So it’s a pretty safe bet that just about everybody has made it to this first line – except perhaps those who are too stressed to be reading blogs right now.
Anyone who decides to run a small business yet believes it’ll be without stress is either very naïve indeed, or possibly just plain delusional. Business creates stress. Establishing a small business can be stressful. Growing a small business, maintaining it and staffing it is stressful. And perhaps the greatest irony of all is that success itself can be stressful! Ask anyone whose business has recently really taken off. I bet they’re not sitting back with their feet up relaxing. They’re very likely pedaling like mad trying to keep up, frantically working at implementing changes to help cope with demand and growth.
Too many of us build our business dreams around a nonsensical model that sees us working like mad until we’re successful, at which time we supposedly relax, take extended holidays and perhaps just check in on how things are going at the office now and then. Yeah, right!
Every stage of small business has the potential to be stressful. (If you’d like to supersize your stress levels, by all means start a business partnership – you can read about it HERE) But the good news is that while stress is a part of small business, it doesn’t have to be something that you deal with day in and day out. That sort of thing just leads to high blood pressure, stomach ulcers and early burnout. I am a firm believer in the thought that small business should actually be fun. And without trying to come over as some sort of Zen master of calm, there are some straightforward methods you can put in to practice – starting right now – to help make a difference. No need to cross your legs and meditate, just read on…
Freezing never helped anyone
When things get on top of you it’s easy to lose perspective, start feeling helpless, and fool yourself into believing that nothing you can do will make things better. It’s the equivalent of freezing when you should be running – you might not outrun what’s chasing you, but if you stand still you’re going to cop it for sure! We’ve all ‘frozen’ from time to time in our business lives – throwing up our hands and deciding to just do nothing. The cure for the helpless feeling is grabbing the bull by the horns and taking big action. One step at a time, start fixing things. The moment you start making a difference that hopeless feeling will begin to recede and you’ll start to win back your confidence. Even if you’re not sure that what you’re doing will work, do it. Take not just one but several steps and chances are you’ll see change start to happen quickly. The payoff is that not only will you eventually get yourself out of a jam, you’ll have proved for yourself that taking decisive action is a great step towards relieving stress.
Clarity cures calamity
When someone ‘can’t see the woods for the trees’ they simply lack objectivity. Loss of objectivity and perspective causes stress. When you’re overwhelmed by how much is on your plate, it’s time to get your plate in order! Put together a very clear and precise to-do list and two things usually happen; firstly, you discover that what you face isn’t as daunting as you may have thought. Secondly, it’s now broken into individual tasks that you can tackle one at a time. Now breathe…and rip into it!
It’s (almost) all good
Another note on perspective. Unless your life is like a country music song – your partner’s left you, your dog died, you lost your job and the landlord kicked you out – chances are that most aspects of your life are actually going okay, and there’s just one key thing that’s stressing you out. Take a moment to consider this and you might find that adjusting your perspective can help you to breathe and take the next step toward addressing the one area of your life that’s causing you the most grief.
It’s not all about you
This is an unusual one, but something worth considering. Often, our own stress grows from our focusing on ‘our own little world’ and the problems we see in it. It’s like peering through a microscope – the little creatures look much bigger than they really are, and meanwhile we see nothing else around us. Recent studies have shown that reaching out and helping other people can lead to real contentment in the individual who offers the help. When did you last lend a hand to someone less fortunate than yourself? Give it a go and you might find you’re a better person for it – and more relaxed, too.
A place for everything…
Look around you – your car, your office, your desk. Do you see perfect order or a complete pigsty? Behavioural psychologists believe that an untidy environment reflects a chaotic state of mind, and chaos in turn makes it difficult to relax – the human mind craves order and structure. Humour me – if your desk is a mess, spend ten minutes tidying it up. Bet you feel better once it’s all in order. And if nothing else, at least you’ll make the cleaner smile.
Stress will always be a part of business, that’s just how it is. But if you retain some objectivity instead of letting it get on top of you, you can very often control just how much stress you suffer. Remember to regularly step back, make a list and compare the reality of what you’re facing to the monster your imagination may have let it become. With practice, you’ll get better and better at kicking the crap out of the stress monster - and enjoying your business more.
Wishing you the best for your week in business,