How to Push Past Entrepreneurship Depression Syndrome

In case you’re wondering, I’m not sure “entrepreneurship depression syndrome” is an official phrase used in the medical community. It’s certainly a very real thing all entrepreneurs go through. Some on a regular basis.

The real trouble with depression, from an entrepreneurial standpoint, is that it does absolutely nothing to push your career forward. A select few can draw motivation from depressive thoughts. However, in my experience, most who’re depressed suffer from reduced productivity and are way more prone to making bad, impulsive decisions.

depression affects entrepreneurs worldwide

I’ve dealt with a few episodes since 2009 and can tell you I definitely understand what brought you here today. Perhaps not your individual circumstances, but definitely how it can freeze you in your tracks. Making you totally angry at yourself for not getting anything done today, or for the last week, etc.

You don’t have to figure out the why (in my opinion)

This is just my two cents — use it or don’t. There’s so much focus on finding the “why” depression happens, if you don’t already have good idea (ie., your girl or boyfriend broke up with you, an investor didn’t come through, your pet died, etc.) There are plenty out there who just “fall in” and they don’t know why, and I think that’s fine.

Our brains are about as complex as astrophysics — ever tried wrapping your head around how our universe managed to grow from the size of an imperceptible molecule to the vast network of blackness, planets, stars, and who-knows-what-else it is now? The universe doesn’t know why its expanding and it doesn’t care. When it stops growing it will start contracting and eventually swallow itself up, and there’s nothing it or any of us can do about it.

I think knowing you’re in a funk is pretty powerful information to have. It’s a starting point you can start to push forward from. You quit your job to start a business — start the business. Things aren’t going well after year one, two, three, etc — figure it out. You don’t want to get up and do the work today — get up and do the work! Don’t be a slave to that which you may not understand and likely cannot control.

Ignore the woo-woo stuff and just get after it

Some people just don’t get meditation — I’m almost ashamed in the age we live in to admit I’m one of them. You may not like exercise — but, let’s face it, you probably should. If you’ve ever watched Kumail Nanjiani’s character “Keanu” in the hilarious movie Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, you definitely don’t need some wacko massage therapist giving you a freaky naked massage to feel better — though I’m not judging!

The point I’m trying to get across is there’s no magic self-help formula, pill, or potion that’s going to get you past what you’re going through. I think persistence and just taking the steps to get your business rolling is the best medicine for curbing the depression you feel is currently holding you back. It’s easy to waste time looking for solutions that make you feel better, but actually feeling better requires accomplishment and all the great things that come along with it.

Overcoming entrepreneurial depression
Image Credit: Chris Guillebeau/Flickr

If you’re bummed about the direction your business is going — you control the direction, so change it. If you don’t want to sit down at the computer or pick up the phone and do what needs to get done — it’s really you that’s holding yourself back. If you push past the need to procrastinate and sit around pitying yourself, you’ll ultimately at least be able to look back and say you got it done — accomplishments can be very uplifting and make getting after it tomorrow easier.

You’re in control

I think most people that experience any kind of depression, whether they’re an entrepreneur or not, feel like someone else is largely in control of their destiny. You can’t control what fees the government will charge you to register your vehicle at the DMV, or convince the TSA not to strip search you at the airport before your next trip to Fiji. Everything outside of government and unprovoked violence being perpetrated against us is in our control.

It all comes down to mindset. You can choose whether something makes you happy or sad, listless or motivated, hungry or full. You can choose to go parachuting or instead opt for a safe and relaxing day on the beach. This might sound woo-woo-y to you, but it’s the single best realisation I’ve had when trying to get through an entrepreneurial depression funk. You have to rule the depression — dictate where it takes you and how it affects your life and career.

Food for thought:

  • Almost every entrepreneur gets bummed out now and again. You’re not alone.
  • Adversity is a sign that if you push through, rewards are soon to follow.
  • Depression only stops you from getting things done if you succumb to it.

Main Image Credit: Jlhopgood/Flickr