How To Manage Fear, Anxiety & Overwhelm As An Entrepreneur
What do you think stops most creatives from starting their business or just doing something that they love? Lack of know how? Branding? Building a website? Yes those aspects may play a major part when it comes time for them to take action but those things can easily be learned. In most cases, what stops most creatives before they even get started is fear. When I first got the idea to start my own business a ton of fears immediately began flowing into my mind.
What if I fail?
What if people think Im a fraud?
What if I go broke trying to make this happen?
What if I can't handle it?
And for so long I allowed that fear to stop me from simply starting. Every time I decided I was going to take a step forward I allowed fear to keep me stagnant. I missed out on new opportunities and chances to increase my income. I also allowed it to stop me from really becoming a part of my community and connecting with other creatives. It was crippling and I continued to allow fear to control me until the day I decided that if I really wanted to see my vision happen, I had to push past fear and start taking a leap of faith.
the goal isn't to be fearless, it's to not allow that fear to completely control our lives.
If you've felt any type of fear or feel as if fear is constantly holding you back, then trust me you're not alone. Till this day, even after years of being a business owner fear still manages to rear its ugly head, which then leads to anxiety and overwhelm. The constant battle with fear is also something I see a lot of my coaching clients & readers struggle with as well. They know what needs to be done but all too often fear stops them from actually implementing it. The fear of getting it wrong. The fear of being talked about. And even the fear that if they get it right they wont be able to handle the success. All crippling thoughts that are set up to stop you from pursuing what you feel called to do.
Today I wanted to share with you what has helped me to combat fear, anxiety and overwhelm over the past few years. I've also created a simple Fear Guide to help you to sort through some of your biggest fears. Now don't think that Im an expert at being fearless. Like I mentioned before I still feel fear and often have to coach myself through it, but I have learned that fear can only control you if you allow it to. I also don't want you to make some of the same mistakes that I once made. I don't regret anything but I do wish I would have gained control over it sooner than later.
"Fear is only an emotion. It can't hurt you but it will stop you from fulfilling your purpose."
The first thing you should know about fear is that there are two different types:
- The fear that protects you
- The fear that holds you back
The fear that protects you looks a little something like this:
- You double check to make sure you pulled the iron out of the plug out of fear that you'll burn down your house
- You walk away from a growling dog in fear that it will bite you.
This type of fear is necessary as it makes sure that we don't cause any harm to ourselves or others. This is the good kind of fear that you should listen to.
The fear that holds you back looks like this:
- It stops you from starting your business because of the possibility that you MIGHT fail.
- You pass on that all expense paid trip to paradise because you're afraid of airplanes.
This is of course the bad type of fear. Why? Because typically it stops you from either A) Doing something out of your comfort zone (which is a good thing!) or B) Stops you from doing something you would love to do but don't because you fear the unknown. This is the type of fear we want to ignore.
So how do you begin to push past these negative fears?
- Ask yourself what's the worst that could happen. Let's say you do get up the nerve to launch that new product you've been wanting to do for ages. The worst that could probably happen is your launch fails. But it wouldn't be the end of the world. You are actually in a great position to re-evaluate what worked and what didn't so that you can re-launch it again later. You have to look at it with a "glass have full" mentality.
- Know that fear is only an emotion. Most fear is mental, meaning we allow our minds to make the situation seem a lot bigger and more complex than it really is. Keep in mind that just like anger and happiness, fear is only an emotion and it will pass eventually. The problem starts when we dwell on it for too long.
- Get to the root of what's causing your fear. Fear begins to feel like a smaller beast when you break it down and figure out where it actually stems from. For me, I have always had a fear of money. And because of it, I feel guilty spending it even on things that I need. I realized that that fear stems from my childhood BUT even though it still haunts me, I know that I can make better financial decisions as an adult (without the constant guilt) to avoid not having the money that I need. Get to the root of your fear and realize that you're in control.
- Describe how you will feel if you push past that fear. Imagine if the fears you currently have didn't exist. How would you feel? Relieved? Excited? Those are the emotions we should be focusing on, not fear.
anxiety & overwhelm
If you're feeling fear, then I can guarantee you that its cousins anxiety and overwhelm are not too far behind. Anxiety can literally make you sick (trust me I know) and overwhelm will lead to nothing but burn out. And it will be a never ending cycle if you don't cut it off at the source.
So how do you begin managing both anxiety and overwhelm?
- Let go of guilt. If you don't get something done, instead of stressing over it, let go of that guilt and tackle it another day. We become business owners to make our own rules not to be ruled by a to-do list. If you have to say no to some one, know that it was in your best interest and let go of the guilt that comes along with it. You should never feel guilty for putting your best interest first.
- Prioritize self-care. I mentioned this in a previous post but you can not possibly expect to produce your best work if you're not allowing yourself to rest. I notice that I feel the most anxious and overwhelmed when I have been pulling all nighters and working non-stop. Prioritizing rest or simple self-care helps your mind to chill out and for you to physically prepare yourself for another day.
- Focus on the present instead of what's next. The fear of the unknown is typically what causes the most anxiety. Not knowing what tomorrow will bring or obsessing over where you're going to be 5 years from now. Why do we focus so much on what we have absolutely no control over when we can focus on and be present in the current moment? Relax, take a breath and tackle life day by day.
- Journal. Sometimes all you need is to get your thoughts out of your own head and on to paper. Whenever i'm feeling overwhelmed I find that journaling works as a self therapy session. I can freely get out all of my worries and concerns without the fear of judgement.
- Ask for help. This is one that I am still struggling with myself but you absolutely can not do it all on your own. You don't necessarily have to hire an entire team but if you have someone who can pitch in and help you with some of your simpler tasks that can help rid you of a lot of the overwhelm you may be feeling. Also, severe cases of anxiety are nothing to play around with, if need be do not be afraid to seek medical help.
- Strengthen your faith. I thought fear, anxiety and overwhelm were going to control my life for forever until I realized that my faith in God was stronger than any emotion. Once I began digging into his word I began putting more faith into him than in myself. I still feel anxious and fearful often but instead of allowing it to stop me or just spiral into my feelings, I immediately pray or look up a scripture that will guide me through it. No matter what your beliefs are you have to have faith in something other than yourself.
Like I mentioned before, Im not asking you to be fearless. Thats nearly impossible. Im asking you to make the decision today that you will no longer allow fear, anxiety or overwhelm to control your life or continue to hold you back from pursuing your purpose.