How To Manage Fear, Anxiety & Overwhelm As A Business Owner
When it comes to truly growing your business, what do you think stops many of us in our tracks? Lack of know how? Confusion around branding? Building a website?
Yes, those significant pieces to the puzzle may play a major part in building your business, but luckily thanks to the internet you can either tackle learning how to do it all yourself or hire a professional. What I've personally learned over the past few years with working with women in different industries is that in many cases, what stops most women from taking their ideas from side-hustle to booming business is often fear, some form of anxiety or overwhelm.
When I first decided to take the leap into entrepreneurship tons of fearful thoughts 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 many years after that moment, I allowed those fears to hold me back. Every time I would decide that 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. And I also allowed it to stop me from building my community and growing relationships with other women in my space. 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.
And I've seen this same issue hold so many of the women that I've worked with back. It's also the main reason why I wrote the Living Over Existing book. If you can't see beyond the fear or the overwhelm, then it will be nearly impossible to grow a successful business.
the goal isn't to be fearless, it's to not allow that fear to completely control our lives.
If you've ever 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. That fear then leads to overwhelm which then turns into anxiety.
While there is no actual cure for fear, there are several ways that you can begin to manage it. The goal is never to be completely fearless, it's to not allow that fear to control our lives. Here are some tips that have helped me to combat fear, anxiety and overwhelm over the past fear years.
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 when you leave.
- 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 decline that all-expense paid trip to paradise because you're afraid of flying.
This is the type of fear that we must learn to avoid because it either A) Involves doing something out of your comfort zone and experiencing something new or B) Stops you from truly living your life to the fullest and digging deeper into your purpose.
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 begin to dwell on it for too long.
- Get to the root of what's causing your fear. Fear begins to feel smaller 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 and growing up without much money. 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. By getting to the root of your fear you'll begin to realize how much you are actually 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.
"fear is only an emotion. it can't hurt you but it will stop you from fulfilling your purpose."
anxiety & overwhelm
If you've experienced fear, then I can guarantee you that anxiety and overwhelm are not too far behind as they tend to be the side effects of fear. Anxiety can make you physically sick and overwhelm will lead to nothing but burn out and more frustration. And if you don't take control early on, you'll be stuck on a never ending cycle.
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. Self-care isn't selfish.
- Prioritize self-care. 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 and getting clear on what self-care looks like for you 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 as it comes.
- Journal your thoughts. Sometimes all you need is to get your thoughts out of your head and out into the universe. 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 from others.
- Ask for help. You can absolutely not run a business, take care of your family, excel in your career or whatever else take priority in your life all by yourself. You don't necessarily have to hire an entire team but you need a tribe. If you have someone who can pitch in and help you don't be afraid to ask if it means that it will release a lot of the overwhelm you're feeling. Also, anxiety is nothing to play around with, if it's getting to the point where its hard to manage it yourself, don't be afraid to seek help from a licensed therapist.
- Strengthen your faith. I write a lot about this in the LOE book but I thought fear, anxiety and overwhelm were going to control my life 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 in Him than in myself. I still feel anxious and fearful but instead of allowing it to stop me, 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.
Remember the goal isn't to be fearless, it's to fear less. 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. For more information on how to begin pushing past the mental barriers that may be holding you back, check out the Living Over Existing book.