By Jessica Thiefels
On average, entrepreneurs face more anxiety than other professionals, with 45 percent of surveyed business owners reporting stress — three percentage points more than traditional workers. There are moments in all entrepreneurial careers when both motivation and creativity are running on full speed, but there are also times when you feel uninspired, overextended, disengaged, or ready to call it quits.
When these difficult seasons occur, you need to leverage inner contentment and enjoyment to remind yourself why this passion matters in the first place. These ideas can help you reclaim your joy of running the business when burnout and stress bring you down.
Find reasons to express gratitude
In the midst of daily operations, it’s easy to feel trapped beneath the weight of project deadlines, customer relations, staff meetings, financial decisions, marketing quotas, and other commitments. That sense of heaviness can distract you from taking into account all the qualities of the business that you appreciate. That’s why it’s helpful to establish a routine of gratitude. Practicing gratitude can reduce the stress hormone cortisol by 23 percent, according to Robert A. Emmons, professor of psychology at UC Davis.
An authority on the science of gratitude, Emmons confirms “gratitude blocks toxic emotions such as envy, resentment, regret, and depression which can destroy our happiness.” Maintaining a thankful attitude for your business, even during the hectic periods, allows you to remain grounded in the present rather than worry about the future.
Find joy: To cultivate this mindset, when something goes wrong, author and success coach Jen Sincero suggests in her book “You Are a Badass,” finishing the phrase, “This is good because.” It helps you understand there are so many things to be grateful for, even if we aren’t happy about the situation or challenge.
Look for meaningful areas of impact
Being conscious of how your business is impacting lives is critical to remaining fulfilled, appreciative, and content despite the hardships you might encounter. Focus on the people who benefit from the work you’re doing or the social issues, causes, or altruistic initiatives that are addressed as a result of your mission. The more you realign with that purpose, the more refreshed you will become.
“As a student housing operator, we have a unique opportunity to impact various collegiate journeys. When students choose to live at our properties, they’re placing faith in us to provide the ‘base of operations’ to empower their success, both academically and socially, as they navigate one of the most influential periods in their lives. It’s humbling to recognize that our work can have an impact on so many young adults, and this recognition fuels a passion to cultivate the brightest journey possible for our students,” says Steve Furst, Director of Operations for EPOCH.
Find joy: Write down the many ways you and your business are making an impact, even if it’s providing a job for a new mom who’s just started her family. You’re making a difference; you just have to remember how.
Learn new skills
When the brain is immersed in learning new information or mastering different areas, you don’t have time to dwell on stressors. The pursuit of further education can make you happier, according to European psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi who described the connection between education and happiness as a state of flow.
“A close companion of learning is the degree of engagement people have with tasks that provide them knowledge and fulfillment. People who are intensely absorbed in a task can lose track of time and place. Hours pass like minutes. They might be tired by the task but emerge energized and happy,” summarized a U.S. News and World Report.
Find joy: You don’t have to go back to school to learn something new. Pick up a nonfiction book or sign up for an online course. Better yet, connect with someone in your organization or network whose work doesn’t often overlap with yours and learn more about what they’re doing.
Give yourself a pat on the back
Positive reinforcement is not indulgent or egocentric — it’s necessary for both wellness and happiness. Even rewarding yourself with something as simple as a night to watch your favorite Netflix series to celebrate a recent success.
“I believe in rewarding myself because I have earned that time and I’m not taking anything away from anyone. Great ideas come from a clear mind, and a clear mind can only come from working hard and taking the time to enjoy it afterward,” said Giles Cadman, founder and chairman of the Cadman Capital Group.
Find joy: Choose one thing to reward yourself for each week — even if it’s as simple as connecting with a new potential board member. The more you make this a part of your regular life, the more you’ll benefit.
Find joy in your business
The ebb and flow of your business doesn’t need to affect your mood. In those seasons, when you question if the efforts are noticeable or the impacts are worthwhile, you can still find happiness outside the present circumstances. Focus on being intentional about gratitude and rewarding yourself, and recalibrate your focus on what drives your passion. You’ll be a happier and more successful business owner for it.
Jessica Thiefels is founder and CEO of Jessica Thiefels Consulting, a content marketing agency. She’s been writing for more than 10 years and has been featured in top publications like Forbes and Business2Community. She also regularly contributes to Virgin, Business Insider, Glassdoor, Score.org, and more. Follow her on Twitter @JThiefels and connect with her on LinkedIn.