Playing a bad hand

October 26th, 2020

These times have everyone on edge. Emotions are charged to fatigue. Over the past months of the pandemic, I’ve ridden the roller coaster as much as anyone else.

Some recurring issues have come up. Over a few months, I’ve been able to identify the source of each stress point and a basic remedy that works for me.

I’ll add to this list as I discover more.

When feeling anxious about something
Prepare more. Any acute anxiety I've experienced has usually been tied to an upcoming event, or achieving a milestone. If I'm really anxious about it, it means I'm just not as prepared as I should be.

When feeling depressed
Talk to someone new. Ideally someone I've never met, or haven't spoken to in a while. These conversations usually rekindle my imagination and, well, hope.

When feeling stuck
Read a book. I've found holistic business books (things like Competing for the Future) to be very helpful. If I'm feeling stuck on a particular function, I may read a book that focuses on it, but I also get a lot of value out of the general business strategy books. They become the catalyst for thinking about things from a different angle, which "unsticks" me.

When feeling overwhelmed
Write it out in a journal. Similar to my tip on dealing with anxiety, the simple process of writing it out takes its power away. When it's down on paper, it's not stuck in my head anymore, which frees me up to think about something else.

When burned out*
Take an extended period off (minimum 2 weeks) with no agenda. I haven't done this yet, but I feel it coming. I haven't taken true time off since my honeymoon in 2012. It's good for me, and the company, to notice when burnout is approaching, and set up a system to be able to take the time without being a disruption.

*Difference between burnout and depression:

  • Burnout means you don’t care if business is going well, or not.
  • Depression means you don’t care if anything is going well, or not.

Note to self: If you’re still getting excited about -something- in your life, you’re probably just burned out.