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5 ways we can all be smarter

5 ways we can all be smarter

How many of you entrepreneurs have felt burnt out, tired or unmotivated? Chances are you have, probably more often than you’d like. It’s common to be frustrated with your efforts and feel unsatisfied with where your business is going. It seems like you’re doing all the right things, so where are the results?

Thankfully, humans have the innate ability to learn vicariously through other people’s experiences. Our civilization has had tons of incredibly intelligent, pioneering people come and go for us to learn from. We’re also fortunate to have the Internet, which lets us research these individuals at any time; the power of knowledge is a click away.

This article will focus on five ways you can work smarter as an entrepreneur. We’ll talk about work/life balance, networking and what needs to be done to succeed as an entrepreneur, supported by quotes from talented people in our society.

1. Get rid of the need for perfection!

 

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    “Your first projects aren’t the greatest things in the world, and they may have no money value, they may go nowhere, but that is how you learn – you put so much effort into making something right if it is for yourself.” – Steve Wozniak

    Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak knows a thing or two about working and self-effort. Perfection can be a monster that forces you to strive to meet the standards of others. Perfection can drive you crazy from the amount of time and effort you spend chasing it. Smart people realize that their best work won’t come on the first, second, third, fourth or even fifth try. Don’t let perfection be your Achilles heel.

    Perfection holds us in the past and disrupts our ability to focus on what’s important. Once you deem something perfect, it loses its ability to grow or get better. When it comes to your business, this is absolutely unacceptable. Just like with the people in our lives, sometimes it’s the little quirks and flaws that make you special. Striving for excellence in what you do and how you serve people is necessary, but looking for perfection in every area of your business will have you spinning your wheels.

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    “Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

    2. Get ready to give before you receive

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      To make the transition from entrepreneur to running a full-fledged business, you’ll need the support of your community. It’s easy to run a successful business when people in your community know who you are and recognize you for being helpful. Giving back works best, when you expect nothing in return. Think about it as your “civic duty”. You can take pride in helping out other people in your community, and if you’re lucky you may be repaid in opportunity.

      Giving back to your community is a great way to meet prominent people in local companies, local business owners, local media persons and just people in general. The smaller the place you live, the more important this becomes.

      “The results of philanthropy are always beyond calculation.” – Mary Ritter Beard

      While you should give back without looking for anything in return, volunteer work inevitably comes with some benefits. Volunteering helps with branding your business as one that cares and at the same time you’re actually helping real people. If you have employees, volunteering is great for engaging everyone and building team camaraderie. As an entrepreneur, you should strongly consider including giving back as a part of your business routine.

      3. Practicing gratitude will help you feel less overwhelmed

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        The life of an entrepreneur is not for the faint of heart. Even the most grizzled entrepreneur veterans will admit to this, it takes an almost inhuman amount of discipline and focus. While you work may seem to be never-ending, it’s important that you still enjoy your life.

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        Finding happiness as an entrepreneur will follow finding a balance between your work and the things that make you happy. You can’t just plow away through your life and work at full speed all the time. Without setting aside the time for breaks, you’re guaranteed to crash and burn out.  Remember that taking care of your mental and physical health is just as important as getting work done.

        “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, All play and no work makes Jack a mere toy.” – Maria Edgeworth

        It’s easy to become consumed with your work, especially if you have a burning passion for success or to attain your goals. Although an entrepreneur’s life is associated with freedom, sometimes this freedom can turn you into a slave to your own desires. Staying in the moment is an excellent way to avoid this. Think back to why you started your own business, was it to work 24/7 and still feel stressed about getting nothing done?

        Remember that your work will always be there, and that half the fun is in the journey anyways. You’re almost guaranteed to endure your fair share of failures, especially if you want to attain high levels of success. Taking the time to relax every day will help you mentally put things in perspective and return to work with a new energy.

        “You can’t be an entrepreneur for other people. You can’t start a company for other people. You have to love it more than you ever thought of loving something that wasn’t a human being. The demands will kick you down and rob your life – but yet, it is so rewarding.” – Blake Lively

        4. Read, Read, Read. And when you’re done, read some more.

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          “Think before you speak. Read before you think.” – Fran Lebowitz, The Fran Lebowitz Reader

          It goes without saying that knowledge is key to your success as an entrepreneur. Knowledge makes it easier to make good decisions as well as save you time and money. An uneducated entrepreneur does their own business a disservice by not being committed to growing their knowledge base. New insights will help you find new unique and efficient ways to get things done as well as discover new opportunities.

          Reading is also a complex task that gets multiple parts of your brain active at the same time. Reading makes you sharper, promotes brain health and can even slow diseases like Alzheimer’s or Dementia from developing. When you read on a regular basis, it helps to improve your short-term memory ability.

          Think about it: to read a story you have to remember the characters, where they came from, the important keys to the story and the subplots. Getting your brain to do all of this helps with your memory, and it will also expand your vocabulary. As an entrepreneur, you really have no reason not to read! Even if it’s for fun, you should try and read daily.

          5. It’s not going to be easy!

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            Entrepreneurship is rewarding in many different ways: monetarily, spiritually and mentally. Entrepreneurship is also difficult, demanding and lonely. It’s important to remember as an entrepreneur, and in life, in general, you have to take the good with the bad. Your time as an entrepreneur won’t be all sunshine and roses; in fact, you’ll probably experience more stormy days at first.

            Entrepreneurs aren’t very likely to have many friends who understand their stresses of running a business on a daily basis. You might even be forced to sacrifice relationships for your work, which can further make you lonely. Your inner motivation and desire to achieve your goals is what will keep you going.

            “Notice that the stiffest tree is most easily cracked, while the bamboo or willow survives by bending with the wind.” – Bruce Lee

            As Bruce Lee said, you “survive by bending with the wind”. Both good and bad times will come; it’s up to you what you focus on during those times. It may be tempting to do nothing and brood in self-pity during difficult times, and sometimes you may even be justified in feeling like a victim. But any entrepreneur who wants to make progress needs to keep a clear mind in the face of adversity.

            During bad times, ask yourself: “Is what I’m doing now going to help me get out of this situation? Will it help prevent similar situations?” If the answer is no, then it’s clear what you need to do. Don’t shy away from hardships as an entrepreneur. Everything you avoid because it’s “hard” is a chance that you pass up to get better.

            Applying these five things to your business will help you plan out smarter steps to your success. Remember that it’s not always about how hard you work compared to what you work on. The five things discussed in this article will contribute to the growth of your network, business and help you achieve balance in your life.

            Getting rid of the need for perfection, embracing hardships and cherishing your life will help you approach problems with a new perspective. Reading and giving back to your community will make you more knowledgeable about your industry and your community.

            Featured photo credit: New Scientist via newscientist.com

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            Anand Mishra

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            Last Updated on March 30, 2020

            Why You’re Feeling Tired All the Time (And What to Do About It)

            Why You’re Feeling Tired All the Time (And What to Do About It)

            Feeling tired all the time?

            Have you ever caught yourself nodding off when you’re watching TV, listening to someone drone on during a meeting or even driving a car?

            I know I have, especially when I worked 70 hours per week as a High-Tech Executive.

            Feeling tired all the time may be more widespread than you think. In fact, two-fifths of Americans are tired most of the week.[1]

            If you’re tired of feeling tired, then I’ve got some great news for you. New research is helping us gain critical insights into the underlying causes of feeling tired all the time.

            In this article, we’ll discuss the latest reasons why you’re feeling tired all the time and practical steps you can take to finally get to the bottom of your fatigue and feel rested.

            What Happens When You’re Too Tired

            If you sleep just two hours less than the normal eight hours, you could be as impaired as someone who has consumed up to three beers.[2] And you’ve probably experienced the impact yourself.

            Here are some common examples of what happens when you’re feeling tired:[3]

            • You may have trouble focusing because memory and learning functions may be impaired within your brain.
            • You may experience mood swings and an inability to differentiate between what’s important and what’s not because your brain’s neurotransmitters are misfiring.
            • You may get dark circles under your eyes and/or your skin make look dull and lackluster in the short term and over time your skin may get wrinkles and show signs of aging because your body didn’t have time to remove toxins during sleep.
            • You may find it more difficult to exercise or to perform any type of athletic activity.
            • Your immune system may weaken causing you to pick up infections more easily.
            • You may overeat because not getting enough sleep activates the body’s endocannabinoids even when you’re not hungry.
            • Your metabolism slows down so what you eat is more likely to be stored as belly fat.

            Are you saying that feeling tired can make me overweight?

            Unfortunately, yes!

            Feeling tired all the time can cause you to put on the pounds especially around your waist. But it is a classic chicken and egg situation, too.

            Heavier people are more likely to feel fatigued during the day than lighter ones. And that’s even true for overweight people who don’t have sleep apnea (source: National Institutes of Health).

            Speaking of sleep apnea, you may be wondering if that or something else is causing you to feel tired all the time.

            Why Are you Feeling Tired All the Time?

            Leading experts are starting to recognize that there are three primary reasons people feel tired on a regular basis: sleep deprivation, fatigue and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).

            Here’s a quick overview of each root cause of feeling tired all of the time:

            1. Tiredness occurs from sleep deprivation when you don’t get high-quality sleep consistently. It typically can be solved by changing your routine and getting enough deep restorative sleep.
            2. Fatigue occurs from prolonged sleeplessness which could be triggered by numerous issues such as mental health issues, long-term illness, fibromyalgia, obesity, sleep apnea or stress. It typically can be improved by changing your lifestyle and using sleep aids or treatments, if recommended by your physician.
            3. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a medical condition also known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis that occurs from persistent exhaustion that doesn’t go away with sleep.

            The exact cause of CFS is not known, but it may be due to problems with the immune system, a bacterial infection, a hormone imbalance or emotional trauma.

            It typically involves working with a doctor to rule out other illnesses before diagnosing and treating CFS.[4]

            Always consult a physician to get a personal diagnosis about why you are feeling tired, especially if it is a severe condition.

            Feeling Tired vs Being Fatigued

            If lack of quality sleep doesn’t seem to be the root cause for you, then it’s time to explore fatigue as the reason you are frequently feeling tired.

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            Until recently, tiredness and fatigue were thought to be interchangeable. Leading experts now realize that tiredness and fatigue are different.

            Tiredness is primarily about lack of sleep.

            But fatigue is a perceived feeling of being tired that is much more likely to occur in people who have depression, anxiety or emotional stress and/or are overweight and physically inactive (source: Science Direct).

            Symptoms of fatigue include:

            • Difficulty concentrating
            • Low stamina
            • Difficulty sleeping
            • Anxiety
            • Low motivation

            These symptoms may sound similar to those of tiredness but they usually last longer and are more intense.

            Unfortunately, there is no definitive reason why fatigue occurs because it can be a symptom of an emotional or physical illness. But there are still a number of steps you can take to reduce difficult symptoms by making a few simple lifestyle changes.

            How Much Sleep Is Enough?

            The number one reason you may feel tired is because of sleep deprivation which means you are not getting enough high-quality sleep.

            Most adults need 7 to 9 hours of high-quality, uninterrupted sleep per night. If you’re sleep deprived, the amount of sleep you need increases.

            So, quantity and quality do matter when it comes to sleep.

            The key to quality sleep is being able to get long, uninterrupted sleep cycles throughout the night. It typically takes 90 minutes for you to reach a state of deep REM sleep where your body’s healing crew goes to work.

            Ideally, you want to get at least 3 to 4 deep REM sleep cycles in per night. That’s why it’s so important to stay asleep for 7 or more hours.

            Research also shows that people who think they can get by on less sleep don’t perform as well as people who get at least seven hours of sleep a night[5] So, you should definitely plan on getting seven hours of deep restorative sleep every night.

            If you are not getting 7 hours of high-quality sleep regularly, then sleep deprivation is most likely reason you feel tired all the time.

            And that is good news because sleep deprivation is much simpler and easier to address than the other root causes.

            It’s also a good idea to rule out sleep deprivation as the reason why you are tired before moving on to the other possibilities such as fatigue or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which may require a doctor for diagnosis and treatment.

            4 Simple Changes to Reduce Fatigue

            Personally, I’m a big believer in upgrading your lifestyle to uplift your life. I overcame chronic stress and exhaustion by making these four changes to my lifestyle:

            1. Eating healthy, home-cooked meals versus microwaving processed foods or eating out
            2. Exercising regularly
            3. Using stressbusters
            4. Creating a bedtime routine to sleep better

            So, I know it is possible to change your lifestyle even when you’re working crazy hours and have lots of family responsibilities.

            After I made the 4 simple changes in my lifestyle, I no longer felt exhausted all of the time.

            In addition, I lost two inches off my waist and looked and felt better than ever.

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            I was so excited that I wanted to help others replace stress and exhaustion with rest and well-being, too. That’s why I became a Certified Holistic Wellness Coach through the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute.

            Interestingly enough, I discovered that Dr. Sears recommends a somewhat similar L.E.A.N. lifestyle:

            • L is for Lifestyle and means living healthy including getting enough sleep.
            • E is for Exercise and means getting at least 20 minutes of exercise a day ideally for six days a week.
            • A is for Attitude and means thinking positive and reducing stress whenever possible.
            • N is for Nutrition and means emphasizing a right-fat diet, not a low-fat diet.

            The L.E.A.N. lifestyle is a scientifically-proven way to reduce fatigue, get to the optimal weight and to achieve overall wellness.[6]

            And yes, there does seem to be an important correlation between being lean and feeling rested.

            But overall based on my personal experience and Dr. Sear’s scientific proof, the key to not feeling tired all of the time does seem to be 4 simple changes to your lifestyle.

            L — Living Healthy

            Getting enough high-quality sleep every day is the surefire way to help you feel less fatigued, more rested and better overall.

            So, whether you’re sleep deprived or potentially suffering from fatigue or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, you probably want to find a way to sleep better.

            In fact, if you aren’t getting enough sleep, your body isn’t getting the time it needs to repair itself; meaning that if you are suffering from an illness, it’s far more likely to linger.

            As unlikely as it sounds, though, fatigue can sometimes make it difficult to sleep. That’s why I’d recommend taking a look at your bedtime routine before you go to bed and optimize it based on sleep best practices.

            Here are 3 quick and easy tips for creating a pro-sleep bedtime routine:

            1. Unplug

            Many of us try to unwind by watching TV or doing something on an iPhone or tablet. But tech can affect your melatonin production due to the blue light that they emit, fooling your body into thinking it’s still daytime.

            So turn off all tech one hour before bed and create a tech-free zone in your bedroom.

            2. Unwind

            Do something to relax.

            Use the time before bed to do something you find relaxing such as reading a book, listening to soothing music, meditating or taking an Epsom salt bath.

            3. Get Comfortable

            Ensure your bed is comfortable and your room is set up for sleep.

            Make sure you room is cool. 60-68 degrees is the ideal temperature for most people to sleep.

            Also, it’s ideal if your bedroom is dark and there is no noise.

            Finally, make sure everything is handled (e.g., laying out tomorrow’s clothes) before you get into your nice, comfy bed.

            If your mind is still active, write a to-do list to help you fall asleep faster.[7]

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            Above all, be gentle with yourself and count your blessings, some sheep or whatever helps.

            This article also offers practical tips to build a bedtime routine: How to Build a Good Bedtime Routine That Makes Your Morning Easier

            E — Exercise

            Many people know that exercise is good for them, but just can’t figure out how to fit it into their busy schedules.

            That’s what happened in my case.

            But when my chronic stress and exhaustion turned into systemic inflammation (which can lead to major diseases like Alzheimer’s), I realized it was time to change my lifestyle.

            As part of my lifestyle upgrade, I knew I needed to move more.

            My friends who exercise all gave me the same advice: find an exercise you like to do and find a specific time in your schedule when you can consistently do it.

            That made sense to me.

            So, I decided to swim.

            I used to love to swim when I was young, but I hadn’t done it for years. The best time for me to do it was immediately after work, since I could easily get an open swim lane at my local fitness club then.

            Also, swimming became a nice reason for me to leave work on time. And I got to enjoy a nice workout before eating dinner.

            Swimming is a good way to get your cardio or endurance training. But, walking, running and dancing are nice alternatives.

            So find an exercise you love and stick to it. Ideally, get a combination of endurance training, strength training and flexibility training in during your daily 20-minute workout.

            If you haven’t exercised in a while and have a lot of stress in your life, you may want to give yoga a try because you will increase your flexibility and lower your stress.

            A — Attitude

            Stress may be a major reason why you aren’t feeling well all of the time. At least that was the case with me.

            When I worked 70 hours per week as a High-Tech Executive, I felt chronically stressed and exhausted. But there was one thing that always worked to help me feel calmer and less fatigued.

            Do you want to know what that master stress-busting technique was?

            Breathing.

            But not just any old breathing. It was a special form of deep Yogic breathing called the “Long-Exhale Breathing” or “4-7-8 breathing” or “Pranayama” in Sanskrit).

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            Here’s how you do “Long-Exhale Breathing”:

            1. Sit in a comfortable position with your spine straight and your hand on your tummy (so you know you are breathing deeply from your diaphragm and not shallowly from your chest)
            2. Breathe in deeply and slowly from your diaphragm with your mouth closed while you count to 4 (ideally until your stomach feels full of air)
            3. Hold your breath while you count to 7 mentally and enjoy the stillness
            4. Breathe out through your mouth with a “ha” sound while you count to 8 (or until your stomach has no more air in it)
            5. Pause after you finish your exhale while you notice the sense of wholeness and relaxation from completing one conscious, deep, long exhale breath
            6. Repeat 3 times ensuring your exhale is longer than your inhale so you relax your nervous system

            This type of “long-exhale breathing” is scientifically proven to reduce stress.

            When your exhale is twice as long as your inhale, it soothes your parasympathetic nervous system, which regulates the relaxation response.[8]

            Plus, this is a great technique for helping you get to sleep, too.

            N — Nutrition

            Diet is vital for beating fatigue – after all, food is your main source of energy.

            If your diet is poor, then it implies you’re not getting the nutrients you need to sustain healthy energy levels.

            Eating a diet for fatigue doesn’t need to be complicated, time-consuming though.

            For most people, it’s just a case of swapping a few unhealthy foods for a few healthier ones, like switching from low-fiber, processed foods to whole, high-fiber foods.

            Unless your current diet is solely made up of fast food and ready meals, adjusting to a fatigue-fighting diet shouldn’t be too much of a shock to the system.

            Here’re 9 simple diet swaps you can make today:

            1. Replace your morning coffee with Matcha green tea and drink only herbal tea within six hours of bedtime.
            2. Add a healthy fat or protein to your any carb you eat, especially if you eat before bed. Please note that carb-only snacks lead to blood-sugar crashes that can make you eat more and they can keep you from sleeping.
            3. Fill up with fiber especially green leafy vegetables. Strive to get at least 25g per day with at least 5 servings (a serving is the size of your fist) of green vegetables.
            4. Replace refined, processed, low-fiber pastas and grains with zucchini noodles and whole grains such as buckwheat, quinoa, sorghum, oats, amaranth, millet, teff, brown rice and corn.
            5. Swap natural sweeteners for refined sugars and try to ensure you don’t get more than 25g of sugar a day if you are a woman and 30g of sugar a day if you are a man.
            6. Replace ice cream with low-sugar alternatives such as So Delicious Dairy-Free Vanilla Bean Coconut Ice Cream.
            7. Swap omega-6, partially-hydrogenated oils such as corn, palm, sunflower, safflower, cotton, canola and soybean oil for omega-3 oils such as flax, olive and nut oils.
            8. Replace high-sugar yoghurts with low-sugar, dairy-free yoghurts such as Kite Hill Plain Yoghurt with 1g sugar or Lifeway Farmer Cheese with 0g sugar.
            9. Swap your sugar-laden soda for sparkling water with a splash of low-sugar juice

            Also, ensure your diet is giving you enough of the daily essential vitamins and minerals. Most of us don’t get enough Vitamin D, Vitamin B-12, Calcium, Iron and Magnesium. If you are low on any of the above vitamins and minerals, you may experience fatigue and low energy.

            That’s why it’s always worth having your doctor check your levels. If you find any of them are low, then try to eat foods rich in them.

            Alternatively, you might consider a high-quality multi-vitamin or specific supplement.

            The Bottom Line

            If you are tired of feeling tired, then there is tremendous hope.

            If you are tired because you are not getting enough high-quality sleep, then the best remedy is a bedtime routine based on sleep best practices.

            If you are tired because you have stress and fatigue, then the best remedy are four simple lifestyle changes including:

            • Enough High-Quality Sleep with Bedtime Routine
            • Regular Exercise You Love
            • Stress Reduction with Long-Exhale Breathing
            • Fatigue-Reducing Diet

            Overall, adopting a healthier lifestyle Is the ideal remedy for feeling more rested and energized.

            More Tips to Help You Rest Better

            Featured photo credit: Cris Saur via unsplash.com

            Reference

            [1] YouGov: Two-fifths of Americans are tired most of the week
            [2] National Safety Council: Is Your Company Confronting Workplace Fatigue?
            [3] The New York Times: Why Are We So Freaking Tired?
            [4] Mayo Clinic: Chronic fatigue syndrome
            [5] Mayo Clinic: Lack of sleep: Can it make you sick?
            [6] Ask Dr. Sears: The L.E.A.N. Lifestyle
            [7] American Psychological Association: Getting a Good Night’s Sleep
            [8] Yoga International: Learning to Exhale: 2-to-1 Breathing

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