Tools for adapting in the face of adversity, strategy, and significant sources of stress.
Ever since I was young I always wanted to start something for myself.
I watched my father run his urban planning & design firm and started loving the idea of creating an entire business out of nothing.
I learned quickly that starting a business is one of the hardest things you can ever do. It took me through an emotional roller coaster and made me want to quit multiple times.
I lacked mental resiliency which is something that is needed when starting a business.
The American Psychological Association (2014) defines Mental Resilience as:
“The process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or even significant sources of stress.”
In the past, this definition didn’t describe me at all. I used to try out a lot of things but quit when it became hard and developed a habit of quitting.
I knew if I wanted to get anywhere I needed to fortify my mental resilience. Here’s what through the years has helped me build it up.
1. I Started viewing life as an iterative process
In your process, it’s not uncommon to deal with roadblocks that’ll demotivate to the point of wanting to quit.
Moments where it might seem that all the time and effort you’ve invested was for nothing.
It’s at times like these that your mental resiliency is tested the most and it’s when I remembered one of the most important lessons I had learned studying architecture.
“…Design is an iterative process…”
It’s rare in life for things to go exactly as planned so personally, it made more sense to look at the journey of achieving my goals as an iterative process.
Nothing is done in vain. The idea that didn’t work might lead to the next that will.
The moment I let go of the notion that success is a linear path and started seeing pivoting in other directions as a skill that is necessary to succeed, failures and roadblocks started to feel less intense.
I started to see them as stepping stones to reach my goals.
2.I practiced putting my situation in perspective
I believe that the start-up phase is the most emotionally taxing as an entrepreneur.
During that time I have been in multiple situations where I thought I’d lose my business and have to start over.
As someone that used to overthink everything and panic a lot, it was a very hard situation to deal with.
This all changed when I met up with a friend of mine that was going through a rough patch but for some reason, it looked like he had such an easier time coping with it than I had.
I would ask him why that was and he said:
“…I’m still alive, I have a roof over my head, and if my business fails I can just start another one…”
It’s a simple thing but often we forget to put our situation in perspective after a crisis happens.
Now I have added it to my daily routine.
I have noticed when I put my situation in perspective I experience a lot less stress and it’s easier to make tough decisions because the consequences don’t seem that grave.
3.I stopped judging myself too harshly
In the past, I have often been hard on myself purely because I wasn’t at the point I thought I should be in life.
While I think it sometimes is necessary to be hard at yourself the reason why is very important.
As an entrepreneur, you’re already dealing with a lot of pressure the last thing you should do is add more things that contribute to mental fatigue.
I had to learn that it’s normal to make mistakes and that everyone makes them.
Beating yourself up over every little mistake is unhealthy and often counterproductive.
The energy spent on judging yourself can be used on so many other things.