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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Entrepreneur Smentrepreneur - The joys of being an entrepreneur?

Why would anyone want to be an entrepreneur?  It can bring high financial risk.  It means giving up a part of your life to work more (not always, but many times)... and not get paid.  It puts your reputation on the line.  It forces you to put your whole self out there and risk rejection.  The highs and lows can be extreme.  There is typically no training, per se.  There can be a lot of loneliness.  It is highly responsible and difficult to implement accountability systems.  It is easy to spin around in circles, working all day and all night and not going anywhere.

It is easy to get lost.  It is not uncommon for entrepreneurs to experience depression and anxiety (See this article: The Psychological Price of Entrepreneurship).

But entrepreneurs usually have a difficult time turning away from this pull towards running their own business.  Sometimes it begins with wanting to be your own boss... or wanting to put your skills to use because in your job they are under valued... or from burnout from working too much for someone else... or because you have an amazing idea.... or because you believe if you are working at something you truly love, you will be happier.

But the truth is, entrepreneurs are called.

There is something deep down that pulls us toward wanting to help.  To serve.  To create.  To solve problems for others.

My husband does not have that calling.  My Mom does not have that calling.  My Dad did.  I do.  Call us crazy, but we need to satisfy this calling somehow or we feel like there is a piece of us missing. Those that do not have the calling don't seem to 'get it'.

Entrepreneurship can be viewed with a slanted perspective.  We have to put our best face forward, which feels like a big lie when we are not making money or we are experiencing mental health challenges.  The general public may see an entrepreneur as successful, courageous... even wealthy. Yet, many are not any of those things, and the "faking it 'til you make it" attitude makes it difficult to talk about the real challenges.

Entrepreneurs experience higher levels of stress than employees, according to Gallup-Healthways WellBeing Index.  And it seems from research I have been conducting, that although entrepreneurs typically demonstrate traits of motivation, passion, and creativity, they are also more likely to have strong emotional states, which can lead to mental wellness challenges.

This makes sense to me.  I see my own emotions rise and fall to extremes, I have experienced curled up on the couch depression, and I can be too passionate about things I'm passionate about.  I have seen the same in other entrepreneurs.  However, through my mindfulness-based emotional intelligence practice, I have learned how to manage the emotions that go along with owning a business.  I've learned how to use my emotions to fuel action with compassion.  I'm far from perfect, and my business is still in the beginning stages of growth, but through my practice, I've learned acceptance, surrender, and peace with where I am.  I make the choices I need to make while also building my business.

I had months of loneliness when I felt completely unsupported.  I reached out in many different directions - to other business groups, other entrepreneurs, counsellors, coaches, wellness practitioners - but nothing worked at the time.  I needed mind fitness.

Thankfully, I had the skills to do this for myself.  I teach mind fitness through yoga, meditation, mindfulness, and coaching.  Interestingly, I felt like a complete fraud during those years because I was not feeling very fit in the mind myself, so who was I to help others?  So I took a break from many of my programs and services.  I distanced myself from the business community.  And I took care of myself.

I healed.  Not everyone would be able to do this in the way I did.  I DID have support.  From my husband and oldest daughter.  They picked up a lot of slack during those years.  And I'm forever grateful for that.

Because I have gone through this process (along with other entrepreneurial experiences), I have a deeper understanding of what entrepreneurs go through on an emotional level.  Hence, I have designed a program called (Re)Create Your Vision for other entrepreneurs to feel supported, aligned, and to learn techniques that will help them manage their emotions and develop the mind fitness needed for entrepreneurship.

True, many entrepreneurs don't make it in business and have to return to a job - or start another business.  My business has warped and evolved over time, and I have shut down a past business. Maybe I will need to return to a job someday.  And I would if I had to in order to feed my children or pay the bills - or if it was the right opportunity at the time.  I've learned that what may seem like failure to some is actually a step towards greater success.  That said, I feel truly grateful to have the opportunity to be an entrepreneur right now.

Regardless of whether an entrepreneur will make it in the future or not, mind fitness is a requirement for a healthy entrepreneur and for the opportunity for success.  Businesses fail and shut down for all kinds of reasons.  When we have a solid foundation, we can handle the failures and challenges of business and move on from them in a healthy way.  When we do not have the mental and emotional fitness needed, failure can bring us down into a deep, dark hole.  Even when we do practice methods for perceiving failure in a more positive light, it can still shake us.

The good news is that there are tools available to help entrepreneurs find stability and mental wellness in order to accept the ups and downs and in betweens without them shaking us to the core. We CAN be healthy and run a business.  We CAN have a life outside work.

It takes practice.  It takes support.  It sometimes takes a shift in perception.  It takes a willingness to be open about the truth.

For more information about (Re)Create Your Vision or to register, connect with me at tina@pomroy.ca.

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