As you have probably seen in my other emails and blog posts, I totally believe that you have translatable and leverageable business knowledge and experience. These will help you as you transition to entrepreneurship. You know about expenses, product development, marketing…maybe not a SME but you understand the basics from years of working in corporate America.
But there’s more. Isn’t there always?
If you’ve taken my introductory skills course, you know what I’m talking about.
There’s a set of translatable and leverageable skills that will really help you on your entrepreneurial journey. One of them is managerial. Now here is where my meaning of managerial may be different than what you usually think.
Most would probably think of managing others. For me, it’s not just managing others. And for solopreneurs it’s actually mainly managing yourself rather than managing others. Managing yourself every day, in a multiple of ways.
Thinking about and planning a new business can cause stress. It’s important to manage that stress. And ideally handle it before it even happens.
Stress is something that everyone will experience at some time or another. Some of us deal with a lot of stress – others, not as much. But one thing that we all have in common is that we all have a reaction to stress.
When something happens to cause stress, we’ll react in either positive or negative ways. The way that you deal with stress can affect you more than just at the time that you’re dealing with it.
Your reaction to stress on one day can affect you emotionally the next day, and even the day before if you’re bracing for it. Unfortunately, there is no escaping stress. And there are varying degrees of stress and things that cause it.
There are no groups of folks or any single individual who can avoid stress. It’s natural. And stress doesn’t fit neatly into any one category. There are different levels of stress that will vary, depending on the person who’s dealing with it.
There are also different reasons and different times for stress to occur. You might experience more stress at a certain time of the year than other folks do. However, stress can be bucketed into four basic types.
The types of stress are:
- encounter stress
- time stress
- situational stress
- anticipatory stress
Encounter stress has to do with the relationships in your life. This covers your work relationships and your intimate relationships. It also includes stranger or acquaintance relationships.
This type of stress can be at a low or high level. When you experience encounter stress, it doesn’t mean that you’ve actually been in a situation with someone and that situation has caused you to feel stress.
You can worry about an encounter before the actual encounter even happens. An example of this would be an upcoming meeting with your new landlord for your business. She requested a meeting but you have no idea what it’s about.
So you begin to stress and create scenarios in your mind about what it could be. You can “what if” yourself into imagining that she’s going to increase your rent. From there, your mind can go to how you’re going to pay your expenses and how you’ll extend your operating hours to cover it.
Time stress can occur when you’re feeling overwhelmed with everything that you have to get done. You worry that you don’t have enough time.
This is a probably a big one for you. You are probably still holding down a 9-5 in addition to starting a new business. Even if you have already left you job, there’s a lot of time needed to set up a business.
You “what if” that you’re not going to get everything done and your stress level rises.
An example of this would be targeting to have a launch on a specific date and long days at your 9-5 put you behind. And sometimes folks engage in time stress before there’s even an issue (remember risk is not the same as an issue).
This “what if” worry can make them feel anxious and depressed because they worry how it will affect their future. It this example, the success of a launch. The panic it causes can result in even more stressful situations to occur.
Situational stress is what happens when you’re in a situation that causes immediate stress. An example of this can be getting notified that you put an incorrect price on your sales page, getting laid off from work, or dropping a wedding cake while putting it in the delivery van. In situational stress, it’s the situation that causes the worrying and the emotions that go along with it. This kind of stress can be short or long term.
Anticipatory stress is stress that you get because you’re anticipating something that’s coming your way. This might be having to give a webinar or wanting to ask for a business loan. It can also be about something that’s not even on the horizon.
It’s a fear that the other shoe is going to drop. This type of stress is the kind that has the most “what if” worry involved with it because it’s focused on things that haven’t even happened. And may never happen.
We’ve discussed the types. Let’s briefly discus the levels of stress.
When the things that you worried about do come to pass, they often aren’t anywhere as frightening or terrible as what you thought they’d be.
The levels of stress are
- episodic acute
With a chronic stress level, you would feel this stress on a long term basis. This might be something like being stuck in a job that you hate because it drains you emotionally. Can you relate?
Or on a personal level, it could be something like being in a relationship with someone who isn’t healthy for you to be around.
Chronic stress can often make you feel like you’re stuck. Like life will never change or get better for you. You can end of feeling a great deal of pressure. This can come from a financial setback resulting from being laid off.
Chronic stress can cause folks to view the world differently. Sometime emotions are suppressed in an effort to try not to think about what you’re dealing with.
An acute stress level is what most folks deal with. It’s actually the best level of stress to have. This level of stress comes and goes fairly quickly. While there is pressure and fear sometimes associated with it, it doesn’t last.
An episodic acute stress level means that there’s a constant hamster wheel of stress. It can feel like your life is on fast forward, like you’re part of the rat race and you can’t stop or everything would go haywire.
Folks who end up with this level of stress experience it often because they haven’t learned to say no to demands on their time. They often focus on too many things at once. Their level of stress is easy to see in the way that they can rarely seem to relax and let things go.
Thinking about a problem or wondering what’s going to happen isn’t the same thing as worrying about it. When it crosses the line is when you begin to “what if” too much. You might “what if” about an event, a person or an unknown future.
Plenty of folks will “what if” in their mind. Unfortunately, too many and/or too often“what ifs” can have a negative impact on your thoughts. The negative “what ifs” can cause stress that turn into long term stress if the habit isn’t broken.
There’s nothing wrong with thinking “what if” when you’re trying to brainstorm and come up with a plan of action. But if you do random “what ifs” where you let your mind wonder from one bad possibility to the next, you risk harming your health.
This kind of “what iffing” is a stagnant process that gets you nowhere. It’s like sitting in a rocking chair moving back and forth and expecting to end up on the other side of the room.
And this “what iffing” possibly creates fear and a sense of foreboding about the situation or your future. When you engage in unproductive, negative “what ifs,” you can start to experience a host of various health problems.
As you know, headaches or stomachaches can develop. You might also start to encounter muscle problems. Worrying about stress is bad for your heart health. When you worry about stress, studies have shown that this habit is known to cause high blood pressure, tachycardia and shortness of breath.
Having a regular dose of stress hormones puts additional pressure on your heart because of the high blood pressure that goes hand in hand with raised stress hormones.
Besides affecting your body’s health in various ways, worrying about stress affects your emotional health and your mental health, too. If you worry about stressful situations to the point that it becomes an ongoing habit, you can be at risk of having a mental breakdown.
This usually happens when thinking about and dealing with stress reaches the point where a person simply can’t deal with it any longer. When that happens, she can lose the ability to go about her day as she normally would.
It’s an abnormal response to stress that’s linked with worrying about stressful situations and feeling like there’s no relief for the stress in sight. When worrying about stressful situations reaches the point where someone is having trouble eating and begins to deal with insomnia, that’s the point where something must be done immediately to alleviate the worry.
Folks cope with stress in different ways. These coping mechanisms can be labeled four different ways. The first one is problem analysis. With this type of coping mechanism, folks think about the problem.
This way of thinking usually means the person is using “what if” in a positive way. They’re not simply turning the problem or situation over and over in their minds. They’re looking for how they can define exactly what the problem is.
This is the first step that often motivates folks to find a solution to the problem. When someone engages in problem analysis, they can see the problem objectively. This happens without internalizing it and dwelling on it for too long.
This kind of coping mechanism is highly effective. It doesn’t lead to emotional or physical problems that sometimes happen when dwelling on a stressful situation. The type of folks who use this method are usually able to separate their lives and self-worth from the problem.
They can look at something that needs to be solved and then put it aside without it causing loss of sleep, for instance.
The second type of coping mechanism is plan rehearsal. Someone who copes this way is usually an analytical thinker.
She won’t dwell on negative “what ifs.” Instead, this person will think about what she can do to solve the issue. Someone using this coping mechanism rarely thinks that there isn’t a solution to a situation regardless of what the situation is.
The person who deals with stressful situations this way usually comes up with several solutions and analyzes each one for the best outcome. Folks who use plan rehearsal don’t usually carry a stressful situation over into the next day emotionally.
Stagnant deliberation is one of the poorer methods that folks use when dealing with stress. This is the type of person who will “what if” and think about the problem, but won’t make any progress.
They don’t come up with a solution and so they don’t move forward. With stagnant deliberation your emotional and physical health can be affected to the point that it can make you ill.
The fourth coping mechanism is outcome fantasy. With this way of dealing with stress, folks fantasize or daydream that they won’t have to deal with the problem because it will somehow go away.
This coping mechanism can affect emotional and physical health as well. It’s rare that a person always uses just one type of coping mechanism. You can use a mixture of all of them but the type of folks who use problem analysis and plan rehearsal don’t get stuck on the “what if” or the negative thinking about stressful situations. They might pause there, but they don’t get stuck.
By knowing how to act rather than react to stress, you can handle stress before it becomes an issue. When you encounter a stressful situation, prioritize. Start by asking yourself if the situation is yours to handle.
Too many of us deal with things that we don’t have to deal with. We sometimes take on other folks’ stress. We handle things for friends, a spouse and coworkers that we shouldn’t take on.
It can be tempting to want to help and to fix someone else’s stress, but that’s a way to quickly become overwhelmed and stressed yourself. Don’t take on situations that you already know will have a stressful outcome.
Take action steps to handle stress before it happens by identifying where you feel the pressure start to build. If you know that you’re going to be pressed for time, then figure out what has to be done.
- Use to-do lists and pare it down to only the necessities to get you through the day or week.
- Let go of things that have little long term impact.
- Give yourself extra time to accomplish tasks and learn to say no to things.
- Don’t focus on the things that you can’t control.
Here’s an example regarding focus: if one of your affiliate partners only does minimal promoting and you have an extensive promotion planned, don’t focus on what he didn’t do.
All you’re responsible for is what you’re supposed to do. Let that person suffer the consequences rather than you suffering the stress.
When you know that a situation is coming up that has the potential to turn stressful, take the time to write out a list of possible solutions. That way you’re getting ahead of the curve.
Here’s an example for listing out possibilities. If you’ve heard that your company is going to be laying off folks, instead of worrying about it, write down all of the steps that you’ll take if it does happen to you. Once you do that, let it go. You’re prepared.
Don’t give in to negative “what if” thinking. You don’t want to try to cross bridges before you even come to them. You might find that the bridge never even appears in your life and you don’t want to waste time unnecessarily.
Acknowledge and proactively plan if needed. Manage your stress so it doesn’t manage you.