Studies have shown that entrepreneurs are more susceptible to struggling emotionally. These are some examples from my life as an entrepreneur of 25 years.
1. Stress (and lack of self-care to manage stress)
The stress and "hustle"of building your business shows up in many different ways. It's so easy to get caught up in the grind, that you forget to take vacations, take time off, turn off your thoughts around business, sleep, eat, and even just breathe. These tactics seem to work short term. You feel like you have accomplished a lot when you pull an all nighter, using caffeine to get you through the next day, but over time these patterns will take you out. The addiction rate is higher in entrepreneurs; it's an attempt to numb our stress and pain. But there is a better way. You can learn healthy coping skills. You can build a business without losing yourself.
2. Uncertainty, So much uncertainty
Most of us got into entrepreneurship to "be our own boss" and to "live our dreams." But that dream can turn into a nightmare if we believe that everything depends on us. The uncertainties of business can be debilitating when we realize how much is actually out of our control.
3. Social isolation
Especially in the early stages of launching a business or starting a one-man business, social isolation and loneliness can lead to depression. It's imperative to have a plan for how you are going to combat loneliness.
4. Image management and shame
Many of us buy into the lie that entrepreneurship is all roses--you set your own hours; your finances get better each month; you have it all under control. The internet and social media perpetuate this idea. Few of us have a safe place in our life where we can tell the truth--I'm broke; clients aren't coming in as fast as I imagined; I'm scared; I'm ready to quit, and on and on. So we continue to pretend, knowing our insides don't match our outsides, and we come to know shame. We continue in image management, and each day, little by little, we loose our sense of self. It's imperative that you have safe people in your life to talk and share with, because shame grows in isolation.
5. Predisposition to mental health challenges
Many of the qualities that make us great entrepreneurs (creativity, empathy, humor, independence, risk taking, multitasking, and dealing with uncertainty) are the very qualities that can destroy us. They helped us cope in childhood, but quickly become toxic to us in adulthood as they take the form of perfectionism, people pleasing, shame, anxiety, and discomfort with instability. Fortunately, there is hope. Through the Core Story and other tools, you can become aware of core lies you believe and decide if you want to continue in life with the same narratives, or rewrite your core beliefs .
6. Identity and self-worth become linked to the company
When our sense of self becomes fused with being the owner of Company X , we are headed to a painful place. Our society feeds this tendency. Many of my conversations go like this: "Hey Chad, how's business going?" I think the people have good intentions and care about me, but this pattern starts training me to think, "I am Chad, and my identity is found in my business." I have seen people with both successful and failing businesses who have lost themselves, because their self worth and identity was tied to their business.
Whether or not you are an entrepreneur, you may experience many of the same struggles and emotions in your career that I have. I encourage you to reflect on your relationship with your work. You have inherent worth as an individual. As a life coach, I will give you the support you deserve.