The Big Picture: How Perspective and Incremental Progress Can Help You Manage Stress

As a seasoned business professional, it goes without saying that you knew stress would be a major factor in your life as a new business owner. But knowing it and coping with it are two very different things. After all, there are people depending on you to succeed — people in the office and people at home. Stress is a fact of life for any business owner, which is why it’s so important to develop a coping strategy. The stress is always there, and it can undermine your mental and physical health if you let it. Here are some ideas that have proven successful for business owners in many different industries. Hopefully, you’ll find something here that can help you.

Go Easy on Yourself

This sounds trite, but it’s essential to give yourself a break. It’s an idea that goes against the grain for many business people, as you’ve been trained to do whatever it takes to succeed, whether that means making personal sacrifices or working extra-long hours. It makes no sense to hold yourself to an impossible standard if it means running yourself into the ground and being unfit to perform as needed. If things don’t go your way, try using it as a learning opportunity. Some of the most successful executives have learned more from their failures than from their successes. Being unrelentingly tough on yourself will only leave you perpetually dissatisfied and unable to appreciate what you’ve achieved.

Financial Stress

For small business owners, finances are a constant source of stress because making ends meet while getting a business off the ground can be very difficult. Consider whether a small business loan, such as debt financing or equity financing, would help alleviate some of that stress by providing a “cash cushion” during leaner times. Unexpected expenses often crop up, like needing to replace equipment or staff members. Having the wherewithal to make it happen when needed is a tremendous relief, and it can help reduce your stress at work and home.

Take a Step Back

Maintaining your perspective is crucial for a business owner. Presumably, you took on the burden of running a business to benefit your family and control your own destiny. If you find yourself losing sight of those objectives, incorporate things like getting healthier or becoming more well-rounded into your thinking. That will help reconnect you with the “big picture.”

Trust Your System

It stands to reason that if you’ve become a business owner, you know how to manage your time and maximize your personal assets. Whatever your personal routine might be, it’s worked well for you thus far. Trust it. Don’t worry about fine-tuning how you prioritize, plan, and deal with staff. You’re successful because you’ve developed successful habits. The point of a routine is to help simplify things so the stress of hiring, making important decisions, and developing business plans doesn’t overwhelm you. Of course, don’t trust your system to the point of limiting your options. For example, if you’re new to the world of social media, don’t limit your ability to connect with clients by failing to investigate the benefits of advertising on Facebook or boosting your Instagram following. It’s all about finding that delicate balance and listening to your gut.

Hit Singles, Not Home Runs

If you’re swinging for the fences every time, you’re usually going to be disappointed with the results. Expecting home runs with every endeavor will only ratchet up your stress level. Instead, try to assess yourself in terms of measurable progress. You should have an incremental, not an all-at-once, mindset. It’s much healthier when it comes to controlling stress. In other words, think about how you’re doing today compared with yesterday. You’ll be able to look back on how far you’ve come and to determine where you’re headed.

Stress can destroy the dream of owning your own business if you’re not paying attention. You can’t devote the necessary energy to the task if you’re worn down, and you certainly can’t appreciate the experience if you’re never satisfied with results. Maintain perspective and focus on measurable, achievable goals as you move forward.

Ms. Morris is a life and career coach who strives to help others live the best lives that they can. She believes she can relate to clients who feel run over by life because of her own experiences. She spent years in an unfulfilling career in finance before deciding to help people in other ways.