You're an Entrepreneur. A Freelancer. A Solopreneur. A general Badass.
You're hungry and you've been chasing the dream: a thriving business that affords you the lifestyle some people have only dreamt about.
Do you dream of being surrounded by fluffy puppies on a beach? Of course you do.
With such ambitious dreams, it can be easy to become immersed in your business at the expense of your mental and physical health.
The best entrepreneurs are the ones that recognize that their business is an extensions of themselves and that striving to be the best version of themselves is critical to their success.
These four habits will ensure you never lose sight of what's most important to realizing your dreams: YOU.
Included is some "homework." I urge you to click on the links, watch the videos, and read the supplemental material. They're incredibly valuable resources that will push you to improve on any areas that you might be lacking in.
And, I guarantee you... No matter how badass of an entrepreneur you may be, you have room for improvement.
This post is the first in a four-post series, where each post will explore a different set of essential habits.
1. Practice self awareness and reflect.
YOU are the root of your business. Your flaws are your businesses flaws. Your strengths are your businesses strengths.
Everyone and their mama knows that self development is important. We often hear about the normal goals: improve my time management, improve my fitness, etc.
These are important, yes. But they're barely scratching the surface on what is truly holding you back.
...Reflect on your shortcomings, understand the source of its weaknesses, observe your own contributions or lack thereof, and deeply internalize the lesson so that next time you can play a bigger role. It's going to be hard because the mind will thrive to defend you from any opposing information or perspective. It will push for unrealistic attitudes to make you feel better because, hey, you need to survive. This isn't only our default reaction, it's simply human nature.
– Paul Jun, Author on Self Meditation
As it turns out, pinpointing your flaws can be tricky.
After all, we're pretty full of ourselves and our ego tends to blind us to those specific qualities that prevent us from seeing progress in our lives and our company. Often times, our reflections are best interpreted when we see them through the lens of our fears.
What are you scared of most?
Brendon Buchard, a motivational thought leader, talks about a concept called the Competence Confidence Loop, a loop that many entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, and freelancers trap themselves in.
The loop goes like this:
You're afraid to try something because you aren't confident of your competence in that area. You are prevented from becoming competent in that area because you're too afraid to try, and the cycle continues.
The pain of these kinds of fears can be broken up into 3 kinds:
- Loss Pain: You're afraid to move ahead because you'll lose something valuable.
- Process Pain: Occurs everytime you try something new. You have to go through the process of trying it.
- Outcome Pain: The pain of not getting the outcome you desired.
How often have pains like these prevented you from moving forward on making that big investment that will take your business to the next level?
How often has outcome pain prevented you from approaching your DREAM clients as a freelancer?
The best entrepreneurs are aware of their fears and they tackle them head on. But, first, you have to reflect on what those fears are in order to tackle them effectively.
When was the last time you took the time for an honest reflection like this?
Homework: Check out Brendan Burchard's full article on these different pains and the methodologies he uses to overcome them. You can read the article here.
2. Grow yourself and your mindset.
Our fears create massive mental roadblocks in our head.
They prevent us from thinking BIG, and from having the confidence within ourselves to be BOLD and take giant leaps into the unknown.
Our daily actions are manifestations of how we see our own identities. If we believe we're hard to get along with, then we'll seek out conflict with others. If we believe that we're not worthy of being paid our true value, then we'll continue to seek out small time clients and undercut ourselves at the negotiation table.
Our brains are wired to prevent any kind of cognitive dissonance from occuring within ourselves, which is just a fancy way of saying: If we believe we are great, we will do great things to stay in line with that identity.
The most important thing to remember is that YOU can re-write your story and your identity at any moment. You can actually trick your brain into becoming your new identity.
Eben Pagan, a serial entrepreneur who has achieved massive success, has a fantastic video on how to re-write these exact stories.
What kinds of stories have you been telling yourself on a daily basis? What identity can you create that will re-write these stories?
I would take a few minutes and watch this video if you haven't already:
Self-growth and eliminating mental roadblocks is not a one time, "wham bam thank you ma'am" endeavor. It's a muscle that requires frequent exercise, and the best way to exercise this muscle is to read voraciously. But when you're an entrepreneur, how do you find the time to grow yourself, your business AND READ ALL THE BOOKS?
Well, there's a secret.
Pat Flynn and Tim Ferris figured it out. And now you can have that secret, too. It's simple. In order to read more, just read faster.
Homework: Lucky you, there is a very scientific method on how to increase your reading speed and a total expert has already written an amazing article about it. (Thanks, Pat Flynn!)
You can check it out here.
3. Set aside sacred time in your sacred space.
As entrepreneurs, our time is our most valuable asset. It just feels like there's never enough of it in the day to get ALL the things done for our business that we need to.
With task lists that seem to never stop growing, it is critical to afford our most productive time to our most important tasks.
What do you consider to be your most important tasks?
Maybe it's the task that emerges when you apply an 80/20 filter over all your to-dos. It's the task that will have 80% of the impact, where the other tasks will only have 20% impact.
Or maybe, what's most important to you, and what I would argue, should be most important to you, is that time in which you are creating something instead of just doing something.
That time is my sacred time.
If you're a writer, it's the time you're actually writing for yourself instead of just doing that blog post that you promised your client. If you're a designer, it's when you're drafting and putting to paper all the genius inside your head.
You must protect this time and devote the best part of your day, (the beginning of it) to this time. Give it a solid 3 hour block after you've eaten breakfast. This is when your creative muscles are the strongest! And of course, sacred time needs a sacred space.
Sacred Space is an absolute necessity for anybody today. You must have a room, or a certain hour or so a day, where you don’t know what was in the newspapers that morning, you don’t know who your friends are, you don’t know what you owe anybody, you don’t know what anybody owes to you. This is a place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be. This is the place of creative incubation. At first you may find that nothing happens there. But if you have a sacred place and use it, something eventually will happen. Where is your bliss station? You have to try to find it.
– Joseph Campbell, Author/Philosopher
How you design your sacred space is entirely up to you:
Workspace of a fancy designer or a 5 year old? Hmm.
And... while its recommended to start your day with this sacred time, when you have your sacred time is less important than just having it in the first place.
Have you made a point of scheduling this time in your daily schedule? What will your sacred space look like?
Homework: For the early risers, or for those who aspire to be early risers, Hal Elrod wrote an amazing book called The Miracle Morning (affiliate link) that teaches you how to make the most of your sacred time.
I highly recommend the book, but if you're interested in a quick synopsis, he wrote a blog post about how you can implement his system in just 6 minutes every day.
Also, James Altucher has a fantastic exercise that he does everyday that helps him come up with his best ideas and have better ideas every time. Hint: Idea #6 is where your brain really sweats.
And, finally, this sacred time is the best time to write (whether you're business involves that or not) and the benefits of writing during this time are tenfold. This blog post from LifeHacker explores ways to push your writing skills further.
Don't forget to pair your notebook with this awesome Japanese Productivity Hack that will basically turn your tangible notebook into an Evernote file.
4. Take care of your body.
You're probably rolling your eyes at this.
Seems pretty obvious and yet I know so many entrepreneurs that have sacrificed their health in the name of their business.
Maybe the following scenario rings a bell:
You're slouched over in a cafe, furiously tapping away at your company. Your third cup of coffee has gone cold, so you think of ordering a fourth. Might as well pair it with one of those delicious looking pastries by the counter. You'll run it off later.
Except "later" never comes.
Before you know it, you're drained and you have no energy to exercise. All you can think about are carbs. Warm, cheesy, delicious carbs.
Ok. All you can think about is pizza.
Let's face it. You KNOW you need to be watching your health, but you're not. It can be a combination of things:
You're paralyzed by "getting started."
You're afraid it will be hard.
You don't want to give up the things you love.
You haven't scheduled it in consistently, and so you gave up the first time you caved.
Skip back to #1 and figure out what your mental roadblocks are, use #2 to find out what you can do about it, and then implement #4 to start making it happen.
Are you making time for fitness and health? Are you scheduling in your health like you should be?
Once you've done that, come back and check out these resources for entrepreneurs that will help kickstart your healthy journey in 3 key areas: Fitness, Sleep, Diet.
Fitness: If you find yourself pressed for time, try these desk exercises in between tasks to get your blood flowing.
Sleep: Arriana Huffington, one of the biggest advocates of sleep on the planet, shares her story of how lack of sleep almost killed her. Watch this interview between her and Lewis Howes:
James Clear (yes! I love him. Obviously.) wrote a wonderful article on the subject, too. So if you struggle with sleep, check out his article on the science of it and how to sleep better.
If you liked this post, then you should DEFINITELY stay tuned for the second post in this series that explores the productivity and time management habits of the most successful entrepreneurs.
You'll learn exactly WHY Mark Zuckerberg wears a hoodie everyday and how that has contributed to the growth of Facebook, and we also debunk one of the most common myths associated with being an Entrepreneur to date.
Don't forget to comment below! We'd love to hear your feedback.
As an entrepreneur, what resources have best helped you take care of your mind and body?