Many first-time entrepreneurs find themselves in a moment of crisis. After weeks or months of long, difficult workdays, unexpected setbacks and delays, things learned the too-hard way, there often comes a moment where you question your goals, your ability, and your decisions. You wonder if you’ve come too far down the wrong path, with no idea how to turn back. Maybe you just want to go home and crawl into bed and stay there for a few years.
Many people aren’t prepared for how emotionally difficult it can be to start your own business and pursue your passion. And although the sense of getting lost and growing depressed is common, it’s not often talked about. Here are some ways that first-time entrepreneurs can defeat emotional downturns and stay motivated:
Rely on your peers when managing depression.
It’s not always appropriate or desirable to share emotions of doubt or misgiving within your business, even with trusted partners and employees; it risks hurting morale and affecting working relationships. Build a network of other entrepreneurs who will listen, give support, and offer solutions. A peer network understands what you are going through and will be there for you during low moments.
Take care of yourself.
This seems easier said than done when feeling the weight and responsibility for the success of your business, but forcing yourself to make time for self-care pays off for you and for your venture. Spend time in nature, do some heart-healthy low-impact exercise, get good sleep, and spend quality time with friends and family. Focusing on relaxing, enjoyable, non-work-related activities not only helps recharge your batteries but can inspire renewed creativity and better solutions at work.
Challenge negative thoughts.
Many of our most insidious negative thoughts are automatic, and won’t stand up to rational examination. If you find yourself focusing too much on negative thoughts and events, take the time to make a list every day of things that are working and going well. If you find yourself making negative assumptions with no evidence, remind yourself that jumping to negative conclusions is neither helpful nor reasonable. And try not to generalize one setback or failure into widespread negative thinking about your business or yourself.
Dig into your passion.
Unfortunately, it often happens that a person starts a business because they really want to do the thing they are passionate about, but then find themselves spending the majority of the time on the business itself. While systems, payroll, accounting, development, marketing, infrastructure, recruiting, and management are all tasks that entrepreneurs have to do in order to be successful, remember to make time to do the original work that inspired and excited you, to begin with. Touching base with your passion keeps you grounded and motivated, and makes you a better leader and representative for your business.
The most difficult aspect of depression is that it undermines your ability to do the very things that would help ease depression. It can be pernicious over time. Once depression sets in, it becomes much harder to reach out and form new friendships, get motivated to exercise or be inspired by your passion. That’s all the more reason to practice these skills now and make a habit of them so that you have the tools, resources, and resilience necessary to combat emotional setbacks when they come.
The truth is that every first-time entrepreneur faces a task that is difficult and demanding, financially, socially, physically, and emotionally. But it’s a task worth doing, in order to share your unique abilities, perspectives, and solutions with the world. Managing depression during this time is very important. Making the time to keep yourself balanced, focused, and healthy, inside and out, benefits you, your business, and the world that waits for you.