As an entrepreneur, the professional challenges you face are well documented. But your career is only part of your life. When you go home from the office at the end of the day, you also have a personal life to deal with. How you confront issues on this side of the scale plays a direct and quantifiable role in the success you experience in your career.
Confronting 5 Personal Entrepreneur Challenges
You might put on a perfect face when you show up at the office in the mornings, but you’re feeling a lot of pressure at home. Whether it’s your health, money, time or relationships, there are things you’re dealing with on a personal level. In order to become the entrepreneur you want to be, you have to start with the person in the mirror.
We all have our own unique problems. However, if history reveals anything, it’s that busy entrepreneurs often face similar personal challenges. Here are a few of the most common ones — as well as some solutions for overcoming.
1. Little Time for Relationships
Do you spend more time with your employees than with your spouse? Can you remember the last time you played with your kids when there was still daylight outside? Have you been on an actual date in the past six months? Can you recall a time when you just hung out with friends without watching the clock and thinking about work?
When you’re working 12-, 14-, or 16-plus hour days, there isn’t a whole lot of time for other things. Personal relationships — of the romantic, familial, and friendship variety — are most dramatically affected. You simply don’t have time for them with your current schedule.
The good news is you aren’t alone. There are thousands of other entrepreneurs dealing with the same problem. The bad news is that you’re on an unsustainable path that will eventually result in a dramatic crash and burn. You need personal relationships and you have to make time for them. The question is, how?
Intentionality is the key. You’re intentional about everything in your business, so why can’t you be about your time outside of work? With your spouse, significant other, or kids, think about time in terms of quality, not quantity. You might not have two hours of free time every day, but if you can offer 20 minutes of really meaningful time, that goes a long way. Ask questions, listen, laugh, connect …don’t just watch TV and complain about stress.
2. Perceived Lack of Stability
You might be making good money, but if you’ve recently gone from being a W-2 employee to self-employed, you could find it difficult to get lenders and financial institutions to take you seriously.
The home loan process is the best example here. In order to qualify for a mortgage, most traditional lenders want self-employed applicants to have at least two years of tax returns. Since the status of self-employed can mean almost anything, they need some proof of stability.
Waiting until you meet the bank’s requirements is one option. Another option is to work with an alternative mortgage broker, which aren’t owned by banks.
“One of the biggest advantages of working with a mortgage broker is that we have access to a range of lenders and can find you a loan that fits your specific criteria,” explains Dana Boyd of Tundra, a mortgage broker that often works with first-time buyers. “We have the freedom to work with the most suitable lender.”
There’s almost always a work-around. As long as you’re bringing in some money and have the documents to support your income, there are options available.
3. Constant Stress and Anxiety
When you’re a 9-to-5 salaried employee with a predictable schedule and guaranteed salary, you have the ability to do your work and then forget about it when you clock out for the day/weekend. There’s freedom in the predictability — not to mention the fact that you’re just an employee, not the person in charge. When you’re an entrepreneur, startup founder or business owner, you don’t have the same luxury of mentally clocking out when you leave the office.
One of the most common problems entrepreneurs report is the inability to leave work at work. They bring their troubles home with them, which leads to a chronic cycle of stress and anxiety. Left alone, this constant stress wreaks havoc and eventually causes both mental and physical health problems.
There are a variety of methods you can use to deal with stress and anxiety, but one technique CEO and startup founder Chris Myers suggests is cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT.
“The core idea behind CBT is that an individual can change behavior, thinking, or emotions by understanding and reorganizing the way those three elements interact with each other,” Myers explains. There are plenty of other things you can do, but until you learn to get control over your thoughts, you’ll always be plagued by chronic stress and anxiety.
4. High Risk of Substance Abuse
“A 2014 study published in the Journal of Business Venturing, found that habitual entrepreneurs display symptoms of behavioral addictions, such as obsessive thoughts, withdrawal-engagement cycles, and negative emotional outcomes,” psychotherapist Amy Morin writes. “Similar to other behavioral addictions — like gambling or internet usage — serial entrepreneurs are likely to experience negative consequences that stem from their need to keep going.”
Unfortunately, this compulsiveness — mixed with high stress and anxiety — leads to a higher risk of substance abuse. Entrepreneurs frequently turn to alcohol, prescription drugs, stimulants and narcotics.
5. Lack of Vacation Time
One practical challenge entrepreneurs frequently face is a lack of vacation time (and time off in general). A recent study found 70 percent of business owners weren’t even able to stay away from work on Thanksgiving.
When you’re running the show, so to speak, it’s not as easy as setting an email away message and telling the office you’ll be back in a week. It is, however, possible to take a vacation.
If you want to take a vacation, you have to make advanced preparations and put certain systems and people in place to ensure everything runs smoothly in your absence. Another little trick is to tell your customers, suppliers and business partners that you’ll return a day or two after you actually do. This gives you some extra time to get settled in after vacation and catch up.
Don’t Let Personal Problems Fester
It’s easy to compartmentalize your life. You have your business, your family, your friends, your hobbies, etc. Categorizing our lives allows us to make more sense of what’s happening and provides a sense of control in the midst of chaos.
Unfortunately, the world doesn’t work this way. Everything in one “compartment” spills over into the next and has a direct effect on the other areas of your life. While you might find it tempting to segment your personal challenges and avoid dealing with them, the reality is they have an impact on your career, health and livelihood.
The longer you let personal problems fester underneath the surface, the more likely that they’ll swell up and lead to bigger problems. By proactively addressing your challenges, problems and inner demons, you can get the help you need and discover the freedom of community and healing.
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