Planning Your Way Out of Stress

Mar 9, 2011, Written by Sue Miley

For some people, planning adds stress, so how are we going to plan our way out of stress?  I am pretty sure it isn’t the idea of having a plan that causes the stress, it is finding the time to plan.

But, if we don’t do something different, you know the story, we continue to get the same results.

A few typical responses to stress:

…ignore it and hope it goes away

…compartmentalize it and push it out of the way (for the time being)

…freeze; be paralyzed by it.

…respond negatively to everyone that comes in your path

…take some terrible drug that doctors shouldn’t prescribe for every day stress like Xanax

We may pray too.  But, do we listen for God’s solutions.

The Band-aid Solution is Short Lived

It may be part of our bandaid society.  Give me something that will make me feel better right this moment.  If it comes back tomorrow I will worry about it then.  Yet we follow the same circular logic, day after day, until the stress debilitates us or causes significant pain in our life.

As part of this series on Stress Solutions, we are looking at how planning is the second step in our stress solution process. The overview post, Stress Solutions: Pray, Plan and Practice provided a 3 step process to reduce and maybe even eliminate the stress in your life.  Then we delved deeper into how we can use prayer in 10 Ways to Connect (pray) with God In Your Business.

Always Begin With Prayer

Prayer has to happen before we plan.  It is always important to pray first.  You want to be planning in God’s will after all.  But, the typical responses to stress may or may not even acknowledge the stress, and rarely do our responses result in long-term alleviation from the stress.

Then We Plan

As a third post in the series on Stress Solutions, we are going to look at “planning our way out of stress” as the second step in the 3 part process.

I am not talking about planning for retirement or making strategic plans for your business….

I mean to specifically PLAN to reduce your stress; both the symptoms and the cause!

Start with asking yourself these questions:

  • Where is the level of stress in your business life right now?
  • What are the two or three things that you are tolerating in your business?
  • What are the core sources of your stress?
  • If you could change something in the next 90 days that would have the biggest impact on alleviating your stress, which thing would it be?

The Proper Planning “Happy” Place

To answer these questions, find a quiet place without interruptions.  A place that is peaceful to you.  Bring a pen and paper.  Relax for a few minutes.  Don’t forget your favorite Starbuck’s drink to fully set the mood.  Say a prayer inviting God into the time with you.  Start jotting down answers….free flow, stream of conscious, thinking.

As you move down the questions it will narrow down what to start working on first!

Now For Stage 2 of the Planning Process

What do you do about your free flowing, stream of conscious, list of stressors that are causing you to age before your time?

First, make sure the best 90 day change is specific enough.  If you just say “your business” is causing you stress, you won’t make much progress. Drill down to something like:

….my employees not showing up on time to work and not finishing things on time.

….always feeling like I am on the verge of not making payroll i.e. cash flow timing issues.

….my financials are a mess and I can’t make proper decisions.

Second, brain storm action steps to solve the short-term pain. Examples might be:

  • to hire a temp as back-up so you can put strict accountability measures in place for employee lateness.
  • have an employee go through the accounts receivable aging and call anyone who is past due and offer to send someone to pick up a check.
  • outsource to a Quickbook whiz and get the immediate problem cleaned up.

Third, brainstorm long-term solutions so that these issues don’t continue to plague you. Long-term solutions may be:

  • develop a policy on tardiness and follow it closely to get the behaviors changed long-term.
  • apply for a working capital line of credit and pay down quickly and frequently to build up creditworthiness.
  • get a staff member trained to maintain the books accurately and set up for a quarterly review with an outsourced vendor to keep financial records accurate.

Fourth, repeat and follow this process for each of the key stressors you identified.

Many people are tempted to mask the symptoms or only follow through on the short-term band-aid solutions.  These don’t solve the problem!

This is where you might circle back to  prayer and pray that the Holy Spirit gives you the fruit of self-control to help you follow-through with your plans.  Ask that the Holy Spirit to guide you into the “practices” that will minimize stress in your business life.

Without execution our plans are worthless!

Reader Interactions


  1. David Rupert says

    With stress usually I just buckle in, figuring I’m in it for the ride. Your post gave me a different perspective, one I’ve never thought about and helps me be a little more proactive.

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Sue Miley

Sue Miley MBA, MA, LPC helps small business owners build successful businesses on a foundation of Christian values. After 20 years in business, and 10 years as a Christian counselor, Sue uses a combination of faith, business and psychology to help clients in business and in life.

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