Yet another unconventional post. Let’s just keep this train rolling while we can.
As you can see, June was a monster of a month and therefore NOTHING was written.
So here we are in July and I’m finally finding time to type up something I’ve had on my mind that needed to be shared with you all. It’s a REAL STORY that happened to me and sparked this post. I’m hoping it will help at least one person figure out how to better manage their stress. Especially if you are an entrepreneur. But really it applies to anyone who is trying to juggle a busy life and feeling like their chest is going to cave in from the weight of it all. Isn’t that the majority of the population? So let’s tackle this.
THE STORY: This all started when an amazing photographer friend of mine reached out to her followers on Instagram with any and all tips on managing stress. She is a fellow entrepreneur (and a very, very successful one at that) and I just think she is a gem. So I decided to go the text message route instead to make sure I didn’t hit my 1,000 character limit in a message. I had a lot to say — out of care and out of trial and error through myself.
So I typed up 9 TIPS that hit home and thought may benefit her day-to-day. I knew after I sent the text that I had discovered something bigger than our black screens and I needed to take it beyond my novella text message. Like I always say, if I’m not helping YOU I’m not helping myself. So here they are!
9 TIPS ON HOW TO NAVIGATE THROUGH STRESS AS AN ENTREPRENEUR
Make a list. I’m an extremely anxious person. Always have been. So instead of letting the thought of all of your tasks for the day consume you, write them out. The key: Only make a list for the things your have to do THAT DAY. If you get too ahead of yourself it only becomes more overwhelming and cancels the process out completely. One day feels manageable. Cross off each task once it’s complete so you can visually see the pay-off and watch your anxiety float the f’ away.
Wall Calendar. This is helpful for those of you who scrunched your nose up to my 1-Day List idea. I get it. I’m a slight control freak in this way too. Why wouldn’t you want to see everything mapped out for the week? The month? Q3 and Q4? Planning is POWER over your stress. So I have a big wall calendar in my studio and it’s essentially already filled to the brim. WRITE IN PENCIL. Life changes. People cancel. Opportunities pop-up. Cross each day off once you’re done so you aren’t swallowed up with fear when you glance at it.
I also take a peep at the upcoming day and rest of the week each night before I hop in to bed to get my mind right for the upcoming day.
Big Things make it to the wall calendar. Small Tasks stay on my 1-Day Lists. It helps manage priority and again, stress.
Hot Take: YOU NEED TO GET CRAP OFF OF YOUR PHONE AND IN FRONT OF YOUR EYES CONSTANTLY. For people who like Google Docs and tech calendars, that’s fine. But if you’ve tried that and still can’t get your sh*t together, try this method. (I purchased an At-A-Glance desk calendar from Amazon and pinned it to my wall. Find what works for you. You can even double-up with a planner since it’s portable.)
Say No. So you have your wall calendar and you can see visually what’s going on. A designer calls you and needs something next week. But your month is COMPLETELY FULL. Ask yourself — will this opportunity be worth my stress? Can I REALLY accomplish this task and have a finished product I’m proud of? Will my other commissions and clients suffer and have a half-assed version of me from taking on this ‘urgent’ designer deal? Do I need the income? Usually the answer to all of these things is a blaring red flag, DON’T DO IT, NO, EVERYTHING IS GREAT RIGHT NOW. But sometimes your month/quarter weirdly has some magic, open gaps. And THIS is when you say yes.
Another thing — Will this project/collab/person bring you joy? If the answer is no, then politely tell them thank you, but no thank you. I’ve had to learn the hard way that working with someone just because it fills the available void can be more draining than not having the void filled at all. YOU DO NOT WANT TO WORK WITH THESE PEOPLE. Not everyone is meant to mesh! My style is specific. So take that in to account. Will it take more work to make this job come to fruition than your pay grade allots for? Will you lose happiness, money, and ultimately MORE time from saying yes because you’re bending? So by saying no, you are freeing up that time for someone who is the perfect fit for you. And if bills are a factor, you will be driven by that void to make something ELSE happen — something that makes sense for you. Trust your gut. Ask questions. Be reasonable.
Do the things you dread FIRST. This looks differently for a lot of people, especially depending on your profession. For me, it’s working out, sending out a non-exciting email (usually telling someone no), emailing someone absolutely amazing that I’m terrified of/so giddy to work with, running to the post office, etc. Knock these things out and I promise it will free-up your mind for the rest of your daily tasks. If not, you’ll be stuck thinking about them throughout the day, only growing the snowball of dread and essentially sucking the joy out of everything your 24-hours could have potentially held. BE AN ADULT AND GET IT DONE NOW.
Have grace with yourself. These aren’t in numerical order for a reason but if they WERE ranked, this would be #1. We are not superhuman. So if something from today runs over to tomorrow’s list, that’s ok. The world is not on fire. You can handle it. Try and accomplish that roll-over task first thing the next day because it feels old, dusty, and it’s nagging you to be completed.
And also, if you’re like me, and you think you’ve found this genius system for your days and week (Monday IS an office day, ok?!) but something seems to pop-up EVERY Monday that derails your shiny, perfect office time… just roll with it. It’s all got to get done. And sometimes there’s no other option but to tackle what’s happening in front of you. So take a deep breath and just do it. No complaining — Just crushing all the things that seems to fall in our laps as entrepreneurs when we need it to happen the least. (We are lucky to do what we do, never forget that. All jokes aside.)
Only do things that bring you JOY. This one will take time and is easier said than done. So don’t be bummed if you’re still saying yes to projects that make you want to gouge your eyes out. Everyone can relate to this at some point in their career. It takes TIME to find your niché market. But again, this goes hand-in-hand with Tip #3… if the client of your DREAMS asks to collaborate in 2 weeks but you’re swamped, sometimes these projects can make you so giddy you’re happy to stay up till 2 AM and do the extra leg work. Because you’re so excited to work with this person. THIS IS HOW 90% OF YOUR PROJECTS SHOULD FEEL. I wanted to say 100% but that’s not realistic. Your surroundings and choices should make you beam. Again, this takes time. Give yourself a year to get to this place of control and leverage.
Sidebar: If you’ve been interested in a new area, TRY IT! And if you find out it’s not meant for you then keep it moving. EX: my earring collaboration last winter. beautiful product, lots of work. huge success, semi-sucked the life out of me. LOVED the jewelry designers, still can’t look at an earring the same. even still, will eventually do it again in 2020. because I love accessories. but I’ll do it differently. You can’t grow if you don’t SAY YES to opportunities. But repeating the same things that did not bring you joy the same way and expecting to feel a different result... that’s called insanity my friends. Don’t be insane.
Know that YOU are a bada$$. Is this edited enough? Ke$ha would approve. And A$AP whatever his name is. It’s fine. Point is, you have to remind yourself of how far you’ve come. And also remind yourself that you are the boss. You control your destiny, your future, your happiness… it’s empowering and also gives you zero space to play the blame-game. Own up and make yourself proud. You can do this!
Control the Controllables. I wish so badly I could remember who initially told me this little phrase. It was a game changer. Especially for someone like me who is so anxious about every little thing all of the time. 20 years from now, 2 seconds from now… it all stresses me out. But if it’s not right in front of you, it’s actually a government holiday and the post office is NOT open, or you’ve already sent the email and you’re just waiting on a response from so-and so, just CHILL. Once you’ve done your end of the job, it’s in their hands now to move forward. Erase it from your mind until you get the PING! from your inbox or you find that time machine to fast-forward 20 years. Then you can worry about it. Stop obsessing and work on what needs to be done right now, right in front of your eyes. And go to the post office first thing in the morning. It’ll be there waiting.
Manifest Your Life into Existence. I know this sounds like psychobabble. But let me phrase it more like this… thinking things into existence for me is the equivalent of ‘Dress for the job you WANT, not the job you HAVE’ kind of thing. Put yourself in the same bracket as the people you look up to. I love listening to a good business podcast and a constant trend from every CEO out there is this:
You want to sign with 2 new galleries next year? Tell yourself you will. (and work really hard.)
You want to be on a business podcast? Tell yourself it will happen. (and connect with podcasters.)
You want to reach a new audience in Europe? Say it will happen and watch it come true. (and reach out to that market.)
It’s a weird, highly-affective mind trick that I think everyone can benefit from. A kind of affirmation, if you will. Why shouldn’t we tell ourselves the things we are going to make happen? I think it’s about confidence, too. Once you say it out loud (or in your head) it makes it seem real. Which can be really intimidating and scary. It’s like your’e announcing it to yourself that it’s going to happen so it then begins to feel like it has to happen or you aren’t being accountable. And you have to start believing you are worth falling in to these dreams of yours. If you manifest it, you start to find ways to make it happen. They stop feeling like dreams and goals and start to feel like a tangible thing that’s just another item on your wall calendar. Just another thing to mark off the list. They aren’t scary, they are exciting.
So it’s up to you to make it happen.
My hope is that even just ONE of these things helps bring more happiness and less stress in to your life. These 9 devices have worked for me. So use them, modify them for YOU because we are all so different. Trial and error is a beautiful thing. Just keep learning, growing, and stay hungry my friends!