The ultimate question has been asked. Anxiety is paralyzing and it can truly feel like an impossible hurdle in daily interactions, so add business in and it’s just ridiculous. So, what can we do about it?
A couple of things. Well, I'll tell you three, actually.
Anxiety has many unfortunate factors to it and anxiety can hold you back, but you decide whether to let it. If your anxiety is telling you that you can’t go to that networking event for your business, tell it “NOPE! I’m going anyway.” Be that rebellious teenager to your anxiety, don’t let it boss you around. It sounds crazy, especially when you let your mind go down that rabbit hole of negativity about what anxiety does to you when you don’t let it control your every move. Anxiety can be very vindictive. You go to that networking event, despite anxiety telling you not to, and you find yourself in a panic attack, hands sweating and face turning red. Here’s my advice: fake it until you make it.
It sounds too simplistic, right? That’s because it is. You really only have two options: live your life in a cave to quell your anxious thoughts or get out there an defeat your internal demons. Once you start telling your anxiety “No” and turning the negative aspects into powers to use to your advantage, you’ll start to learn how to manage it. You might be surprised to hear that anxiety does have certain positive features. Hear me out.
Your anxiety can translate to a hyper-awareness. You can certainly use this in the business world. To make connections with people, you need to understand them, even their most subtle social queues. Anxiety gives you a superpower, being able to read people. This can really help you understand the people you interact with on a more personal level. You'll be able to tell if you're pushing your customer too hard, you can feel how uncomfortable they are. Great! Listen to your intuition, use it to communicate effectively with your customers and employees.
But wait! There’s more! With anxiety, you are well versed in the realm of “what ifs”. Good for you! That means you’re always prepared. A little too prepared. Sometimes you confuse anxious thoughts with precognition. You are not a psychic, calm down. Don't get your own booth at the renaissance faire just yet.
You can use these thoughts, in a healthy dose, to keep one step ahead of the obstacles you face as an entrepreneur or just generally in your career. That does not mean you have to believe every anxious thought you have. Don’t be that gullible. “We aren’t going to meet our numbers!” or “We are going to go under in less than a year!” That's all just noise. But, it’s good to stay focused. Set healthy goals that are a tiny bit above your “best-case-scenario”. You already know what the worst case is, so just prepare lifeboats in case of a sinking, don’t jump the ship.
Ok, one more to bring it home.
Having anxiety means you often use your energy worrying. Well, now think about that: you do have a lot of energy. Instead of using your energy for being worried, try to harness that energy on what is making your anxious. Is it that you don’t feel prepared to take that next step for your business? Don’t feel like you have enough time in the day to get what you need done? Is your partner not holding up enough weight?
Start to address those problems in a way that offer solutions—not more negativity. Feel more prepared for your business advancement by using more time for preparation and relaxation. Get more feedback from your friends and family on your website. Take a day off to rest your brain, sleep more. Work out. Get that worry out of you through a healthy venue. You'll get more done when you feel refreshed, you won't make hasty decisions out of fear that way.
You don’t have enough time in the day? Ok. That means you definitely have enough work! Now, is your issue due to needing to hire more help, or are you bogged down by too many ideas at once? Think about that. You might need to pick one think to focus on and do better than trying to do everything at once.
Need to talk to your partner about doing more for the business? It doesn’t have to be an uncomfortable confrontation. Go out for coffee and talk about your vision for the company and ask what theirs is. You can really talk about where your ideas differ. If their vision, or even your own, are unreasonable with the current output of the business-- then both of you can discuss what needs to change. Ask how you can do better as a partner and then tell them how they can help you in the ways you need. Laugh, talk, and reconnect. Remember why you wanted to go into business with this person. You’re smart and have great judgment, obviously because you're a great people-reader, so just rekindle that original spark.
In essence, just remember you’re great—don’t let your anxiety tell you otherwise.