be less productive when they are in the office. Their stress can also rub off on you, customers and coworkers.
 
You may think it’s not your job, but savvy business owners recognize that helping employees reduce stress is a top priority. If you work with your family, it is more important than ever to create a positive work environment. The good news is there are many positive changes you can make to create a work environment that reduces the stress you and your employees feel.
 
How can you help reduce the stress felt by your employees? Consider these six ideas:
 
  1. Set a good example. Just as children imitate the example of their parents, so too do employees imitate the example of their boss. Demonstrate what work-life balance looks like. Take time for your family and your wellbeing. Avoid negative attitudes. If you establish a culture of balance and reasonableness at the office, your employees will follow suit and stress levels will go down.
  2. Help them find balance. Even if your employees see you taking time for yourself and trying to maintain a healthy work-life balance, they could struggle to achieve the same thing in their own life. So empower them with information about the benefits of staying healthy through exercise and good eating habits, and the importance of taking breaks. You may even want to create company policies that encourage health and wellbeing.
  3. Communicate openly. Be clear and open with everyone involved in the family business. Create an environment where people feel comfortable asking questions and making suggestions. Let each person know what is expected of them and how they can gauge their success. Stress is reduced when people feel heard and informed.
  4. Don’t be afraid of confrontation. In family firms, conflicts often get buried instead of being resolved. However, avoiding conflict can lead to serious problems. Issues can fester, and progress isn’t made. In order to get to the bottom of conflicts and move forward, you must respectfully and firmly confront the issue. Acknowledge that you may or may not be right, but insist that the family talk things out. Keep talking until you find a mutually agreeable solution.
  5. Create a pleasant work environment. Your employees will do their best work when their environment is free of clutter and full of life. Get to work organizing, filing, and putting things away. Encourage laughter, teamwork, and bonding. Bring in some art and plants. Plants purify the air, reduce blood pressure, and promote positive energy.
  6. Express appreciation. It is a good practice to daily look for opportunities to tell each person how much you appreciate them. Employees need to hear commendation. And if they hear you offering commendation, they will be more likely to express appreciation for the help their colleagues give them as well.
 
A positive work environment is vital when it comes to reducing job stress, forging strong family bonds, and increasing productivity. Sometimes it is easier said than done, especially when it comes to working with family. I am here to help you manage the unique challenges of working with your loved ones. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA, please contact my office to schedule an appointment.

Entrepreneurs – How to Conquer Your Own Worst Enemy

Wednesday, February 15, 2017


Shoe squishing the word impossibleWhat do you consider to be your worst enemy as an entrepreneur? The ever-changing market? Fickle customers? Your competition?
 
What about your own negative attitude?
 
You may have heard that attitude is everything, and indeed it is. The mind and body connection is very real and very powerful. Our emotions affect our bodies and dwelling on negative ones can cause many physical health problems.
 
But did you realize that optimism could also greatly impact the health and wellbeing of your business? Optimists tend to be solution-oriented. When they encounter a setback, instead of throwing their hands up, they continue to search for a way around the problem because they are convinced there is a solution. They are also willing to try new things because they recognize that what looks like failure is really a learning experience.
 
While optimism can positively impact your life and business in a very large way, negativity can quickly tear down what you have worked for. Negativity adds to the normal stress felt by entrepreneurs everywhere. It also has a debilitating effect, sometimes preventing people from moving forward and getting past a situation or starting something new.
 
Do you tend to have a pessimistic attitude about life or your business? Or perhaps all the negativity in the media of late is having an impact on your state of mind?
 
Let’s consider three steps that can help you turn your negative thoughts around:
 
Accept your thoughts and feelings. It is important not to dismiss your negative thoughts and worries. Worrying about worrying is not going to help you! Accept your thoughts and feelings and take time to examine them. When you accept the existence of the negative thought and take ownership of it, you take back power and control. The problem no longer feels so large.
 
I often suggest to my clients that they make the effort to practice mindfulness, a simple form of meditation that helps you get control of your thoughts and behaviors. It is the act of focusing all of your attention on the present. Focus on what you are doing or feeling without thinking about why you’re doing it or feeling that way, what you should do next, or what you think you should be doing. Mindfulness requires that you consider your thoughts and feelings without judgment.
 
Challenge your negative thoughts. Once you accept your negative thoughts, you are in the position to challenge them. Ask yourself: Is there real evidence for your frightening thoughts and predictions? Are they founded in unhelpful beliefs? What are the pros and cons of worrying or avoiding the thing I fear?
 
Replace negative thoughts with realistic thoughts. Once you’ve identified the irrational or negative distortions in your anxious thoughts, replace them with new thoughts that are more realistic and positive. It can be helpful to view your negative thoughts and worries as incentives to search for solutions. Especially in business, solutions do not come from worry or fear. They come from putting our attention on what is good and beneficial.
 
Often, negative thoughts are part of a lifelong pattern of thinking. It takes time and practice to break these habits. To help you adjust your thinking to a more positive perspective, I suggest starting each day with a positive thought. That may sound small, but it will help you set the tone for how you will choose to think for the day. It is also beneficial to practice gratitude every day. People who look for reasons to be grateful experience better mental health, emotional wellbeing and resiliency in the face of difficulties.
 
If you still feel overwhelmed by negative thoughts and you live near Portland OR/Vancouver, WA, please contact my office to schedule an appointment. I can help you put your negative thoughts into perspective and cultivate a positive attitude that will help you succeed in life and business.

7 Reasons Why Every Entrepreneur Should Keep a Journal

Monday, January 30, 2017


why entrepreneurs should keep a journalWhat do many highly successful entrepreneurs have in common? Many of them keep a journal. Now you may be thinking, I’m extremely busy juggling a million other things, how can I possibly find time to journal?

Once you see the benefits of journaling you just might be motivated to make the time. It’s a tool that will empower your life in unexpected ways and fuel your professional and personal success.

Here are seven reasons why even the busiest entrepreneur should consider making time to journal:

1. It is well known that visualization is a key to a successful business, or any success for that matter. How does journaling help you visualize? When you write something on paper you clarify and prioritize what you want. This process makes your ideas and visions more concrete, which helps you to achieve them.


2. By putting “pen to paper” so to speak, you engage your creative process. Creativity is a must for entrepreneurs if they want to stay one step ahead of the competition. Journaling can help you create new ideas, especially if you write down any thought that crosses your mind, without editing yourself along the way.

3. Journaling engages your whole brain. When writing, your brain is using the left side for the analytical aspects of writing, which frees up the right side of your brain for creative thinking. Journaling is a process that engages your whole brain, and many times new ideas are the result.

4. Journaling can help you with your self-confidence. When you write about a positive experience your brain re-lives the experience. We often tend to ruminate more on negative experiences. So write about a huge win in your business! Whenever you reread your entry you will be releasing endorphins and dopamine back into your brain giving your self-esteem a boost, maybe when you will need it most.

5. Journaling helps you to track your progress. Entrepreneurs are the lifeblood of their business. You’re constantly learning, adjusting and fine-tuning as you go along. You may not realize how far you’ve come! Being able to write down what you have learned and are learning can be a big motivator as you go through rough spots in your business.

6. Journaling can strengthen your self-discipline. It can be a struggle to sit down every day and write in your journal, and doing so requires self-discipline. But just like a muscle, the more you exercise it, the more you use it, the stronger it becomes. Forming good habits in one area of your life have a tendency to spread to other areas. You will find that your daily practice of writing will domino into the creation of other healthy habits.

7. Writing is a well-known stress reliever. Journaling can help you not only to express your feelings, but also to interpret and learn to work through them. Anyone who has tried to start a business knows that it can be stressful, but journaling could be your secret weapon to managing stress and improving your health.

So keeping a journal has many benefits, some obvious and some not so obvious. Just remember that patience is the key to being successful when keeping a journal, but if you make the effort you are sure to be rewarded. If you would like to learn other strategies that will help you achieve success in your personal and professional life contact my Portland OR/ Vancouver WA office for an appointment.

5 Ways to Ensure That a Mid-Life Change Doesn’t Turn Into a Crisis

Tuesday, January 17, 2017


Businessman jumping from one rock to anotherWe’ve all heard about the stereotypical “mid-life crisis,” a time when people act out their frustrations with life in seemingly crazy ways. Maybe you know someone who dropped a lot of money on a pricey convertible, had an affair, or walked away from a perfectly good job. Or maybe an entrepreneur who took an uncalculated risk or decided to start three new businesses at once. Perhaps this risky behavior secretly sounds somewhat alluring to you?

What is it about the period of mid-life that causes some people to react so “crazy”?

It ultimately boils down to a feeling of panic when you’re lacking a sense of purpose. It usually takes a while to reach this point. Most people start to suffer from lack of energy and creativity. They think about dreams left behind and start to long for something different. They get anxious and unsettled. Feelings of being unfulfilled and unhappy with their home and business life start to creep in.

The crisis or transformation that is occurring during this stage of life involves reevaluating one’s life and mission. Those pursuits or accomplishments that seemed so important in earlier years are no longer challenging or appealing. At this time, people are looking for new ways to make or find meaning in their lives because they want to make the most of the second half of their life.

A mid-life crisis happens when the different aspects of a person’s life interacts to produce conflict, confusion, change, reorganization, and, ultimately, growth. Their own life, family developments, and entrepreneurial pursuits converge and results in change. To deal with these exterior changes, the entrepreneur in their mid-life must change and grow too.

How can you ensure that this life change doesn’t become a dramatic crisis? Here are 5 ways to make this transition gracefully:

1. It is critical to reclaim your sense of purpose. People with a strong sense of purpose live longer, happier, more fulfilling lives than their peers who feel aimless. Find what brings you joy and gives you a reason to live. Take time to learn new things and start new interests to keep your brain active and interested.

2. Stay connected with your partner, family and friends. If business pursuits have kept you away, or life in general has kept you apart, make the effort to reconnect. These are the people who truly love and support you.

3. Cultivate a grateful attitude. Gratitude has a greater effect on your emotions than you realize. Having a grateful attitude is linked to less stress and anxiety, better physical health, and greater satisfaction in life and relationships. Take note of what you are grateful for and express gratitude when you can.

4. Give back to your community. This can be by donating to charity, getting involved in your church, or volunteering with a non-profit. It helps you regain your sense of purpose when you are part of something bigger than yourself.

5. Take time to exercise and stay healthy. Part of staying healthy is having fun. Don’t take yourself, life, even your business, too seriously. View life with some levity, and it will help you avoid that panicked, crisis feeling.

The mid-life is an exciting time, personally and professionally. It is definitely a transition, but remember that transitions can be good. You just have to be aware of the transition, what to expect, and how to cope. If you need some help with this new stage of your life and business, and you live in the Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA area, please contact my office to set up an appointment.

What Happens When There are Two Entrepreneurs in the Family?

Wednesday, January 11, 2017


Couple sitting in bed looking at their laptopsYou run your own business. Years of blood, sweat, and tears have resulted in a successful business enterprise. Yes, it's challenging but you love it. But how about when your partner is an entrepreneur as well – with their own business? It’s a blessing and a curse.
 
It’s a blessing because you have a lot in common. It’s a curse because you have a lot in common!
 
Dual-entrepreneur families are unlike other types of entrepreneurial families. “Solo-entrepreneurs” own and manage a business. They could have a supportive partner who helps out with the business part-time, or offers support in other ways. “Co-preneurs” are partners who both own and manage a joint business venture. “Dual-entrepreneurs” own and manage separate businesses.
 
Why is this distinction important? Being an entrepreneur, and living with an entrepreneur, are both difficult, but for entirely different reasons. When both partners in a relationship run their own separate businesses, they each experience the full effect of both their own entrepreneurship and living with another person’s entrepreneurial spirit.
 
In the case of the solo-entrepreneur and the co-preneurial couple, the family has only one business to maintain. With co-preneurial couples, partners get to work together. The dual-entrepreneurial couple has twice the workload. They work long, hard hours, and they do it alone. 
 
They also face double the anxiety and uncertainty that naturally comes with entrepreneurship. It is not easy to face these uncertainties in your own business, but it can become frightening and discouraging when your partner is facing the same uncertainties with their career.
 
Starting two businesses at the same time is like having twins.
 
To mitigate some of the stress of the dual-entrepreneur lifestyle, I recommend that couples take care to space out the start of their ventures. Timing is always important. Anyone who has had twins can tell you that raising two babies at one time is not simply twice the work; it is so much more than that, physically and emotionally. Most dual-entrepreneurial couples that I have worked with achieve the greatest success in both their businesses and marriages when they do not try to develop two entrepreneurial ventures at the same time.
 
Another challenge to dual-entrepreneurial couples is communicating and working together as a couple, instead of as a business. Entrepreneurs respond to challenges and attack opportunities in ways that don’t always translate well when dealing with personal and family issues. When you come home, treat your spouse as a partner, not an employee or competitor. You are on the same team. Be your partner’s cheerleader, friend, and confidant.
 
It is necessary that partners step away from their businesses sometimes and make time for each other. I suggest that couples take at least 15 minutes a day, maybe in the morning over a cup of coffee, to engage in meaningful conversation without distractions. Distractions include your cell phone and tablet. Talk to your partner, not about business, but about deeper things that help you connect as a couple.
 
Dual-entrepreneurial couples spend so much time apart, working hard at their separate businesses, that it becomes even more necessary to schedule time to reconnect as a couple. Notice the word “schedule.” Successful entrepreneurial couples realize that spontaneous dates and waiting for the “right moment” probably won’t happen. Rather, they plan for love to happen and be sustained.
 
Dual-entrepreneurship can be an ideal way of life for two competitive, driven people. Through genuine love and support, couples can survive and thrive in this high-stress environment. I have worked with many couples as they navigate the path of dual-entrepreneurship. If you need some guidance as you start down this path, or if you are encountering trouble along the way, and you live near Portland OR/Vancouver, WA, please contact my office to schedule an appointment.

Entrepreneurs – Do You Need to Change Your Habits This Year?

Wednesday, December 21, 2016


Arrows pointing opposite directionsWe all have habits we don’t even notice anymore. Maybe you get up each morning and immediately make a cup coffee. When you get to the office, you might take a moment to organize your desk and plan your day. You could take the same path through the grocery store every time you shop.

Our days are made up of a series of habitual behaviors. We develop habits because they are convenient mechanisms for getting things done without having to think too much about them. This leaves us more time and mental energy to devote to other things. Entrepreneurs, who are pulled in so many different directions throughout the day, find mindless habit to be extremely helpful as it allows some things to just flow.

But what happens when your formerly good habits no longer serve your best interest?

When you come to realize that a habit, or even a series of them, is no longer serving its purpose, stop doing it. Once we get something working, an efficient routine, it can be hard to give it up. But the fact is that what works now, won’t work forever.

Our lives are ever changing, as is our environment and our business. Therefore, it is important to assess your habits from time to time. Ask yourself: Are my habits helping me? Or are they just comfortable? Have they gotten to the point of being counterproductive?

I worked with a couple who, for many years, had a great routine going. Don ran the family business and Maria cared for the home and the children. The problem came later, when the children were grown. Maria wanted to go back to work, but she had trouble seeing her husband taking care of some of her former household duties. Don was afraid to relinquish control of their family finances. They struggled because everything had worked so smoothly for so long, they were reluctant to change even though change was needed.

What they needed to do was examine their habits in the light of their values as a family. If traditional family roles were most important to them, then it would make sense for Maria to not work outside the home. However, if their traditional style was simply convenient when the children were young, they should have no problem changing their style and habits to suit a dual-career life.

Successful entrepreneurs are all about managing exterior change, but many forget that they have to change themselves sometimes. While it is not always a comfortable process, change is a part of life and it is vital to our progress and happiness. We all need to experience new things, overcome new challenges that take us outside of our comfort zones, to grow.

As this year draws to a close, it is the perfect time to step back and assess your habits, personally and professionally. Can you identify any of your habits that might be doing more harm than good? I’m sure you can recognize some of your habits as being helpful and moving you forward in the right direction. Are there any new habits you want to develop?

New Year’s Resolutions often get a bad rap for not lasting past January. It doesn’t have to be that way. Instead, try examining your priorities and resolve to establish habits and routines that maximize your values and beliefs. These are changes and habits that will last…until they need to change again!

Have your habits and routines stopped bringing you joy? If there is something about your life that’s not working, don’t settle for it! If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment. I will help you get to the root of the problem and find a solution.

Entrepreneurs – Reduce Stress by Caring for Your Mind, Body and Spirit

Wednesday, November 30, 2016


Man standing on cliff with arms outstretchedWhile entrepreneurs are good at accomplishing goals, they're usually not very good at establishing healthy habits. You probably work tirelessly building your business, working long hours while simultaneously caring for your family. It’s no wonder that self-care quickly takes a backseat to more immediate priorities. With what result? A lot of built-up stress with no relief in sight.

What can you do to minimize the amount of stress in your busy entrepreneurial life? Stress comes when the different aspects of your life fall out of alignment. In order to keep all parts of your life in healthy productive alignment, you must attend to the whole person. That means caring for your mind, body and spirit.

Care for your mind. Take time to refocus and recharge. One way to do this is through the practice of mindfulness, a simple form of meditation that helps you get control of your thoughts and behaviors. It is the act of focusing all of your attention on the present. Focus on what you are doing or feeling without thinking about why you’re doing it or feeling that way, what you should do next, or what you think you should be doing. Mindfulness requires that you objectively consider your thoughts and feelings, a process that helps you be truly present and live in the moment.

The benefits of practicing mindfulness extend beyond the initial session of meditation. People who practice mindfulness experience greater focus and decreased stress, even beyond the meditation session. It keeps you from jumping from one thought to the next or dwelling on negative thoughts. Even just a few minutes can quiet your mind and reduce stress.

Care for your body. Physical needs are some of the first things left behind when entrepreneurs really get busy. But caring for your body is necessary for staying healthy and keeping your stress levels in check. Get some sleep. This is easier said than done, but it is important. Take time to prepare and eat nourishing foods. The vitamins and minerals in healthy foods keep your body working properly, enabling you to power through the daily demands of entrepreneurial life.

Also, move your body more. Exercise reduces stress, increases your energy levels, and helps you sleep better. Even small amounts of exercise can make a big difference. The mind and body are in state of constant communication. What the mind thinks and experiences is sent from the brain to the rest of the body. This is why you can often physically feel the effects of stress. The good news is that our bodies are also sending messages to the brain so exercise can help calm the mind.

Care for your spirit. The spirit is that part of each human that makes us a distinctive personality. It is the part of a person that defines us and yet connects us to others. Keeping our spirit healthy is essential to the process of achieving healthy balance in life. Some feed their spirit through belief in God and the practice of religion. Others maintain a spiritual connection in some other way. Find your sense of self that extends beyond the boundaries of this life and commit to it.

Stress is a part of life, especially for entrepreneurs. However, it can be managed by taking care of your entire being. When you balance your mind, body, and spirit, you will be able to have a more meaningful, and less stressful, life to share with the ones you love. If you’d like to achieve balance again and live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA, please contact my office and schedule an appointment.

Entrepreneurial Couples – Disconnect to Reconnect

Monday, October 24, 2016


Couple laying in bed looking at phones instead of talking to each otherMany entrepreneurial couples I work with decided to pursue this lifestyle because they crave flexibility, independence, and the ability to spend more time with their family. However, what often ends up happening is they get sucked into working every waking minute to make it all happen. The result? They experience extra stress and their marriage suffers.

What can help? Taking time to unplug and reconnect.

Entrepreneurs do not have the luxury of “leaving work at work.” The entrepreneurial life is demanding and requires time and attention outside of 9 to 5. And since most of your work is conducted through your smartphone, unplugging seems impractical, perhaps even impossible. Making time for friendship, romance, and family is difficult, but if you continue to ignore the most important people in your life you might wake up one day and discover they’ve moved on without you.

So how do you make time to reconnect? Put down your phone, tablet, or laptop! It really is that simple. Put it down, put it away, turn it off. Start small, taking just a few minutes each day to unplug, unwind, and refocus. As a couple take 15 minutes to engage in meaningful conversation without the distraction of devices. Talk to your significant other, not about business, but about your feelings, hopes, and problems.

Schedule larger blocks of “unplugged” time, too. Notice the word “schedule.” Successful entrepreneurial couples realize that spontaneous dates and waiting for the “right moment” to reconnect probably won’t happen. Rather, they have to plan for love to happen and be sustained. This is where scheduling comes in. Schedule a date night once a week. Take a long weekend or a mini-vacation, something that pulls you away from the demands of entrepreneurial life.

When you spend this time together, do your best to put away your devices. Sitting in the same room together or eating at the same table is not the same as connecting. To connect to each other, you must disconnect from technology for a while.

Of course, as business owners you can’t always completely disconnect from the outside world. On vacation, for instance, you may have to take time to reply to some emails, make a call, check in with your business. Give yourself a time limit. Once your time is up, put everything away and get back to that relaxation and reconnecting you went away to do!

Spending blocks of time disconnected from devices provides a great opportunity to examine the way you interact with technology. Are you spending so much time on your devices because they are helping you be efficient and creative? Or has your technology usage become a compulsive behavior? As you spend more time away from your devices, you will get a clearer picture of when they are truly helpful and when they are simply distractions.

You work diligently to ensure that your business runs smoothly, receives adequate attention, and continues to grow. Do this with your relationships too. Take time out from the rigors of business-ownership and the constant pull of technology to remember why you’re working so hard in the first place – to share your success with the ones you love.

If you need help reconnecting and making love your top priority, and you live in the Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA area, please contact my office to set up an appointment. If you live out of the area, I can still help! Please consider Video Education sessions that are available to help you as an entrepreneurial couple.

Are You a Driven Person? Why You Need to Understand What’s Driving Your Desire

Monday, October 03, 2016


Desire – the tingling anticipation of getting something you want – can be a powerful motivating force. What’s interesting is it’s often the desire to have something, rather than securing the item that brings excitement and a measure of happiness.

The danger is you can become trapped in a frustrating, never-ending cycle of satisfying desires. The excitement over procuring a desired item, position, or status can quickly be replaced by a feeling of emptiness, and an unrelenting need to acquire something else. Successful entrepreneurs are usually very driven so they need to understand their desires to avoid becoming a victim of their own ambition.

I worked with an entrepreneurial couple we'll call Barb and Kevin. As their wealth increased, they both took on the mindset that making money meant they had to spend it. And spend money they did! However, as they fulfilled one desire, another rose up to take its place. They constantly needed to make more money to fund their increasing desires. They eventually lost track of the roots of their marriage. They also lost track of what was exciting and appealing about their careers. Their careers simply became a way to feed their ever-increasing desires.

Of course there is nothing wrong with reasonably spending money you have worked hard to earn. But do so with purpose. Before you make a purchase of a luxury good, or even something on clearance at a big box store, ask yourself “Why?” Are you buying the item as a reward for your hard work, because it is a necessity, or because you just happen to like it? Whatever your reason for making the purchase, be clear and honest with yourself about it.

In life, if money matters take precedence over everything else, there are likely to be unhealthy repercussions. Instead of planning for wealth, examining their beliefs about money, and working out a life plan together, Barb and Kevin just spent their money. And it nearly destroyed their marriage. It also negatively affected their children. Their four children were given everything, had every advantage, and yet suffered because of the priority their parents placed on the acquisition of material things.

We all want a lot of things, but there is a distinct difference between wanting something and desiring something. For example, you may want to make more money. But what do you really desire? If your reason behind wanting to make more money is that you will then have more time, security, or freedom, then your true desire is not money – it is the time, security, and freedom that you hope money will help you obtain. You want more money, but you desire something much greater.

Understanding your core values and desires is vital to your success. Realize that what you think you want may not be what you truly desire. Once you clearly understand your real desires, you can take steps to avoid falling into the trap of always wanting more. The process of satisfying wants is what creates more want. In contrast, a real desire is not fleeting; it is concrete, able to be satisfied and enjoyed.

It is important, especially for entrepreneurial couples, to take the time to assess your values about money. I encourage you to take a look at my book Entrepreneurial Couples - Making it Work at Work and at Home and complete the self-assessment exercises. Once you have your values about money clear in mind, you will be in a much better position to satisfy your true desires.

The Psychological Toll of Entrepreneurship

Monday, September 19, 2016


When you think of a successful entrepreneur that you admire, what traits come to mind? Creative, strategic or tenacious? How about depressed or anxious? 

Successful entrepreneurs are often viewed as heroes. We marvel at the speed at which they grow their businesses. They push themselves beyond physical and emotional limits. However, this can be a problem, because before they make it big, many experience periods of deep anxiety and despair.
This issue is thoroughly examined in an article by Inc. Magazine. If you are thinking of starting a business or are currently a business owner, I encourage you to read the article. It revealed the hidden, internal struggles of entrepreneurs because of something called “impression management” or the idea of “fake it till you make it.” Business leaders avoid showing any sort of vulnerability. That is, until recently. More and more entrepreneurs have begun speaking out about their feelings and experiences in order to combat the stigma surrounding depression and anxiety.

Why is it that some of the most creative, energetic, driven people suffer with these debilitating issues? The article pointed out something I’ve observed for years as a psychologist, the very qualities that make someone a successful entrepreneur can also make them vulnerable to mood swings and high emotional states. Those states can include depression, anxiety, feelings of worthlessness, and lack of motivation. Also, because entrepreneurs are driven to succeed, it is easy for them to push through tough times without pausing to evaluate if their negative feelings are part of a bigger issue that needs attention.

Additionally, the uncertainty of running a business can lead to trouble. Startups face a high risk of failure. Entrepreneurs also must wear many hats, playing different roles within the company. Often they deal with setbacks as they try to compete in an increasingly crowded market. The demands of owning a business can lead some entrepreneurs to neglect their physical health as well. Not exercising, eating too much or too little, and not getting enough sleep are common issues.

Even though entrepreneurship can be a stressful, wild ride, you can maintain a healthy balance! Here’s what I recommend to my entrepreneurial clients – stop and honestly evaluate how you are feeling. Do you sense an imbalance? Then it is time to take a timeout. Take time for a hobby, your friends, and especially your family. Perhaps take a vacation, or even just a long weekend. Whatever you need to do, do it immediately. Business success is wonderful, but not at the expense of your mental and physical health.

Stress (and the accompanying negative symptoms) comes when you allow any part of your life to become out of alignment. If left unchecked, other areas of your life are affected, producing more stress. In order to keep all parts of your life in healthy productive alignment, you must attend to, and take care of, the whole person. That means caring for your mind, body, and spirit.

Do not let your work define who you are. It is something you do, not your identity. It is important to feel successful in areas outside of work. Don't let a business failure define you either. Life is a constant process of trial and error. Don’t exaggerate and become overwhelmed by a “failure.” Instead of focusing on what’s wrong in your life, pay attention to what is good.

If you are feeling overwhelmed, anxious or depressed as you navigate the complexities of entrepreneurship, and you live in the Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA area, please contact my office to set up an appointment.


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