Handling Stress: the missed rung on the career ladder

’The struggle doesn’t get easier, what improves is the way you handle the stresses’

I heard this during an event a couple of weeks ago, and it’s still stuck in my head. When you’re running your own business, everything depends on you. It’s on you to be on time, to get things done and to be move forward.

After a while you get used to the pressure, but the situations don’t change. There will still be those projects that seem perpetually doomed, or those people that are difficult to handle. Whatever it is, there’ll always be something you have to struggle with. Honestly, it was a relief to hear other people say that. If you haven’t heard it, I’m saying it now: it’s not just you, the struggle continues for everyone.

So it seems logical that if the situations don’t improve, then you have to. And this means getting a handle on the stress.

Does anyone else feel like stress is a bit of a taboo topic? It’s like no one wants to admit that they’re stressed (unless it’s meant in a superficial way) in case people stop trusting them with work. I don’t know, maybe that’s just my experience. But the point is that stress really does exist, and it can be really damaging, so you have to get a hold of it.

There are a million articles and posts and ideas on dealing with stress, from breathing exercises to time-blocking. All of these work, but they aren’t fully applicable to a business.

A designer was explaining that the situations don’t change but the bills just get bigger. He has to make, say, three suits by the end of the month. That means buying a large quantity of fabric, but he can’t pay for the fabric until he gets paid for the suits, which will be at the end of the month… and so the catch 22 goes on. These are regular, unavoidable situations that he has to handle. He can’t do anything to change the situation, so he has to chance the way he handles them.

It’s the same for filmmakers. You have to make a living, but you can’t pay yourself until you make the film, which involves doing a lot of work to get to a point that you’re ready to shoot. I hate to break it to you, but that situation won’t change. It’s the way you handle it that’s important.

Sadly there’s not a ‘one size fits all’ way to deal with it. If money is your main stressor, then automatically saving money every week or month will really help (Moneybox is my fav for this). If time is your main stressor, then time-blocking on your calendar might do the trick.

Those situations that you’re dealing with right now aren’t ever going to change, so you need to start figuring out a way to deal with them that doesn’t involve you tearing your hair out or chewing your fingernails to shreds.


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