Anxiety in business exists, and it’s real! It doesn’t mean that you can’t or don’t want to do your job.
You may be feeling unmotivated or lazy because you feel like you can’t do something. Working harder won’t help. Working longer won’t make it go away. Until you develop alternative coping skills it will not get better.
What’s the Anxiety About?
I’ll bet you care an awful lot about what you do. You probably spent a lot of time learning and growing in your profession. It might define who you are. Understand your work is not who you are . It’s what you do.
When we care a lot about something, we have a certain standard about how we want to do it. When we feel we can’t do it the way we think it should be done, anxiety sets in.
The cycle is perpetuated. You are anxious about not doing a good job so you put more time and energy in. When you still can’t do your job the way you want to, you become more anxious. It’s a vicious cycle.
Anxiety #1 – Leadership
Whether you own your own company or you work for someone else you may be leading other people. This is a tough role for many people in business. There are still many organizations where the ‘old school’ style of leading still exists – “I am at the top so just do what I say.”
We are not born to lead. Many times, it’s bestowed on us because we did things right in our role and are moving up the ladder. The challenge is, while you might be a great salesperson, that doesn’t mean you have the skills to be a leader. What ends up happening is that you find yourself in a leadership position without having ever been a leader and without the skills necessary to lead. You may take a few classes on how to lead people but not enough to actually do it effectively.
Managing people is an art, and in order to do it right (for them and for you) you need to develop some skills. Dealing with anxiety is one of them but there are some other key leadership skills:
- Take the time to understand people;
- Learn how to communicate effectively;
- Set clear goals and work towards those goals – for ourselves and for the people we manage; and
- Be genuine and authentic in the workplace.
Anxiety #2 – Public Speaking
When we have to get up in front of a bunch of people, our brain wants to shut down. I’ve been there. “What will people think? How coherent is my presentation?” You may become overwhelmed with so many thoughts about how others might feel about you and what you are about to say. Your confidence drops.
When you think this way you’re focusing on the wrong thing. You are fixated on what others think about you, and it clouds your ability to speak and present.
Going over and over what you want to say won’t be helpful. When I used to memorize my presentations, it was a hot mess. Then I learned to trust myself and realized that I didn’t have to memorize what I was going to say. As a keynote speaker, I learned to be present, and the process became much more pleasant. I was able to be creative and flexible.
Learn to understand and focus on the right things, and you’ll make magic. Focus on yourself, not the audience. Don’t overthink what you are going to say. Stay in the present, and let it happen!
Anxiety #3 – Getting Things Done
When you have a lot to do it can create mental chaos. “OMG! My task list for today has 100 things on it.” I don’t know about you but for me, I feel overwhelmed just writing that sentence. You can have a list of 100 things to do, but you can’t focus on all of them at once.
What do you do? Don’t focus on everything at once. You choose one task, and work on it. I suggest ordering them by priority. Choose one, be present with it (no multitasking), and then move on to the next one.
Another problem with task lists is that they are generally made up of end goals or final projects. Those tasks need to be broken down into smaller chunks. Think, “Today I am going to write the outline of my blog, tomorrow I am going to write the first draft, and then tomorrow I will make edits.”
We often think we need to spend hours or the entire day on a task without a break. Ha! Around an hour your brain starts wandering. You get distracted by emails, phone calls, and text messages. . That’s because your brain needs consistent breaks, and you should get in the habit of taking them. What you do during your breaks is up to you, but try to give your brain a break. When you come back to work mode your brain will be ready to do the job. Honestly you’ll feel better and be able to work more effectively.
Learn to work smarter and not harder. Develop the skills to take you to the next level and put you in a growth mindset. Learning and growing don’t stop after you’ve completed your education. Stay curious about what you can do differently to make life better for yourself.