by Dr. Cindy Briggs
You know that saying that goes something like, “it’s not if… it’s when”? That can be valid when talking about entrepreneurial meltdowns too. It’s not IF, it is definitely WHEN.
Why in the world would a business professor/coach talk about meltdowns? I am supposed to be encouraging, hopeful, and full of suggestions. I am the one who is supposed to tell you to just hustle, get in there every day, and fake it til you make it.
You know what— I can’t do that. Why? Because I am also an entrepreneur who has been doing this for over 20 years, and you know what… I have meltdowns. It happens. Sometimes I can go months and be fine, but then there will be a day, or two, or more where I am just overwhelmed. I think, “I can’t do this anymore.” There may be tears, yelling, and lots of drama. There are also meltdowns when I am just calm but it is too calm!
As an entrepreneur, we know the hours are long. The to-do list is overwhelming, and there is typically not a huge staff to help. We are in there creating, envisioning, planning, and selling. In many instances, we are responsible for that paycheck to come in, so we don’t have the luxury of stopping.
Let me tell you a secret– the meltdown WILL happen so let’s plan for it, and make sure we are ready when it hits.
Let me share my most recent meltdown (yes, there have been several over the years). We are currently running four businesses, homeschooling our children, and trying to balance it all. On a very recent Monday, my meltdown hit. My husband and I didn’t communicate on a bill— and it didn’t get paid– and our internet was turned off (NOT good for a business). As I was dealing with this issue, both children were needing help with their school work and I acted frustrated with them, and then a delivery was taking place and our dogs got out and were nuts, and at that moment my phone rang with a representative from a company we are trying to work with and I couldn’t grab the call. It was like every minute something new hit… and I went into my office and burst into tears. I mean the big sobbing tears. The ones that are from a lack of sleep, eating poorly, having too many irons in the fire….. and I couldn’t stop.
In those moments, I wonder why I am trying to do all of this. It all feels grim and overwhelming and quite honestly… stupid. After a few moments of letting the tears come out, I am able to regain control and remember my “why” for being an entrepreneur.
Your meltdown may look nothing like mine…. but take a minute to think about what yours looks like. Do you overeat, overexercise, go to bed, get angry, feel sad, or a mix of all? Instead of swearing to ourselves that we won’t have a meltdown— let’s more determine what we should do when one does hit us.
STEPS TO HELP IN A MELTDOWN
Step Away-– we need to be able to step away from whatever we are doing. It is OK– even for a few minutes. Go outside, take a walk, get out of your office and just take deep breaths. Literally step away from what you are doing at that moment.
Find your People-– have someone you can call (or talk to in person). Someone who won’t judge you, or just tell you it will all be ok. (It will be– but you need someone to just listen at this point). Having this sounding board can sometimes help us talk through our situation.
Go to bed-– I know I said this might be bad earlier, but sometimes a good night sleep (or even a good nap) can help recharge us. It is one of our bodies way of healing.
Create a plan-– this isn’t always the best answer, but sometimes when I am having a hard time I come up with ideas on how to make it better. In my example above, during my latest meltdown I was able to think of a solution because I didn’t want this to happen again— my anger/pain/sadness put me in a place that I thought of how to fix it (I wrote it down and then walked away!)
I can’t give you all the answers to help during a meltdown, but I want to at least encourage you that it doesn’t just happen to you.. it happens to us all! Don’t feel alone, and don’t give up. Being an entrepreneur is hard— but it can be so very rewarding. Always go back to your WHY of doing this in the first place…. and that should help ground you again.
Dr. Cindy Briggs is an entrepreneur, author, speaker, college professor, wife and mom. Her mission is to provide programs that can help entrepreneurs and communities thrive. To find out more, visit www.cindybriggsphd.com.