That day after checking the business dashboard, I knew I won’t be able to meet the targets, and the decisions I made a few months ago were flat out wrong.

One year had passed since I left my job for entrepreneurship, and I have not been producing any meaningful results despite investing a countless amount of labor hours and a considerable sum of money.

I knew it wasn’t easy, but I thought with all the experience and knowledge I accumulated prior to striking out on my own would at least help me avoid the obvious mistakes and failure. It was the first time that I felt I had an edge in terms of resources and expertise – that I would attain success quicker than others normally would. Except it was a series of disappointments, self-doubts, and self-hatred.

It’s one of those times where you try to do whatever you can to make things right, from getting a mentor to doing daily reflection, maintaining positive outlooks, and applying mental models to solve ongoing business problems. Yet none of those things seemed to have prevented you from yet another setback and failure.

My ego was crushed.

I felt lost and inadequate for the challenges ahead. Looking at the success of others on social media only deepen the wound – all the motivational talks felt meaningless and superficial. Community suddenly didn’t seem like a source of emotional support, rather a place that induces envy and anxiety.

Problems get magnified, body working against you

When you are not in the right state of mind. Every problem seems larger than it should be. Each challenge poses a crisis than an opportunity to adapt and reinvent yourself.

Before, I could see the big picture and broke whatever problems I was facing into smaller parts and solved them one at a time. The ability to see beyond the current problems seems to have lost when you are feeling negative and you lack the mental and emotional state to overcome it: you are your worst enemy.

After a while, I began to realize that I was falling into the cycle of negative feedback loop. I was also constantly checking business metrics hoping to see some sort of positive signs. It didn’t help that they are located on five different websites – creating unnecessary distractions for deep works.

And without realizing that I have made my emotional state vulnerable to something which I do not have direct control over, like short-term traffic and earnings metrics.

Road to recovery

The first thing is to realize that you are not in the best emotional state to deal with the challenges at hand – that there is nothing apocalyptic if you stop working for a day, or two, or even a week straight. Hustling 24/7 at this time is bad and you should slow down your tempo.

Telling yourself that if you don’t want to work, you can stop or quit at any time. Knowing that you can actually quit would take a lot of pressure off your shoulder.

During the period, take a long and slow walk. Listen to music if you want or just observing and listening to the sounds from the environment. Appreciate the tiny things from your surrounding. Feel your walking steps, the people passing by you, and your mental narratives – what words are running on your head?

After a while, if the things you are doing are really important and align with your values, your body will want to get back to work. It is often during this moment that you truly know what you want in life.

The next thing I find helpful is to create lists. A list of tasks, issues, and ideas that would bring me closer to the solution. When you are able to give structure to that airy thoughts, you gain clarity. Writing also helps to release any mental and emotional baggage.

The stuff you have written can be arranged and re-arranged, or strikethrough. That in some psychological sense helps you to feel in control of the situations – and gives you the confidence to take on the bigger challenges ahead.