As I write this, the lead story on the CNN website is 'Shovels hit the ground': referring to a road resurfacing project in Maryland, the first to directly benefit from the Transportation Department's share of the $787 billion stimulus bill. That's really good news for the 60 people who got jobs and their families. But for the rest of us who aren't likely to earn a living digging ditches, we have to be a little more creative, a little more resourceful. In many cases, we have to change our whole game up. And with major change can come major stress.

Stress comes in all shapes & sizes; no longer just a catch-all phrase, we now know that it can directly and seriously impact our health – even shorten our life expectancies! More and more, current advances in medicine and brain science confirm this truth. Stress, anxiety, fear... when they persist as chronic emotional states cause real, measurable, and lasting damage to our physiologies. So before we can get our financial house in order, we have to make sure we have a solid, healthy foundation. That means relieving and reducing stress whenever and wherever possible. Check out WebMD's Stress Management Center for some great helpful resources.

Ok, let's say you've come to terms with the generalized national stress due to the economy. You've decided to pursue income opportunities on the Internet, you're starting to get psyched-up, but then--

The critics start in. These are the voices without and within that have a thousand reasons why you shouldn't bother, because you're just gonna fail anyway. "Don't take chances, don't risk it", the voices say. Just stay where you are. Change is bad.

There's a term for this kind of negativity that comes from the computer/hacker culture: FUD, an acronym standing for Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt. [For the geeky, or merely curious, you can learn a lot more about authentic (white hat) hacker history & lingo from Eric Raymond's Jargon File.]

In my experience, of all the obstacles to the entrepreneur, many of the toughest to overcome are staring us in the mirror. What I mean is that often people are their own worst enemies. How many times have you had an inspiration, a great idea for a new product or service, only to second-guess yourself or decide that your vision was "just a dream, just a fantasy?" Then the kicker comes weeks or months later, you're watching late-night TV and --- POW! -- somebody else is marketing your idea! This scenario has happened to me more than once.

More than an amusing anecdote, this kind of self-censorship has serious repercussions over the long haul. Compromise is a fact of life, and necessary within limits, but for too many of us, "settling" for a miserable job becomes an acceptable cop-out. This is especially true for smart, ambitious black folks and other people of color. When we obsess about "just getting by", when we spend all our time worrying about surviving, we cheat ourselves out of the real possibility of THRIVING. We must continually guard against such small-mindedness, whether in ourselves or in the dismissive attitudes of others (aka the "Crabs in a Bucket" syndrome). Otherwise we may suffer the consequences of a "Dream Deferred", as chillingly immortalized by Langston Hughes in his poem.

When the mountain seems too high to climb, take a break. Step away from the computer; turn off the television. Personally, I make it a habit to take a 20-30 minute walk outside every single day. (Unless the weather's so fierce that people are blowing sideways!) While I'm moving, I practice controlled, diaphragmatic, deep breathing techniques to relax. You don't need an expensive gym membership, or a fancy complicated machine. These simple exercises really, really work – for FREE. I come home energized, refreshed, and uplifted. Maintaining and improving my health is an investment that multiplies my more tangible assets. Make sure you invest in yourself.