The thoughts are always there. You need another client, what happens if this client terminates the contract, your business is in debt, OPT, H-1B, and residency.
Alejandro and I face these nagging stressors daily. Although the items are different between us we both have obstacles, fears, and unknowns which are constantly in the back of our minds. You are the same. Perhaps it’s the cutbacks at work, not having a job, being unclear of what you want to do in your career, or more personal.
How should you proceed? Focusing solely on the noise in the background is paralyzing. The negativity can be overwhelming.
Going after your goals and becoming your ideal professional self presents more issues than one could imagine. Just going with the flow and doing what’s comfortable is rather simple. Resistance begins when you start to push yourself to new levels of achievements.
Think of the above example. For Alejandro, a simple solution to the OPT, H-1B, and residency problems is to find a job in South America where it’s easier to travel because he is Venezuelan. But wait! He did not come to the United States to attain an MBA, network, and take leadership positions to simply take an easy route.
On my end, being a business owner means I am always thinking about current and potential clients. There’s an easy fix, find a “traditional” job. I have a robust resume and could likely find a job within a few weeks or months. Yet, that would be settling for a life I don’t want.
The point is we all can take the easy path which is comfortable. The challenge is to move beyond the comfort and push back the noise. It is easier said than done. Yet, we do have some insights. Here is how Alejandro and I handle those stressors.
Don't Give In
“Resistance is always lying and always full of s***.” ― Steven Pressfield, The War of Art
I have read The War of Art multiple times in the past 3-months. I keep coming back to the book as resistance continues to appear. For each step I take forward, it feels like I am getting pushed back by the world.
My business looks like it’s doing well, then a client says our engagement is over. I secure multiple verbal contracts, and then I wait for them to be finalized. Moving toward my goals becomes a constant uphill battle.
Negativity seems to be rampant in many businesses. This negativity has become the resistance which is consistently in the background and one which can overtake my thoughts. The key is to not give into the noise. I do this by setting up support systems all around me. This is what it looks like.
- Faith: my beliefs guide my entire life and are necessary to have a strong foundation in everything I do.
- Family: my wife and parents are the people I vent to weekly. We are all human, and I won’t say you should stop complaining. Instead, do it wisely. Unload your issues on people you trust, not people who will use what you say against you.
- Friends: my inner circle of friends are trusted advisers. They are all A-players and go through similar struggles. Together we listen to each other and are there when needed.
I cannot imagine another way to navigate the current professional landscape. Many businesses are treating their employees worse each year, industries are increasingly competitive, and the United States’ culture is divisive. We all face resistance which is hovering over us at all times.
Giving into to resistance is easy. Pushing back is difficult. Surround yourself with a support system who will help you. One day you will look around and realize you are standing with others who share your thoughts, values, and determination.
The struggle never ends!
The sooner you make your peace with this the easier it will be.
Even if you take what you would consider “the easy way out” you will still encounter obstacles. So, it makes sense to at least face challenges in order to reach your dreams instead of just settling.
We are always thinking that everything will be OK once we finish “x”.
Once I graduate……
Once I get the promotion…..
Once I finish the project….
Life is now! Is it not in the future, and there will always be challenges.
The big elephant in the room, for international students, is the visa sponsorship. It has become almost like how Voldemort was in the Harry Potter books. Nobody wants to mention it, yet it is a reality.
There will always be some process we have to go through. Applying for the MBA was a challenge, and probably at that point, everyone was thinking that everything would be OK once they finished the application.
Then once you get the acceptance letter another process starts, and more challenges arise.
Take a look back. You probably thought you would feel you’ve made it once you graduated high school. Then you had college. Then getting your first job. Then a master’s degree.
Do you see the pattern already?
The challenges will always be there. It may sound repetitive but the best way to power through these challenges is to have a strong purpose.
Yet, there is an actionable step that you can take that will help you cut through the noise when you are struggling with finding the energy to take action.
We all go through these ups and downs. Nobody is always positive. The difference is the great performers know how to get out of a funk quicker than everyone else.
Great performers know how to influence themselves and create an environment that will empower them to create value.
One thing great performers are very bad at doing is at celebrating. Especially celebrating the “small wins”.
Maybe you just received an email with great feedback or a thank you note. Maybe you just got accepted into a master’s program.
Great performers may think “well this was expected of me”, and not think it is a win. Well, we are wrong! We have to celebrate each moment because those small moments are all we have. That “big win” we see at the end of the tunnel will become “just another small win” once we get close to it.
It’s all about perspective.
To solve this perspective problem I’ve been using the “Jar of Awesome” technique Tim Ferriss shared. It basically means any time you have a small win you are going to write it on a piece of paper and put it into the Jar of Awesome. That way anytime you are feeling down, or in a funk, you can go to the jar and read a couple of those papers that will remind you of some of your wins.
Stress is going to be part of your life whether you like it or not.
In fact, stress can actually be good depending on how you react to it. At first, we may have negative reactions to stress but we can train ourselves to have the reaction we desire in front of it.
It will take time, it will take dedication, and it won’t be easy… but I can assure you that it will be worth it!
Yes, you have to have big goals and dreams that make the whole journey worth it. But while you are traveling that route don’t forget to celebrate the small wins. The joy is in the journey.
Finding your purpose can be a great first step to learn how to react positively to stress. This e-guide can help you find your purpose so that you can start embracing the struggle and taking action to achieve your professional dreams.
We’ve found another great source of energy is actually being vulnerable. Sharing with like-minded people can actually help you get rid of some of that burden that stress has been creating.
If you want to share and be part of our like-minded community be sure to join us on social media.
Alejandro I. Sanoja & Matt Avery