Entrepreneurial depression is something that gets a stranglehold on nearly every business owner. It can come on for unknown reasons and last for a few hours, a few days or sometimes weeks. It can happen when your business is doing well or when it is struggling but for the most part comes on when you are struggling. Sometimes it can be so bad that you don’t want to get out of bed in the morning especially if your business is struggling. There is good news if this is you, you can overcome entrepreneurial depression by first understanding what triggered it, what to do about it and how to keep it from coming back, or at least to shorten the amount of time it makes you feel bad when it does.
Entrepreneurial depression is not the same as clinical depression, although the symptoms are similar. I am not a psychologist so if you suffer from clinical depression seek help. I have a daughter who her entire life wanted to be a veterinarian. Frankly it’s all she talked about. However as a teen she had some tough times like most teens do. We helped her to seek the help of a professional and it helped a lot. Ever since then she has said “that’s what I want to do, I want to help people.” She is studying to become a psychiatrist with a minor in law. So if you need help, get help.
Like I said earlier, entrepreneurial depression is not the same as clinical depression. Entrepreneurial depression has specific triggers and for most business owners the triggers are the same. I certainly don’t know all of your triggers, if you even have them, but I thought I would show you what I believe is the biggest trigger for me what I do to feel better.
Entrepreneurs are a rare breed. If you are one, you recognize it because you always feel deep down inside you that you were born to be great. Not better than anyone, just great. You know that you were formed from a different mold and that if you could just find your path you will one day be great. I do believe this is a trait put in you by your creator.
The issue at hand is that when you feel that you were born for greatness you have times where you don’t feel great. There are so many obstacles surrounding you that it seems you will never hit your goal. So you fall into a state of depression. This state trigger is not so easy to recognize when you are new in business because you may not know exactly what is causing it because there is so much excitement surrounding your new venture. But where there is excitement there is a recognition that things aren’t going perfectly. Your sales aren’t where you want them to be, the work is harder than you thought and at times the customers don’t want to pay for all the extra things they want with their purchase. Or maybe there haven’t been any customers at all.
Dan Sullivan, founder of Strategic Coach, refers to this state as falling into The Gap. The gap is no man’s land for an entrepreneur, it is the point at which you take your eye off of where you are going and focus on the obstacles preventing you from getting there and if you keep your focus on the obstacles you will never get there. In order to get out of the gap you have to consciously notice the state you are in and then look back. Notice how far you have come. This is actually an eye opening way to change your state because it takes your focus off of the goal and the obstacles and simply makes you look at what you have done to this point.
So many coaches say you must always focus on the goal, don’t take your eye off the prize but at times when things are not going as planned it can get downright depressing because we tend to set big goals. When the state sets in look back.
Two nights ago I fell into the state of depression late in my day. I had some important things I wanted to accomplish for the day but my business took over. If you have been in business for any period of time you know what I mean. The e-mails, phone calls and text messages decided to dictate to me what I was and what I was not going to do and by the end of the day I was depressed. I don’t mean a little depressed, I mean a full-fledged all out pity party attended by a party of one, me. It came on while I was driving down the road and I no longer wanted to listen to the podcast that I was playing. It was “too positive” at the moment so I turned it off and listened to the radio. Then I got into a traffic jam, which elevated my state by about 5 times. By the time I got back to the office I could barely say high to my wife or my dog. Yes, I bring my black lab Titus to work with me every day.
I went upstairs to my office and for about 30 minutes I was just going through the motions but I knew I had to quickly find a cure. I didn’t have the time or desire to stay in the state. Here’s what I did and I can tell you I was 100% feeling better by the time I sat down for dinner an hour later.
- Recognized the trigger: I was in the state because I had things that I absolutely wanted to get done that day but I allowed circumstances to dictate what I was going to do instead of controlling my circumstance. I knew I couldn’t fix the time lost but I knew I could decide to control them tomorrow.
- I looked at how far I’ve come: I stopped looking at all of the things I didn’t get done that day but all of the things I did get done. This was the breath of fresh air I needed because I have a habit of starting my day around 5:30 am. I don’t open e-mail I just start my day doing the activities that are in my genius zone. Everyone has one but I’m not going to go into it here. I was able to see I got a lot accomplished but I had set the bar pretty high that day and I had to ease up a little on myself.
- I prayed: Faith is one of the most powerful emotions known to man. Faith has cured more diseases, fixed more broken marriages and kept more struggling entrepreneurs from jumping off a cliff, than any other thing. However if you are an unbeliever you may consider meditation or internal reflection where you communicate with your subconscious mind.
- Not everything in life is an absolute: My issue was that I set out to finish everything on my list and I was absolutely sure I would. I was under the impression that I was 100% in control, I wasn’t. Life happens. Press on.
- Realize tomorrow is another day: A person who gets knocked down is not a failure unless they refuse to get up. When life knocks you down recognize it for what it is and get back up to fight again.
- Count your blessings: Be thankful for what you have. In your mind start being thankful for everything you can think of that is a blessing in your life. It’s amazing how many there are.
Entrepreneurship is not for the weak, but we are all weak at times. You are human and part of that means there are struggles, embrace them. It’s pressure that turns coals into diamonds.
To your lifelong prosperity,
P.S. Do you need help in your business? I can help. Schedule a call and let’s talk about it. Click here.