Before most speaking engagements, the participants complete a pre-event questionnaire. One of the questions I ask is, “What area(s) of money causes you the most stress?” The options are: earning, saving, spending, managing debt, investing, love + money. 

The responses reflect the diversity of the people answering, but this question never goes unanswered.  And I am not surprised.

Because the truth is everyone is contending with some degree of stress. It is a natural part of life. 

And although it is universal, how stress is experienced and managed is different from person to person. 

Your “just enough” stress may be another’s “too much” and vice versa.

But, something all degrees of stress have in common is the presence of friction. Or, that space and tension that exists between where you are and where you want to be, or what you have and what you want to have. There is something about this gap that is unexpected, unwanted, and/or overwhelming.

Just Enough or Too Much?

One of the many values of completing (or revisiting) the Financial Wheel Framework is that it can help you identify what areas of your money are in conflict with one another. This conflict is usually the cause of the stress you are experiencing – whether this stress is in response to changes and challenges you are navigating or threats that have you in “fight or flight” mode.  

However, discerning the line between just enough stress and too much stress can sometimes be imperceptibly thin.

Just enough stress can be healthy and beneficial. 

This is known as “eustress,” a positive form of stress that can activate your motivation, focus, and determination. This type of stress tends to push you out of your comfort zone and energizes you to beat the odds and perform your best.

This type of stress can improve your financial reality.

On the other hand, too much stress (or distress) can be debilitating. Left unchecked, it can lead to harmful effects on your mind and body.

This type of stress can place you in a financially precarious situation.

For us entrepreneurs and small business owners, the interplay of money, business, life, and stress is a complex and challenging reality. One we are always navigating, with no one-size-fits-all solution.

Especially since the “thing” that perhaps was once just enough stress can morph into being too much, depending upon the circumstances and the context thereof. 

A Common Sentiment

“I don’t want to be stressed,” is a sentiment I hear often. Yet, as I always tell people, the goal isn’t to not have stress

A better, more useful goal is to: 

  • not be stressed about the same things all the time (if you are, it is often an indication that you aren’t implementing your lessons learned); 
  • improve your discernment skills so you can quickly and easily differentiate between stress that is pervasive and chronic and stress that is moderate and for a limited time;
  • maximize the moderate/limited time stress since it can often be a portal to one of your most valuable assets.

Creativity as an Asset

There is a strong likelihood that you share a common attribute I often notice in my friends, colleagues, peers, and clients. My coach tends to point out when I do it, too. It’s this: A tendency to discount our gifts, talents, abilities, and imagination because they come naturally to us. 

As a result, I believe far too many of us unknowingly dismiss the power of our creativity to transform the way we approach challenges, solve problems, and navigate the complexities we encounter when it comes to money, business, and life. 

Even when there is proof, from past choices and experiences, that the presence of stress is what actually gave birth to some of your best ideas!

Let’s say you are experiencing a cash-flow crunch and your offers aren’t selling as easily as they used to. What do you do? 

Maybe you double-down and keep doing what you have always done to see if that eventually addresses the matter – in both the short- and long-term. 


Maybe you scan the landscape in search of options, opportunities, or fresh perspectives you hadn’t considered before. Maybe this leads to unique ideas that cause you to break free from traditional patterns within your business or of your industry, which in turn, leads to something different and new. 

Unlike distress, eustress unlocks creativity and innovation; it sparks critical thinking; and enables you to operate in a more objective, clear-eyed fashion. 

Creativity is what allows you and me to adapt to changing circumstances and environments.

This is a key reason creativity is one of your most powerful assets.

Are You Being “Asked” to Adapt?

Right now, as you are reading these words, are you being “asked” to adapt due to the financial stress you are experiencing? 

Is it slow-growing revenue, slow sales, inconsistent sales (and thus cash flow), low profit, or inability to pay yourself (or pay yourself well and consistently)? 

How is the financial stress in your business revealing itself in your life? Are you finding it hard to personally save, invest, or fund your ideal lifestyle? 

What is your data telling you? 

It is saying this stress is moderate and for a limited time because of your accounts receivables or business development pipeline? Or, is it helping you identify ways to stop the stress from evolving into something more pervasive and potentially chronic? 

Embedded in the nature of your stress and the data you uncover are clues for what to do next.

Next usually involves adapting your mindset, behavior, expectations, strategy, choices, and what you believe is possible, to name a few. 

And for everyone, particularly us entrepreneurs and small business owners, adapting is inevitable. At least it is if you want to go beyond the stress you are navigating and thrive.

The relationship between creativity and adapting is deeply intertwined. 

Both require similar traits:

  • An open-mindedness and a willingness to embrace new perspectives; 
  • Flexibility, so you avoid letting tunnel vision creep in;
  • An inclination to sit in the void that represents the gap between challenges and inspiration;
  • A readiness (even if reluctantly) to challenge conventional thinking, and break free from rigid patterns. 

The combination of creativity and adaptation enables you to navigate unfamiliar territory with a degree of sureness that isn’t based on your current situation. 

This is why the price of unhealthy financial stress is so costly. It can block the big idea that is waiting for you to birth it or take it to the next level. When this happens, not only do you lose out but so, too, do those who would benefit from your creation.

Eustress, or healthy stress, on the other hand, does the opposite. 

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