When Anxiety Is High, Watch Your Decisions
Over the past week Bill and I watched while the largest hurricane in all of recorded history came toward Florida. It eventually turned toward Florida’s Gulf Coast (where we live) and started its slow burn into Florida. Almost the entire week before Irma, everyone around us had to prep. Anxiety was high. We knew our home could be a total loss. To say that the last 10 days or so have been nerve wracking is an understatement. In the end, our home missed getting flooded from the storm surge by only about a foot.
When the citizens of Florida began to realize that they were going to have to face Hurricane Irma, we saw many examples of letting anxiety overcome common sense and the advice of knowledgeable others.
- People decided to stay put in mobile homes. Their anxiety about losing their home was stronger than their common sense, even after hearing the mandatory evacuation orders that all those living in mobile homes must leave.
- Some people actually decided to jump into their vehicle and evacuate once the storm actually began, because their anxiety over the storm became too high once the winds and rain began (even though it was widely known that the gas stations along the highways were empty of fuel). When the winds begin to howl, anxiety runs high and fight or flight takes over.
- After the storm, people began to immediately head back to Florida, even though more than 67% of the state had no power, the fuel tankers were not yet able to refuel the gas stations that were already empty from the evacuation, and there were more than 4 million Floridians who had to drive those roads home. Why could they not wait a few more days? Because they were acting out of anxiety rather than using their common sense or listening to knowledgeable advice.
Anxiety Is Not a Business Model
The same thing happens in business. Business owners run their businesses based on anxiety. You see it all the time, and perhaps you have done it yourself!
- A solo business owner is not making enough money yet continues to undercharge for her services – her anxiety about losing potential business from “charging too much” is higher than her common sense telling her that her business is failing to sustain her.
- An entrepreneur has every credential in the book, but no clients. Why? Because her anxiety about marketing and being rejected is higher than her desire to actually be successful in her business.
You get the idea – I’m betting you can think of other stories where a person’s anxiety shuts down their common sense. How about women who feel a lump in their breast but don’t go to the doctor because they are afraid of what might be found?
How to Manage Anxiety In Life and Business
Here’s the deal – it’s our responsibility to ourselves to monitor our anxiety and throw some cold water on it when it starts to dictate our actions. Bill and I sat in a friend’s home in New York, watching Irma come closer and closer to our home. The next morning, every instinct I had was to leave right then and get home to see what had happened. Except – it was not instinct, it was anxiety. The prospect of losing everything you own to a hurricane and not have a place to live at all for maybe a year produces a LOT of anxiety. Still, we had to talk ourselves down off the high wire and remind ourselves that our plan to stay gone for 10 days was solid – even if we went back, we could do nothing. At that time there was no power, no workers to help us, no fuel in the gas stations, no building supplies to be found. It made no sense for us to try to get home (there were no open airports anyway). It was our responsibility to do three things:
- Recognize that anxiety was rising up
- Replace anxiety with calmness
- Act from a reasoned, rational place and a calm mind.
When you want to take an action “no matter what” it’s usually your anxiety talking, not your firm conviction. As business owners (well, really, as mature humans) we are responsible for keeping our anxieties at bay. This has nothing to do with academic degrees – it has to do with emotional maturity and the ability to calm ourselves when we get anxious.
If you are taking an action solely to feed your anxiety you’re probably making a big mistake. Rule of thumb? Take a breath before a hasty action and check in with yourself.
Acting out of a calm mind will always get you farther than acting out of anxiety. If you need help with that, consider working with me for an hour or two. You can go to https://confidentmarketer.com/oneanddone to set up a time, and find ways to make your business decisions from calmness and clarity, not anxiety.