Ever Heard of the Self-Employment Roller Coaster? How Do You Deal With it?

It’s January. The month when you doubt all your life choices. The month when just about everything looks impossible. The month when you wonder if you should give up and get a real job. As if entrepreneurship isn’t a real job. As if you don’t work your fingers to the bone. As if hustle isn’t the norm. Imagine. Working for yourself requires a certain kind of grit. Everyone who works for themselves struggles with doubt. Every single one of us. Those who say they don’t, are lying. Or fronting. Even me. And every time I get through this I look back wondering what the fuss was all about. Without fail. Experience has taught me not to make permanent decisions when you’re temporarily anxious. It’s like you have to let the wave crash over you knowing that the seas will calm eventually. It amazes me that the struggle is as intense now as it was in the beginning. You’d think that years of experience would allay the fears. It doesn’t. I’m not sure that the questions ever really get answered. Life just stabilises again and carries on.

If you’re not self-employed, ask your friends who are about the roller coaster. I bet you won’t even have to explain what that means, they’ll be intimately acquainted with it. The roller coaster is rooted in fear. You may know this cognitively, but that doesn’t mean that you’re able to just shelve the fear. After all, fear is irrational. The roller coaster can be caused by:

  • Fear of failure, especially financially.

  • Fear of success.

  • Fear of being mediocre.

  • Doubting your skills and abilities.

  • Pandering to other people’s expectations.

  • Issues with staff or client relationships.

  • Feeling lonely in business.

  • Imposter syndrome – more on that here: Psychology Today - Imposter Syndrome

  • Fear of stagnation.

  • Wondering whether you’re still on the right track.

  • Generally being in your own head.

I don’t have all the answers. Frankly, it doesn’t feel like I have any answers. But if you can relate to this, I want you to know that you’re not alone. There are many who share your fears and frustrations.

I would be remiss if I left it here though. There can be peace in the midst of confusion and calamity. Oh, how I love to exaggerate, but I remember moments in the past where my situation has felt calamitous, and I know many others share this sentiment. These are a few things that keep me sane. It’s by no means a formula. Everyone is different, but this is what I’ve found helpful in the past:

  • Prayer and meditation – because leaving it in God’s hands has been a huge stress reliever for me. I also find that I’m a better person when I meditate regularly, much less anxious and short-tempered.

  • Taking time out – when I’m in my own head, one of the best things for me to do is to physically step away from my routine. Catching up with a friend over coffee works wonders. It’s a good reminder that life hasn’t come to a complete standstill, even though it often feels like it has.

  • Being creative – spending time doing creative pursuits that are not related to my work has been such a great way of letting go. Sometimes I doodle, sometimes I paint. I don’t feel like I’m very good at it, but that’s not what it’s about. Expending creative energy just for the sake of it is quite therapeutic.

  • Exercise – moving the body regularly releases endorphins and moves the mind in the process. This article expands on that – 13 Mental Health Benefits of Exercise.

Does this resonate with you? I’d love to hear how you’ve kept the monsters at bay. Just remember, be kind to yourself, entrepreneurship is a marathon, not a sprint.

Until next time,


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