“Let no feeling of discouragement prey upon you, and in the end you are sure to succeed.” –Abraham Lincoln
I have a confession to make, I did not plan my week out as well as I normally like to. If you’re thinking this issue of ‘Inside Look’ is late this week, you are right. I am sitting here typing away at 7:54 AM on Friday hoping I get this finished, submitted, and approved by my amazing compliance department so I can continue my goal of getting this out to you every single week. Between this newsletter, helping out my amazing clients, and taking my latest professional certification test (yes, I passed and I’m one step closer to putting some letters behind my name) I’m freaking out a little bit trying to get everything I want finished to be done this week. You know what? That’s ok! There have been people in my support systems that have let me know all week that it will be OK, and they were right!
Being ‘OK’ with freaking out has been a theme this week both for me and my clients. I think it is not in vogue to say we currently having problems in this world. It seems that we are supposed to put on a facade that our lives are perfect all the time.
Earlier this week, I was talking about this with one of my clients, Michelle. She is an amazing business owner but, like many business owners, she came to be an entrepreneur by having a passion for her career and turning it into a business. What this means is that the actual process of running a business, like HR issues, cost projections, invoicing, etc. is that part of what we, as entrepreneurs, deal with for the love of what we do.
I love helping my clients not deal with account opening paperwork! We don’t run a business because we want to deal with benefits decisions, interviewing, and regulatory agencies. Michelle mentioned that she recently had “freaked out” because of some recent cash flow issues in running her business. She leaned on her mentor, who has experience in running multiple businesses, that talked her through it. She shared her own experiences and reminded Michelle that this is all part of the process. It helped Michelle not “freak out” and get back to the focus of running her business!
As I was studying for my test this week, I was freaking out a bit. I rescheduled a few things, like writing this, so that I could be sure I passed. The material was generally familiar to me, although the IRC section 303 stock redemption was new and a somewhat confusing topic. I consider myself a really good standardized test taker. Despite all of this, there is always that moment of doubt you have. Will this finally be the test I don’t pass?
In this case, my wife talked me through it. Reminding me that I do actually practice some of what was on the test in my everyday life. Pointing out that she’s seen me pass many tests already and that I needed to relax. I did just that, closed my computer for the evening, and read non-study related material. I calmed down and went into the test the next day and knew I had passed the test even before I hit submit. This was before they had even posted the pass/fail grade on the screen.
I know many people that work with professional therapists and psychologists. Having a professional to talk to can certainly be beneficial to not “freak out”. We may have spouses, friends, or loved ones we can talk to, but sometimes it can be helpful to have a professional to talk to. Some conversations are easier and more productive with a third party. Having that support system in place can be hugely valuable.
While it is OK to freak out, you want to avoid making decisions in “freak out mode”. While we can’t entirely avoid making decisions under stress, we want to minimize it as much as possible. I know I have often made some of my worst decisions while under stress, it clouds my thinking. There is a saying that I love, “You need to dig your well before you’re thirsty,” I think it really applies here. You need to build your anti-panic support system before you need it. You can’t find a mentor, coach, or psychologist at the drop of a hat. It can take days, weeks, months, or even years to find the right one for you.
I like to be a part of my client’s freak out protection team. My value comes from keeping them off the land mines out in the world rather than from trying to beat the market. Whether it’s Brexit, the December 2018 drop in the markets, or the most recent scare, Coronavirus, I work with my clients so they don’t make any panic moves and step on one of those land mines. We work to create a plan with clear minds ahead of time and I expect them to call if something is worrying them. Through education and experience, I can provide insight that can be a calming influence.
In today’s “always-on” world with a never-ending stream of information and the news mentality of “if it bleeds it leads”, we have a never-ending selection of things to freak out about. It is said, in an article from the BBC, that in the course of a day, the average person in a Western city is said to be exposed to as much data as someone in the 15th century would encounter in their entire life.
It is OK to freak out! It is a part of being a human in the modern world. Just try to make sure you are doing everything you can to prepare for that moment ahead of time!