I was just chatting with a good friend and fellow entrepreneur, and what we were talking about has come up in so many conversations over the last couple of weeks I felt I needed to write about it.
Here’s the issue…
Many business owners have a “to-do” list a mile long, are working an insane amount of hours and are exhausted. We’re told if we want a successful business we need to put all our energy into growing it, and think about it as running a marathon.
Whilst I totally agree that building your business is like running a marathon as a long term strategy (ie. you’re not going to make a million dollars sitting on a beach in Cozumel next week), I’m calling bulls**t on this marathon thing right now!
Running a marathon every single day is not going to have you able to build a successful business. All it’s going to give you is burnout! How do I know this? Because this was me just recently – I’d let these 5 things slide and had let bad habits creep in. Not intentionally, but it had happened slowly over time.
A great friend of mine said to me, “Sam, you need to fit your own oxygen mask first”. What he was trying to tell me was that if I didn’t look after myself, and be in the best physical and mental state, how could I possibly bring my “A Game” to my business?
So here’s my list of 5 things that successful business owners do, that the ‘burnt out’ business owners don’t make time for.
1. Fuel Your Body
According to Maslow’s Hierarchy Of Needs, if your fundamental needs aren’t being met, then you aren’t able to move up the ladder. Ditch the fast food options for good quality fruit and vegetables, and don’t skip meals. It’s just as easy to pick up some strawberries for a quick afternoon snack as it is to reach for a chocolate bar. Exchange your late afternoon coffee for a refreshing herbal tea, and keep a water bottle with you throughout the day and sip on it regularly to stay hydrated and alert. Your body is the only vehicle to take you through life, so it’s your choice whether to treat it like a Ferrari or a beat up jalopy. If your body can’t properly function, it will ultimately fail. The question then becomes who will look after your business while you need to take “forced” time out?
Your body is designed to move, and movement is life. You don’t need me to tell you all the benefits of exercise as it’s constantly drilled into us. What I do want to say about exercise, is it should be fun. If you hate going to the gym, choose to go for a walk or a bike ride outdoors. If you hate being outside in winter, but you love music, choose a dance class – I couldn’t be as creative in my business if I didn’t go to dance class twice a week. Whatever exercise you choose, do it because you love it and it makes you feel good and energised.
Some people like to meditate to start the day, but for me, meditation is the best cure for 3 o’clock-itis. There are many different ways to meditate which don’t involve the “woo woo” technique of sitting on the grass in silence with your legs crossed, so it’s about choosing the method which works best for you. Not only will meditating clear your head, but the deep breathing will allow your body to relax – it’s like hitting the re-set button for your mind and body. I love the quote, “you should meditate for 20 minutes per day unless you’re too busy. Then you should meditate for an hour”.
4. Sprint Work
When this idea was introduced to me, it totally changed the way I worked and meant I was much more productive. Instead of working half heartedly for hours at a time, and constantly flipping between email and social media tabs, work just like you were doing interval training. Spend a set amount of time in a laser-focussed burst of action, and then stop and take some time out – without the guilt. I use the app Brain.FM and set the time to either 60 or 90 minute blocks, depending on what I’m working on. Close all other tabs on your computer, so you can’t just slide on over to the Facebook or email tab. Yes the internet is awesome, but it can also be the biggest time-waster ever!
5. Schedule Time Out
This is absolutely essential, and doesn’t necessarily have to mean taking a long overseas trip. It might be a weekend down the coast, with or without the kids. Schedule your holidays into your diary at the beginning of each year so you have something to look forward to – especially when you’re in the midst of a challenging time. Have you ever been away and had idea’s come flooding to you easily? I love getting away and having my motivation and excitement return, ready for the next sprint.
And my final word here is this…
When you’re scrolling down your Facebook newsfeed and you cast your eyes on yet another post on “how to be more productive”, “how to totally nail multi-tasking” or “how to complete 798 tasks today”, and you feel your heart racing and you beat yourself up because you’re feeling guilty that the 20 hours straight you’ve just worked isn’t enough… I challenge you to call bulls**t too! Try fitting your own oxygen mask first, and see what happens to your business.