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All Entrepreneurs are Stressed, Right?

Stress is defined by Merriam-Webster as “a state of mental tension and worry caused by problems in your life, work, etc.” and as “something that causes strong feelings of worry or anxiety.”

I hardly ever get stressed out. Anymore, that is.

I am an entrepreneur. I was a single dad for 6 years, beginning in year 3 of my firm’s existence. For part of that time, I had a very seasonal work load that kept me really busy for the first quarter of the year, then tapered off in the middle and end to a more reasonable pace. By my count, those are three very stressful situations. And I had my share of stressful days and nights.

My reasons for not being stressed out these days have nothing to do with my life getting easier or my entrepreneurial life being suddenly without worry. They have everything to do with how I regard my life and the areas of it that may periodically cause me some worry or the occasional sleepless night. It’s also helpful to have a spouse that firmly believes in being prepared for life as well. Here are three things that I started doing that caused my stress level to drop to nearly a zero level:

I took back my mornings.

Mornings used to be so hectic. Get up a little later than I planned, scramble to get ready, scramble to get my daughter ready for her day, make breakfast, drop her off at school (or daycare in the early days), then get to work. I was already behind when I walked in the door, and feeling that way does wonders for your stress level, right?

How did I do that?

  • I took 5 minutes each night to pick out my clothes and my daughter’s clothes.
  • I took a quick look at my calendar for the next day to see what I had to.
  • I started getting up about 15 minutes earlier, and I started going to bed about a half hour earlier.

I stopped buying into the word “stress.”

This sounds dumb, but I just stopped using the word. I stopped acknowledging its existence. I absolutely detest it when I hear “I’m so stressed out.” That’s your fault. It is incumbent upon us to figure out a way to deal with what’s bothering us and move past it.

I continually explore new ways to make my life easier and eschew the term “time management.”

I read about two books per month. I like to find books on new ways to organize my life and my tasks, and I take what I can from them. I think I’m the last person in the world to read “Getting Things Done” by David Allen, and there are some wonderful tips in there. I highly recommend it. I look for books on exercise, discipline, food…anything that can make my life easier. Not everything applies, but there is something for everyone out there.

I also abhor the term “time management.” It’s a buzzword created by someone to sell a book or publish an article, and it means nothing. The very term sets you up to fail. You cannot manage time. You can only manage your relationship with and your outlook on time. If you don’t get a little control over how you spend your time, it will take control of you, and I prefer to be in control of my life.

Do I have bad days? Yes. It’s probably more like one bad thing that happened in the morning that threw off my day, and I was responsible for feeling bad for the remainder of it. What a waste, but it happens.

Do bad things happen? Of course they do. And they don’t announce themselves and give you fair warning in most cases. But nothing (except your untimely demise) will take away your power to get through something bad if you want to do it badly enough. You aren’t supposed to live in a state of anxiety…you’re wasting your life if you do

Do I have a bad life? Absolutely and unequivocally, NO. I have a wonderful career that I enjoy; I have a wonderful wife and daughter that I love beyond measure; I have shelter and food at my disposal; and I have running water. I’m thankful every day for what I have. And I can say, without sounding haughty, that if you aren’t jealous of my life, you aren’t paying attention. I have the life I always wanted, and I dare circumstances to try and take it away from me. Entrepreneurs, get rid of your stress…today. You’re the only one who can change your life.

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