learn to prevent the despair of entrepreneurship depression
As I sit here writing this, I’m coming out of a recent dark time of feeling depressed within entrepreneurship. I felt the darkness come over me the night before and all the next morning. I patiently waited for it to cease, and followed a series of questions of introspection I ask often myself when this comes over me.
In this article, I will dive deeper into these questions and tips to quickly feel the feelings and come out of the feeling into abundance.
I’m experienced in these feelings, a veteran, most of the Empire Life teammates are as well.
From growing up in a rough neighborhood, to playing competitive sports through college, to starting my first business on the playground at 7 years old (then landing in the Principal’s office quite a few times afterwards & continuing my business through high school), to moving to another country alone at 19 years old, to living aboard almost one decade, to divorcing twice and starting all over again multiple times, to raising a child solo with no child support, to supporting great clients, to starting & scaling multiple tech companies with zero investors – here’s to always leveling up…
HOW ELON MUSK DESCRIBES ENTREPRENEURSHIP
Maybe you have also felt the feeling as Elon Musk describes entrepreneurship, “Entrepreneurship is often like chewing glass and looking into the abyss.”
By no means are we at Empire Life psychologists, here in this article we are only speaking from our personal experience in being entrepreneurs, founders, moms, techies, on large tech teams, and in tech and digital marketing.
FEELING THE PAIN BRIEFLY
When these feelings come over me, I do not stuff those feelings down, bury them, or push them aside or put my nose down and work harder, these strategies do not work.
Believe me, I tried to bury my feelings in over working, over achieving, over and beyond what was needed, when what I needed was to feel them fully in order for them to pass quickly.
WHAT TO ASK YOURSELF WHEN THE LOWS COME
The first question, I often ask myself is, “What can I do right now to bring more peace, balance, stability, warmth, love, support into my heart?”
To give some ideas of what the answers are to this question above for myself and my team:
- Writing in Journal
- Short Nap
- Crying & Talking about it
Once I’ve done this, then I ask myself, “What can I do to support others in business, to bring more support, balance, stability, helpfulness to their businesses? (Give more) What can I do to move the needle forward to meet my goals?”
To give some ideas of what the answers are to this question above is:
- Create a free PDF for ideal clients
- Write a Blog Article
- Send DM’s to new connections on social media
- Answer comments on social media
- Answer emails about collaborations
- Create a new course or have a guest lecturer course created
- Reach out to potential podcast guests or ask to be a guest on a podcast
- Create meaningful, insightful, impactful content.
HOW TO SUPPORT AN ENTREPRENEUR WHEN THEY ARE IN DEPRESSION
No matter what someone says to me in those moments of despair, to be honest, it doesn’t sink in fully in the moment.
I will advise to let go of the expectation of someone truly hearing you if they are experiencing an extreme low.
They may follow your advice later once it has had time to sink in or it will probably be better to wait to give advice until they are feeling better.
For example, I might express to a friend, “Wow, I’m feeling a little down today about how a sales call went. I know everything is ok, yet I was really excited about working with that particular client. The cool thing is there are tons more ideal clients waiting to work with me. More calls coming.”
To hear them answer, “Geez, sounds like a drag, working in corporate was really that bad for you? Software developers make good money though, was it that bad, that you wanted to have your own business? I guess you enjoy taking calls…”
This is NOT supportive, and I would quickly stop telling a friend about my entrepreneurial journey if they had this response. They might be well intentioned because they want to see me feeling stable in my success instead of seeing me have ups and downs in entrepreneurship.
A few times, after talking with a close family member about the highs and lows of entrepreneurship, I have in the past received a random email to me from them saying, “Hey check out this job posting…”
Or saying, “A stable life, a life with a consistent salary isn’t so bad, right?”
Both of these imply I should, ‘QUIT’ and pursue something more ‘stable’. While these things to say are well-meaning, they do NOT feel supportive to an entrepreneur when they are in despair.
BONUS TIP TO SAY TO AN ENTREPRENEUR FEELING LOW
Also, another tip is to first, gently, kindly, and directly ask, “How can I support you right now?”
They might ONLY want you to listen and hold the space for them to cry, and to be vulnerable.
This might mean offering to go to the local store and getting them their favorite dessert or ordering Chinese food in because you want to give them a break from cooking or grabbing food to cook together if cooking is meditative for them.
This is what an ambitious entrepreneur needs to hear when they are feeling low, “I understand you feel sad right now, your head is probably racing, you work so hard, and sometimes it takes time to see the fruit of our labor.” (leave out personal advice, leave out any critical feedback or judgements)
Or, “You have a great idea and product, it will work, I can already feel the success.” (Continuously implying how much you believe in them.)
REFRAIN FROM RATIONALIZING THEIR FEELINGS
If you have not been an entrepreneur or you are one do not aim to rationalize anyone’s feelings about business in the moment.
If you have been an entrepreneur do not encourage them to ‘tough it out’.
Buried feelings come back stronger and it is unhealthy to stuff our feelings down.
We need healthy outlets for these feelings, such as the gym, writing, talking about it with a counselor, friend, or loved one, watching a funny show, running, cooking, meditating — anything that brings you ultimate joy and that serves your highest potential and self.
Remember, feelings are passing ideas, they don’t have to be permanent. It is ok and healthy to feel low sometimes and let it pass through naturally.
For myself and a lot of entrepreneurs, crying usually helps and having a community of other founders to share ideas with.
CHANGING OUR LANGUAGE AROUND DEPRESSION
Let’s change the language around depression.
Instead of saying to yourself, ‘I’m suffering from depression.’ (This feels permanent and with no solutions)
Start saying, ‘I have this feeling coming over me right now, and I will eventually be ok.’
Feelings are usually temporary, they are passing by. It is ok to feel them, at some point after felt they must be released.
Understand most of your friends and family will not understand what we are going through, especially if they have not run a business.
WHAT NOT TO SAY TO AN UPSET, SET, OR DEPRESSED ENTREPRENEUR
Everyday entrepreneurs are pushing themselves to their ULTIMATE limits. It’s uncomfortable, every day.
Being a leader, gives us a mirror for almost everything we are capable to avoid seeing if we were in a corporate job. Corporate jobs are awesome too, yet how your business goes is a complete reflection on the founder.
Also, all the errors, all the mistakes, and everything is on our shoulders, everything comes back to us. This feeling is intense. It’s scary and what often keeps entrepreneurs awake at night.
While it’s a huge responsibility, it is also a HUGE opportunity to revolutionize your industry.
If an entrepreneur says something similar to this to you, “No one sees all my hard work, I feel I’m working so hard all day and seems no one sees, or appreciates it…”
Do NOT say something similar to this, “Did you feel you met your goals today, maybe you need to set more clear goals and all you can do is meet those everyday,” (not helpful at this moment.)
Instead say something similar to this, “I’m so proud of you, you work endlessly everyday, and I admire how you are comfortable stepping outside of your comfort zone. I wish more people could work tirelessly to achieve their goals as you are. You have created your own opportunities and are guiding others in creating their own.”
HAVE A SUPPORT SYSTEM IN PLACE FOR WHEN LOWS COME – THEY WILL COME
Empire Life has a lot of places one can land softly for support – supporting female founders in the Empire Life Female Founders Club, supporting clients in one-on-one tech and digital marketing services, and seeing students go through my Empire Life Courses and Facebook Courses.
WHY ARE WE TALKING ABOUT THIS HERE
It’s embarrassing to openly admit that we feel depressed sometimes. Openly admitting I’m and a lot of my entrepreneur connections are sometimes wiped out with depression, anxiety, worry, and hopelessness, often times daily…
Quoted from the Forbes Article, summarizing depression in entrepreneurship:
‘Why You’ll Have to Confront Depression as an Entrepreneur
Whether it is before, during or after exiting a company, depression is likely to rear its head at the worst time. Yet, if you can make it through it, the silver lining can be far more rewarding than you planned.
Reasons entrepreneurs get depressed include:
- Empty successes
- Large numbers of investor rejections
- Stress and long working hours leading to burnout
- Being sabotaged by partners, staff or investors
- Being fired from your own company
- Struggles gaining and maintaining traction
The depression can be moderate and fleeting. Or it can be personally bankrupting and lead to a deep dive into bad habits, homelessness, and may take many years to recover from. Some don’t at all.’
WE WOULDN’T AND CANNOT HAVE IT ANY OTHER WAY
I see you, the ones whom have worried for your loved ones wishing they will choose a more stable life.
Wishing they will choose to be in a 9-5 job and just stop being broke, then rich, then broke again, and agonizing over their success.
Perhaps it’s inherited, PERHAPS it is dormant or fully activated in some of us, the gene of NEVER being fully satisfied to work for someone else’s dreams.
Having our contentment as a priority, and not being content unless we are creating.
It is a double edged sword, on one side we crave stability, money, success, and on the other side we are not content to pursue someone else’s dreams in working for another company besides our own.
Have you ever wished there were a cure for this gene and feeling sometimes?
It is deeply embedded into most entrepreneurs souls and this keeps us going into the wee hours of the night, keeps our companies in motion, keeps us creating and practicing our craft.
This might sound grim, yet expect to fail. And to fail GREATLY. The greatest entrepreneurs you know of, yet not limited to – Suzy Batz, Tony Robbins, Gary Vee – all of them have all failed greatly, and many times, before reaching a high level of success.
Failing is part of the process and teaches us the most important lessons to succeed and to have the potential to later mentor those less far on the entrepreneurship path.
It is imperative to be in a support system of founders who have also failed, gotten back up and understand the ropes, the trials and the road to success, and fully grasp how to gently aide you to be on your unique road to success.
SUPPORT SYSTEM OF GROWTH MINDED PEOPLE
I experience sheer joy when supporting female founders in the Empire Life Female Founders Club, supporting clients in one-on-one tech and digital marketing services, and seeing students go through my Empire Life Courses and Facebook Courses. It gives back to me as much as I give to it, continue to spend your time with growth minded people in courses, groups, masterclass, and more.
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