Updated: Apr 10, 2019
In October of 2018, I resigned from my management position and stepped out on faith. I didn’t have another full-time opportunity lined up, and while I thought I had a plan, I soon realized that God had another idea for me.
In short, I’ve enjoyed creating, setting my own pace, and embracing a new part of myself. Still, I’ve experienced my fair share of stress. You know those days when yesterdays problems seem to overshadow any hope for tomorrow.
From the moment we silence our morning alarm, our thoughts begin racing with all the things that we need to do. Our feet hit the floor, and we're overwhelmed; the day's potential has faded, and it feels no different than any other day. It's as if your wants and needs are in competition for your attention.
If this sounds painfully familiar there is no need to worry; I'm here to help. Below are ten things that I do to stay on track, prepare, and most importantly, remain sane.
1. Visualize how achieving your goals and implementing your ideas will change various aspects of your life. Often, we know what it is that we want, but we rarely consider how it may improve the various aspects of our lives. Allow yourself to be in that moment. For instance, if you are pursuing a new job, take a second to imagine how it will feel to have more money, how that will impact your family and give you more free time. Embrace that joy, as it holds a power to propel you forward.
2. Write your ideas and goals on paper. Humans are sensor-driven beings. We believe it when we can see it. When you write down your vision, you know your end goal. Even a very loose outline has the potential to reduce the anxiety that usually accompanies uncertainty, as it will help you pinpoint each approximate step.
3. Create a tentative schedule for each task, but most importantly, sub-tasks. Creating sub-tasks are an excellent way to divide your huge goals into feasible checkpoints. Do you remember when you were a child and adults would give you little treats for your small accomplishments towards a long-term objective? Remember how good that felt? My granny would grant me small privileges when I did well on a school assignment, and once I received the final grade, she would take me shopping. A schedule will help you hold yourself accountable. When you can mark tasks as completed, you feel accomplished. It will become the fuel you need to finish strong.
4. Only think twice about things that are in your power to change. Besides life, time is the one thing you can never get back, so there's no point to waste worrying and aging yourself about things you don't have the power to change. When you catch yourself stressing about something that is not within your control, refocus your energy on your action steps, and then pursue them.
5. List the things you are willing to do that will get you closer to your goal and ideas. Acknowledging what you can do is empowering but recognizing what you are willing to do is the most important. You must be realistic about your work ethic. This reflection exercise places full responsibility in your hands and challenges you to step up.
6. Be flexible. Nothing hardly ever goes to plan. You must be able to bounce back and take a different course when the situation warrants.
Past actions are the best predictors of future behavior. To get something you've never had or to go, somewhere you've never been, you have to do something you've never done.
7. Have fun. All work and no play makes Jane a dull girl; which in turn will smother your creativity and eventually break your spirit. Your to-do list won't grow feet and walk away. Grabbing drinks with girlfriends or a date with your boyfriend is essential to prevent burnout.
8. Recognize and accept the reality of sacrifice. Past actions are the best predictors of future behavior. Therefore, to get something you've never had or to go, somewhere you've never been, you have to do something you've never done. You will have to give up things, and at times, people. To gain, you must let go. There are people and things that are meant to be with you for a lifetime, but they are few. As you grow and change, so must everything else around you.
9. Be honest with yourself. What do you really want? Not, what do you think everyone expects of you. You will only be able to fully dedicate yourself if you believe in what you are doing; otherwise, you will continue to give it partial dedication.
10. Take the Challenge. No one likes the easy way out. Make it interesting. Force yourself to step outside your comfort zone. Your wings cannot spread in a cage, think big and act bigger.
As a freelancer or entrepreneur, what techniques have you found to be most useful when managing stress?