February 22, 2023

Managing Work and Life Stress

Current thoughts:

It is currently Thursday afternoon, I just got back from a Festool product launch in Indianapolis, and I am stressed to say the least. I am in the middle of a basement renovation for a longtime return customer, I have a handful of smaller jobs on my plate, and I have a large (for me) project coming up in May. Work is creating some trepidation for me, but most of my anxiety is being generated from not working. 

I am at the sub stage and inspection stage on my current basement remodel. It is an older home, and we are dealing with a lot of existing conditions, and doing my best to tighten things up as much as possible while not going overboard. I am trying to be cognizant of the potential ROI for this customer, but I feel as though the job is at a standstill, and it is not where I want it to be. The fact of the matter is that I traveled for work this week, I am taking a much needed family vacation next week, and then I have to travel again twice in March. Once for work, and once for pleasure. I know, I know, I know…tough life, but these vacations are what is generating the stress. I feel overwhelmed by all of this. Two “vacations” within two months, and the guilt is REAL.

I am trying to juggle inspections, subs, family life, personal life, health, existing customers, new customers, current business ventures, and new opportunities on the horizon. While all of this is extremely exciting, it is also perpetually occupying my mind. I cannot seem to find respite. I have tried exercising more, purposefully relaxing (that may be an oxymoron, tbd), getting out into the woods, working, and even not working, but nothing seems to quell the angst. I know that the bulk of this stress is being produced by the upcoming travel and the downtime, and I do not want to ruin these experiences by projecting what may happen, and stressing about what I will not get done. In the meantime I am making futile attempts at catching up before and after while feeling helpless to the cause. Subs’ schedules, my schedule, and inspections are not falling into place as I would like. My customers understand, my family understands, but I cannot come to terms with it.  

I was recently listening to a podcast and the host was explaining that most of his anxiety is due to lack of control. As soon as he feels that he does not have total control of a situation or even moreso, life; his anxiety flares up and becomes crippling. Holy crap, can I relate! I am green with envy of those who can give it all up and concede to not being in control. Right now I am frustrated, nervous, apprehensive, stressed, and a little annoyed. The pressures of work and life feel heavy, but why? Shouldn’t I be excited? I have an opportunity to completely disconnect and unwind with my family for a full week, but the frustrations due to lack of progress are ruining that for me.

As I sit here typing this I am sadly hoping someone can relate to this, and that I am not alone. I am wishing to commiserate with the masses. My wife tells me that this will all work out, I know that this will all work out, but I cannot detach or accept the situation at hand. I cannot simply let it go. This is the area of my life that needs the most amount of work. I need to learn that every situation will not be perfect, every job will not run smoothly, and that every experience will not be effortless and stress free. That is not life. Easier said than done for me, but I need to learn to focus on the positives. Rather than dwell on what I am not going to get done, the money I will not be making, the headaches being generated from this, the lack of productivity, I need to focus on what is good in my life, and what I can actually control. 

If I cannot go away for a week or go on vacation twice in two months, and I allow the struggles and impacts of those situations to ruin the experiences, that is my own fault. It is not fair to myself or my family. I need to realize the pressure is self-inflicted. The worst case scenario is not all that bad. I am human, I am not perfect, and life is not happy all the time. All that I can do, is all that I can do, and that needs to be good enough. 

The purpose of the blog was to sit down and hopefully come to terms with the fact that some things are simply out of my control. I have to learn that there are more important things in life than maintaining a schedule, making money, and productivity. I have to learn to accept that detachment is not wrong, my customers will still be there when I come home, and that I cannot please everyone. I am not there yet, and the anxiety is still just below the skin, but at least I made an effort to acknowledge my feelings rather than suppress them, or stew in my own shit. That is not to say that I will not be doing a little of that, but hopefully I can find some peace throughout this situation. 

I would absolutely love to hear how you guys and girls deal with these feelings and the stress that so often accompanies life. I generally use distractions to remove myself, but that is just a bandaid. What are your standard practices? What do you implement into your daily routines? How do you learn to be okay with not hitting the mark? How do you turn it all off and stop the noise in a constructive and healthy manner? I know that I am not alone here, and I would love to tap into your brains, resources, and experiences. In the meantime, wish me luck!

- Tyler Grace