9 Proven Strategies to Beat Entrepreneurial Anxiety for Good
Every week, I receive a message from a client or reader that goes something like this…
“Craig”, they’ll say, “I’m dealing with crazy anxiety right now and don’t know what to do! Business is good, but I constantly feel behind and can’t sleep at night because I have too many thoughts racing around my brain.”
And I get it. I’ve been there too.
If you’ve read any of my previous essays, then you probably know about my “million dollar anxiety attack” I had back in 2006…right after making my first 7-figures.
Despite my successes, my lifestyle was radically misaligned. I’d build my life around my business and the stress of running a million-dollar company led to bing drinking and a lot of partying.
Eventually, my lifestyle caught up with me and I spent 6 months battling chronic anxiety attacks–checking myself into the ER twice thinking I was having a heart attack.
But today, I’m anxiety-free. And, by using the 9 tactics I’m about to share with you, I’ve helped thousands of other entrepreneurs beat their anxiety for good and build the life and business of their dreams.
1. Use “Stoic Objectivism” to Find the Solution
When you’re struggling with anxiety and don’t know what to do next, it’s easy to get overwhelmed.
You see the challenges in your life as a matter of personal identity and, instead of looking at your situation objectively, you allow fear, emotion, and personal attachment to cloud your judgment.
Luckily, the solution is simple.
The ancient Stoics encouraged us to detach ourselves from our struggles by asking a simple question:
“What advice would I give to someone else in the same situation?”
It’s easy to give advice to other people. Whenever our friends or family members come to us with their problems, we’re quick to prescribe a solution because we aren’t attached to the outcomes. Our lack of emotionality allows us to look at their situation objectively and clearly see what they need to start or stop doing.
When a friend is struggling with anxiety, buried in credit card debt, heading for a divorce, or getting sick from overwork, we know what they need to do to fix the situation. We know the exact steps they need to take, but because we’re so attached to our own challenges, we struggle to see the solutions to our own problems with this level of clarity.
You already know the solution to whatever problems you’re facing. You know what you should do. But your conflicting emotions are keeping you stuck in indecision.
So ask yourself…”If a friend came to me with the exact same problems I’m facing right now…what would I tell them?”
Once you have your answer, go and take action.
Because that is what you should have done all along.
2. Remember: Values and Vision Drive Every Decision
There’s an old Proverb that says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”
And truer words have yet to be spoken.
After coaching hundreds of 7-figure clients and working with thousands of high-performers at my workshops, retreats, and ground coaching programs, I’ve discovered that entrepreneurial anxiety has one main source…
Misalignment between your values and vision and your actions.
If you say that you value your family and friends…but you work 70-hours a week, miss every date night, and can’t remember the last time you made it to one of your kid’s ball games…you’re going to feel anxious.
If you say that you value financial freedom and independence…but you live outside your means and go into debt for vanity purchases like a new car or bigger house…you’re going to feel anxious.
Similarly, if you have a big vision for the future, career, and lifestyle you want to live but aren’t doing anything to make that vision your reality…you’re going to feel anxious
The only way to eradicate entrepreneurial anxiety once and for all is to develop a crystal clear vision and rock-solid set of personal values and then align every thought, word, and action with them.
Without strong values and a clear vision, you’ll always be stuck in indecision. You won’t know which opportunities to pursue, how to structure your life, or what to prioritize.
Even worse, you’ll fall prey to the traps of greed, envy, and comparison syndrome. Instead of feeling grateful for everything you have in your own life and trusting that, with time and hard work, you will achieve all the big goals you’ve set for yourself…you’ll develop a “black heart of envy” and start to hate other people for their successes.
But when you have your vision in place…when you know what you value and what you want to get out of life…your decision making becomes automatic.
You’ll know when you need to slow down and when you need to put the pedal to the floor. You’ll know when to hire, fire, outsource and automate. You’ll know when to leave a good position to pursue something great and when you should stick it out at something you don’t enjoy.
As the great business mogul, Roy Disney said, “It’s not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are.”
3. Become a Leaning Machine
Warren Buffet, at one point the richest man on the planet, is notorious for his insatiable curiosity and commitment to learning.
He reads for five to eight hours on any given day, consuming more knowledge in a single afternoon than most people do in a month.
While this is an admittedly impressive feat in and of itself, what I find more fascinating than Warren’s obsession with his personal education is the compounding effect this obsession has had over the past few decades.
What most people don’t realize is that Warren didn’t become a billionaire until he was already in his 60’s. And according to his partners at Berkshire Hathaway, he didn’t “hit his stride” as an investor until after age 65.
According to his business partner Charlie Munger, “Warren’s investing skills have markedly increased since he turned 65 […] I can report that, if he had stopped with what he knew at earlier points, the record would be a pale shadow of what it is.”
When you’re trapped in entrepreneurial anxiety and facing problems for which you don’t have a solution, it’s easy to let your education and personal growth stagnate. You start to view learning as a luxury instead of a necessity.
But we forget that we have access to (quite literally) millions of years of cumulative human experience at our fingertips.
With the click of a button, you can learn lessons that took someone else decades to discover.
Whether you’re anxious about credit card debt, marriage problems, a floundering business, or health complications there are answers. Other people have suffered through the years of adversity to solve the problem you’re facing right now and, if you’re willing to do some digging, you can overcome the challenges in your life faster and easier than you currently believe possible.
By finding the one big idea or the one simple solution, you can turn it all around in record time.
As Warren said, “Everyone learns through failure, it just doesn’t have to be your own.”
4. Treat Yourself Like a Pro Athlete
Whenever I sit down to work with a client who’s struggling with entrepreneurial anxiety, the first thing I recommend is for them to double down on their self-care practices and make more time for non-work related activities.
And their response is almost always the same.
“Craig” they’ll say, “You don’t understand! I’m so overwhelmed…I don’t have time to go to the gym, get a massage, or take a day off!”
My response is equally predictable.
“The overwhelm you’re experiencing is exactly why these self-care practices are non-negotiable!”
If you want to perform at the highest levels in life and business, you must be performing at the highest levels physically and mentally. When you’re sleep-deprived, malnourished, burned out, and anxious, bad decision making becomes inevitable.
Just ask Dov Charney, the Founder and former CEO of American Apparel–at one point a multibillion-dollar company and one of the biggest apparel brands on the planet.
Dov was notorious for his relentless commitment to work and, at one point, he even built a small bedroom inside his office…sleeping on a cot on the floor and often going for days without sleep.
His lack of intentional self-care eventually destroyed his abilities as a leader and resulted in the bankruptcy of his company (not to mention a $20 million personal debt to a team of VC’s).
If Dov had understood the power of self-care and prioritized sleep, recovery, and leisure, the story could have turned out much differently.
To break free from anxiety and avoid this sort of break down in your life and business, you must treat yourself like an elite athlete and prioritize your personal performance and well-being above temporary gains and quick financial wins.
Get at least 7 hours of sleep every night. Go to the gym three times a week and spend at least 30-minutes walking outside on your rest days. Get massages, eat the best foods you can afford, invest in high-quality supplements and performance-enhancing gear (like a standing desk, blue light blocking glasses, and a nice mattress).
Protect yourself like the invaluable asset you are and your anxiety will slowly start to disappear.
5. Get the Lego Pieces Out of Your Head
A few years ago, I bought my business partner Matt Smith a 4,000 piece Lego Death Star for Christmas. And to this day, he will still jokingly tell me how much he “hates me” for it.
Don’t get me wrong…the set looks awesome on the box. But when you dump 4,000 tiny plastic bricks on the floor, anxiety becomes inevitable.
The same is true of the cluttered “lego pieces” in your head.
Even when you know your vision, it’s hard to make sense of all the pieces you need to put together to bring it into reality. Because, unlike the lego set I bought for Matt, you don’t yet have an instruction manual for achieving your big goals and dreams (something I specialize in at my group coaching workshops).
To clear the clutter, eliminate anxiety, and clearly see the big picture, you need to get all of the pieces out of your head and dump them on the floor…or in our case, onto a piece of paper.
By writing down all the things that are causing anxiety in your life and looking at them objectively, you can regain control of your thoughts and see your situation for what it is. When all of the pieces are out of your head, it’s easier to see how they all fit together.
To help you with this, I encourage you to build the habit of a daily “brain dump” immediately after you finish work each day. The practice is simple. During the final 15 minutes of your day, pull out a piece of paper and write down everything that you need or want to do over the next few days.
From here, you can begin to eliminate tasks and obligations that don’t serve your vision (more on this later), schedule the things that matter, and get clarity on what you need to do and why. You can figure out which projects to prioritize, which ones to let go, and what new opportunities you can pursue to achieve your goals faster.
When combined with a regular journaling practice (to help you make sense of your emotions, frustrations, and desires) and a tool like my 90-Day Blueprint–click here to download your copy today–you can eliminate the clutter in your head, get crystal clear on the steps you need to take, and end anxiety for good.
6. Remember: It Will All Be Over Soon
The ancient Stoic philosopher Marcus Aurelius had a “weird” practice he would use in times of stress and anxiety.
Instead of focusing on everything that was going right in his life or even focusing on the problems in his life, he would sit and quietly contemplate the inevitability of death.
Our species has a “weird human trick” of forgetting the fact that the survival rate on planet earth is 0%. No one, in the history of humankind, has ever beaten death. Sooner or later, we’re all going to die.
As counterintuitive as it might sound, this is actually one of the most comforting facts you can accept.
When you realize that we’re all going to die, when you truly accept that your failures and successes will matter very little (if at all) in the grand scheme of the universe, you release the pressure to be perfect. You realize that life is, more than anything, meant to be enjoyed.
Five hundred years from now, no one will care if your business generated $10,000 a month, $100,000 a month, or went completely bankrupt. They won’t care about the 15 rejection letters you received for your book or the $50,000 of debt you carried with you through your 30s. And neither will you.
The only thing that matters, when it’s all said and done, is that you enjoyed the ride. That you made a positive impact on the lives of others and left the world just a little better than you found it.
Anxiety only arises when we give events more meaning than they deserve. And by developing a healthy relationship with your own mortality, you will keep perspective on your problems and remember, as I like to remind myself…
It will all be over soon.
7. Be Realistically Impatient
Even though we’re all headed to the same destination (death), most of us have a lot more time left on this planet than we realize.
If you’re under the age of 50 and you’ve taken care of your health up to this point, it’s likely that you have another five to six decades left to fulfill your vision and create the life you’ve always wanted.
And most of our anxiety results from forgetting this fact.
The small setbacks and failures you’re facing today will not only be forgotten in 500 years…you will likely forget them in the next five!
You’ve got a long life ahead of you (remember, Buffet didn’t hit his peak as an investor until his mid 60’s!) and you have plenty of time to overcome whatever challenges you’re facing today.
As such, I encourage you to be “realistically impatient.”
Yes, success loves speed and delay kills dreams. Yes, you should move as fast as you can and try to achieve your big goals sooner rather than later.
But you need to temper your ambitions with a dose of realism.
The average American millionaire is 62 years old. The average self-made billionaire didn’t make their first million until 37 and didn’t make their first billion until their early 50’s!
It might take you five or ten more years before you have the business you really want. It might take you two to three years to lose the extra weight (after all, it likely took two to three years for you to gain it in the first place). It might take you a few years to get out of debt and achieve financial freedom.
And that’s ok.
Change doesn’t need to happen overnight. If you don’t become a millionaire until your 40’s, you’re still ahead of more than 80% of the population.
So relax. Slow down. Embrace the long game. And remember…you have time.
8. Script Your Plays, Script Your Days
The best of the best always script their plays.
Can you imagine what would happen if you went to see Phantom of the Opera at Broadway… and the actors and production workers improvised the entire performance?
Or if a team of Navy SEALs was sent on a mission without a plan or any idea of who they were fighting or what their objective was?
Or if The Rolling Stones sold out a concert without agreeing to a setlist or planning their songs ahead of time?
It would be chaos!
Yet, as obvious as this sounds inside the context of a musical, military mission, or rock concert, it isn’t as obvious inside the context of your life.
If you want to get more out of yourself and beat entrepreneurial anxiety once and for all, you must have a plan for every quarter, month, week, and day. Period.
Without a plan, you are setting yourself up for failure. You will waste time, prioritize the wrong tasks, and compound your anxiety.
One of the fastest ways I know of to beat anxiety and reclaim control of your life is to commit to daily and weekly planning using my Perfect Day Formula and 7X7 Perfect Week Grid.
By taking 2 hours every Sunday to map out your week and 15 minutes every afternoon to script out the following day, you will gain a massive advantage over your competition and ensure that you’re spending every second in the most effective way possible.
Remember the words of Benjamin Franklin, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.”
9. Practice Systematic, Automatic Elimination and Delegation
Finally, to eliminate anxiety, you must practice systematic, automation elimination and delegation.
When you waste your days distracted by social media, email, and busy work (that seems important but does nothing to drive real progress) anxiety is inevitable.
Similarly, when you try to “do it all” and be the CEO, CFO, CMO, assistant, and janitor in your business, anxiety is inevitable.
To solve these problems, you must get crystal clarity on the distractions, temptations, and busywork that are preventing you from performing at your best and doing the important work required to build your empire.
Luckily, I’ve developed a simple tool to help you do this.
I call it “The Billionaire Time Matrix” and it works like this…
Pull out a sheet of paper and create a grid with four squares. Inside of those squares write…
- What Do I Hate Doing?
- What is Not My Job?
- What Doesn’t Need to Be Done?
- What Are My Distractions?
First, you’re going to ask yourself, “What do I hate doing?” What causes you the most anxiety? What drains your mental energy and causes 10X more stress than it’s worth?
For me, it was spending my “magic time” on calls with overseas clients. Instead of doing the legacy work required to drive my business forward, my mornings were dictated by my client’s schedules. When I realized this I created a personal rule that I don’t take calls until after 10am.
Not only did this shift allow me to be more productive, but it dramatically reduced my anxiety and the number of calls I had to complete each week.
Next, you’re going to ask yourself, “What am I doing that doesn’t need to be done at all?”
For me, it was small podcasts. I used to waste 3-5 hours each week being interviewed on shows that drove (literally) no revenue or growth in my business. When I completed this exercise and realized that I was wasting time and energy on something with a negative ROI, I decided to set strict guidelines around what podcasts I would appear on, saving myself time, energy, and anxiety.
In the third box, you’re going to write out all of the things you’re currently doing that are not your job. Things that need to be done but do not need to be done by you.
For example, Austin, my Editor, who works two full-time jobs in addition to tackling freelance copywriting projects and building his own side hustle, realized that he was wasting 10-15 hours a week uploading podcast episodes, scheduling emails and blog posts, and handling administrative work that, as important as it was, wasn’t his job.
He hired a virtual assistant, outsourced the busywork, and added more than 10 free hours a week back to his schedule (and became more effective at his other tasks as a result).
And finally, you’re going to identify your biggest distractions during the week.
Ask yourself, “What are the temptations that are holding me back?” “What distractions do I indulge in that serve no purpose and cause unnecessary anxiety?”
Maybe it’s checking Instagram (as it was for me), or watching YouTube videos, or chatting with coworkers at a water cooler. Whatever it is, right it down and get publically accountable to eradicating your distractions.
If you will do this, your anxiety will disappear. You’ll have more time for what matters. You’ll make more money. And you will begin to enjoy your life on a deeper level.
Fill it out now and let me know what you’re committed to in the comments below.
By using these 9 tactics every week, you are well on your way to beating entrepreneurial anxiety for good.
Transformation takes time.
Your anxiety didn’t happen overnight and it won’t disappear overnight. But if you trust the process and put in the work every day, you can beat your anxiety for good and live your perfect life.
Want to Achieve Your 12-month Goals in the Next 12 Weeks?
Then click here to get free access to my “90-Day Reality Maker Blueprint”–the exact tool I use with my $25k/day coaching clients–where I’ll show you how to achieve your biggest goals in only 90-days or less.