When life hits a hard spot, it is really easy to operate in a funk that is the farthest from who you want to be. Stress has a weird way of bringing out the ugly. The worst part is… stress can come from every direction of life: work, home, health, and relationships. If you’ve got stress coming from those areas, then go grab yourself a large glass of water and a notebook. We are going to dig in and un-stress your life.
We’ve already established in previous blog posts that running or launching a business is hard. The amount of responsibility and workload can be overwhelming enough, but when the business is hurting for cash or suffering from a bad decision… it is easy to feel overwhelmed. Add some personal struggles to a stressful work week and attitudes get messy.
This may be surprising to you, but stress (in short amounts) is good for you. Whaaaaaat?! Yeah, you think I’m crazy! Don’t hit the back button just yet! Let me tell you why.
Let’s start with defining stress.
STRESS (n): a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances. “he’s obviously under a lot of stress“
Stress is an obvious sign that you’re facing a problem… AND… problems are meant to be solved. All you have to do is identify the cause of the problem and then make an action plan to resolve it. Easy, right?
See… I firmly believe that problems and conflicts are really just opportunities for you to grow. If you didn’t have stressful situations, then you wouldn’t do anything about them. Consider it a part of your growing pains… you need stress in order to succeed.
Tell me… what do you have going on right now that is stressful?
In order to reduce your stress, you must first identify it. What areas of your life or business are stressful? Be specific. Are you overwhelmed and anxious about money? Getting all of the things done in your day? How about balancing family and work? Whatever you are stressed about right now… I want you to write it down. Go ahead! Grab your pen… I’ll wait.
… take your time …
Did you write it down? GOOD! Identifying your stress is the first and most important part of this stress-reducing process. You are doing so great, friend! Now, let’s brainstorm WHY that stress is there and HOW we can get fix it.
Why are you stressed about _(your first answer here)_? Because __________________.
Why are you stressed about __money__? Because you need money to live
Why are you stressed about __balance__? Because you want to have healthy relationships
Why are you stressed about __overwhelming task list__? Because you want to succeed
Why are you stressed about __employees__? Because they represent your brand
It is obvious that stress comes from a good place. You need cash flow to operate, profit to live, balance to enjoy life, task lists to succeed, and employees to grow your business. The stress that comes with those elements is a good thing, but the ultimate goal is to reduce the stress by creating an efficient and profitable system.
My 8-5 job consist of running the business operations of a roofing company. I am NOT kidding you when I say that there are weeks that I want to pull out my hair and scream to the top of my lungs. I always attribute the tough weeks to growing pains, but when we have repeat pains… I get plum mad (repeat pains mean that the current plan is not working!). About this same time last month, my stress levels were through the roof (HAHA! Pun intended!). We recently made some major changes to our internal process that affected every part of my job. Granted, the change in process will eventually reduce my stress… but working out the kinks in a new process is always time consuming and aggravating. It is one of those NECESSARY evils I suppose.
Solve the problem. Many issues, both personal and business, can’t be solved overnight. However, you can make an action plan within a matter of minutes. Sure, that plan may be adjusted down the road… but an action plan is a step in the right direction for reducing stress.
… then create an action plan for getting your money under control. Find ways to reduce overhead and also bring in additional revenue. How can you increase sales? What product/service have you lost focus on that can bring you some more money? Your options may feel limited, but try to get creative. Challenge yourself to cut at least one expense and two additional revenue streams in your business.
…then evaluate your list. Is there something unnecessary that you can remove from it? Is there something you can delegate? Would a virtual assistant or intern be able to help you with something? God and your family come before your work, but you still need your work to provide. That means you must create healthy boundaries for yourself and your task list. Don’t put more on your task list than you can actually handle. Doing so will only create more stress.
… and that is stressing you out, then most likely you need to work on your time management. You probably already know this, but poor time management only causes more stress. Make an action plan for your day by setting boundaries and establishing a firm schedule. If you want to start work at 9:00 a.m. and finish by 3:00 p.m. then you need to list practical tasks that you can get done in that amount of time. Learn when to say “NO!” to unnecessary meetings, phone calls, emails, chats, and all those things that distract you from what really needs to be done. Create a clear boundary with your time so that vendors/customers/employees know when you are available for non-emergency needs. The minute you show your spouse and children that they are important… that is when you’ll feel some relief.
In my experience, an action plan is the only thing that truly relieves stress. A plan will bring clarity to your mind… giving you something to focus on as you proceed with the everyday grind/hustle. A plan also provides hope for a brighter future. In my mind… goals are only dreams if they have no plan.[Tweet “Goals are only dreams if they have no plan.”]
Stress is a result of current circumstances. Sometimes we create the stress and other times the people around us create our stress. Our bodies have a natural reaction to stressful situations… we usually get a weird energy, start feeling a little anxious in our thinking, and we feel the need to do something. Stress will make you do crazy things like yell at nice people and cry at traffic jams (Okay those may just be me, but you’ve got something like that too… right?). Point: When we are stressed, our actions feel a little uncontrollable and we start operating out of fear and frustration rather than with a sound mind.
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7
Here is the thing though my friend… It is what you do and how you handle that stress that ultimately determines if the stress will go away. The biggest problem I see people doing in their responses to stress is that they want to flee rather than take a healthy action. Some folks bury their stress into unnecessary work and others start self-medicating; both of which are a way to avoid dealing with it. When we flee or avoid our stress… we start to lose sight of who God created us to be. Today, YOU are learning how I take healthy actions to reduce stress.