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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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            Last Updated on July 8, 2020

            18 Benefits of Journaling That Will Change Your Life

            18 Benefits of Journaling That Will Change Your Life

            The act of writing in a journal often seems daunting or unnecessary to many people. Even authors who work on novels might shun the idea of daily diaries. What purpose does jotting down words on a regular basis do if not contributing to the next novel, play or song? I know from experience many benefits of journaling that I wish to share.

            1. Understand Yourself Better

            Though many people and even writers avoid keeping journals, I vow to do it more often. Not only do I desire to take up daily journaling but also I plan to do it with pen to paper.

            Some of the benefits I’ve found from my more active days include finding myself in the sense of understanding what matters to me and what I want out of life. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to find a spouse who is my best friend and advocate in raising children. I attribute this and much more to what I learned about myself in keeping journals for years.

            2. Keep Track of Small Changes

            I’ll admit that I never got very far with my guitar lessons, but in writing in a journal, I have seen the ability to track small changes like those that come when you practice anything.

            Those learning a musical instrument often fail to see the small improvements that come with regular practice. Writing won’t help you switch chords any faster, but it will help you to develop a better sense for language and grammar just by doing it.

            3. Become Aware of What Matters

            As you continue to write in a journal, following a stream-of-consciousness feel, you can look back on the topics that you chose to write about. Those issues and emotions that poured out of you will provide insight on to what matters most to you.

            You may not even realize that you’re job is depressing you or that you want to spend more time with your kids until you look over your thoughts that you weren’t really thinking about.

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            4. Boost Creativity

            The idea that the brain and its neural activity across hemispheres encourages learning also shows up in increased creativity. Just like with learning an instrument, your increased activity will inspire your thoughts to connect and reconnect in different ways.

            When I wrote in a journal, I often wrote poetry as well as just my thoughts as they came out. I started to hear poems more in my mind; so much so that I took to scrawling lines on napkins and finding metaphors in mundane activities.

            You really are what you do, so writing helps grow more than being a writer. Writing boosts the way you communicate and structure language, which really is a creative process.

            5. Represents Your Emotions in a Safe Environment

            A journal is as private as it gets. You can lock it in a safe or tuck it under a pillow and no one will accidentally share it on social media or have an opportunity to “leave a comment.”

            Write about your sorrow as much as your happiness and frustration and know that you don’t have to keep your emotions inside your body. You can put them on paper.

            6. Process Life Experiences

            When you take the time to look back over what you’ve written, be it a week or a year later, you will have the distance you need to more objectively interpret your raw feelings.

            Everything from losing a job to losing a loved one can emerge in a new light for a fresh perspective. Figuring out how the benefits of journaling affect your perspective on life will create connection and increase creativity.

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            7. Stress Relief

            In combining the exercise inherent in fine motor coordination that comes from the act of writing with the emotional release of self expression, those who maintain a journal relieve stress.

            Try it out. Go home and write about your day. Write about the traffic. Write about the coffee order the barista got wrong but you didn’t have time to change. See how you can physically purge some of that pent-up stress by putting it on paper.

            8. Provide Direction

            Though journaling is often conducted as an activity without much direction, it often provides direction.

            One of the biggest benefits of journaling is that your chaotic thoughts merge to show a direction in which to head. Asking the right questions is the only way to achieve the best solutions, so look to your journal to find your way toward your next goal.

            9. Solve Problems

            Just as in practicing math problems, we all get better at finding hidden solutions through the act of processing.

            Think of your next goal as X and solve your life problems by reading your journals as word problems. The benefit of journaling here is that you write, explore and process to recognize and then solve problems.

            When life is too in-your-face, you have to step back to see reality. Living in the moment allows us to write in the moment and use that expression to solve problems.

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            10. Find Relief From Fighting

            Solving your problems only comes after time to process, recognize and strategize. Just as in the benefit of journaling where relief comes from the act of writing, relief from fighting comes when you decide to “sit this one out” and communicate one-way.

            Fighting is only productive when the fighters care to communicate and find common ground. When the emotions are as high as the stress levels, writing will function as the best time out.

            11. Find Meaning in Life

            Journaling will show you why you are living, whether you are wallowing in things you wish to change or striving to make the changes. Your life will begin to take on new meaning and your own words will reveal the actions that got you where you are so that you can assess and pave a new path for your future.

            12. Allow Yourself to Focus

            Taking even a small amount of time out of every day will provide you with not only peace of mind but also increased focus. Taking a break to meditate in writing and journaling will sharpen your mental faculties.

            13. Sharpen Your Spirituality

            When we write, we allow all the energy and experiences to flow through us, which often provides further insight into our own spirituality. Even if your parents didn’t raise you to follow a specific religion, your thoughts will start to show you what you believe about the universe and your place in it.

            14. Let the Past Go

            I’ve mentioned a few examples where going back over your writing offers advice and direction, but the simply truth is that writing down our feelings can be the best way to let them go. We can choose to literally throw these pages away when they’re filled with negativity and hate.

            15. Allow Freedom

            Journaling is the perfect way to not only express yourself but to also experience the freedom of being who you are. Your books can stay private or you can publish them. Your freedom stems from your sense of self and your perception of your thoughts.

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            16. Enhance Your Career

            Again, the private act of pen-to-paper processing provides the benefits of journaling mentioned above, but you can also enhance your career when you take similar ideas and categorize, edit and publish them in an online blog.

            Your thoughts will often be personal and express emotions, but another benefit of journaling is uncovering fresh ideas about your work.

            17. Literally Explore Your Dreams

            All the benefits I’ve mentioned explore ideas, thoughts and emotions, which is also what our dreams and nightmares do. Through writing down your dreams from the previous night, you can enhance your creativity as well as connect some of the metaphorical dots from the rest of your journal.

            18. Catalog Your Life for Others

            No one wants to think about dying, but we all die. Leaving a journal will act as a way to reconnect with family and friends left behind. The ideas you wish to keep personal while you process the life you’re living will serve to rekindle and inspire those who loved you through the process.

            We consider our partners our life witnesses, but writing provides a tangible mark on the world.

            Now that you’ve learned all the benefits of journaling, it’s time to start writing a journal:

            Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

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