Stress: How Much is Too Much?

Building and launching a business requires focus, determination and stamina—there’s a reason people say it’s like a full-time job. When you’re preparing to make the entrepreneurial leap, it’s an exhilarating time. But what if it doesn’t feel that way? What if you’re so preoccupied by stress that you can’t focus on planning? While you don’t want to put your entrepreneurial goals on hold forever, there are times when it’s useful to take a step back and consider the timing of it all.

Whether you’re feeling a general lack of balance or well-being in your daily routine or grappling with tougher stuff, like health hurdles, strife within your family or relationship, or stress and anxiety, it’s important to recognize that these factors can seriously drain your focus and energy.

When I work with clients who are experiencing distractions in their personal lives, I emphasize that I’m not there to call the shots. Only they know how much they can handle. But the biggest question is, will taking on entrepreneurship in this moment alleviate stress, or will it add to it?

You don’t have to feel completely certain that you’re making the right decision. When do we ever feel 100% sure about anything? But you do have to rely on your gut to tell you whether the timing is right. You don’t want to let roadblocks stop you from pursuing what you want, but you also want to make sure that you are realistic about what you can handle as you move forward.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself to help gauge what your next steps should be.  

Determine which aspect of your life is causing you the most stress.

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As an entrepreneur, I experience so much less stress than I did when I worked for other people. I know how powerful stress is, and my goal is to help my clients eliminate stress in their lives.

If you’re trying to manage personal and professional challenges, try to determine which aspect of your life is causing the most stress. What is keeping you up at night? What do you wake up thinking about? What anxieties come crashing in when you’re sitting in traffic or waiting rooms? By identifying the root cause of your stress, you can take steps to eliminate it in a specific way.

It sounds obvious, but sometimes we don’t know where our stress is coming from, especially if we are juggling a lot in that moment. (And launching a new business is the definition of juggling a lot). Take time to determine what’s creating the most stress for you, and dial into eliminating that stressor in particular.

Think about how you have handled stressful situations in the past.

We all have a limit. Do you know yours? Usually, you can get a good sense of how much stress you can handle (or want to handle) by thinking back to previous stressful situations in your life. At what point did you get overwhelmed? How did the situations affect your life, health and relationships? Were you able to rely on supportive friends, colleagues, or family members?

There’s no right or wrong answer here. While some people have a high threshold, most people want to reduce the amount of stress they willingly invite into their lives. That sometimes means adjusting your plan for launching your business. Rather than piling additional stress onto an already overwhelming situation, think about how tweaking the timeline can actually benefit you.

Consider whether entrepreneurship will ultimately alleviate or add to your stress.

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When I launched my business, I had already been managing my chronic illness for years, but entrepreneurship allowed me to live a more healthy and balanced lifestyle. The most stressful part of my life was made easier through entrepreneurship. From scheduling my yearly trip to the National Institute of Health to fitting in time for regular yoga and self-care, managing my health became less daunting once my schedule was my own. In my case, starting my business when I did was the right decision.

Every situation has its own complexities and differences. If you determine that transitioning to entrepreneurship at this moment will ultimately make your stress worse, then it’s time to adjust the plan and prioritize the challenges in your personal life. Your business will be there when you are ready. When that time comes, you can navigate the new challenges confidently without added outside stress--and most importantly, you’ll be able to truly enjoy your successes.