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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 October 9, 2018

            Why Am I Exhausted? The Real Causes and How to Fix It Forever

            Why Am I Exhausted? The Real Causes and How to Fix It Forever

            Do you say “I’m exhausted” all the time? Do you constantly feel exhausted for no reason?

            Fatigue shows up in many ways including pure exhaustion, the inability to concentrate, anger, frustration and behavioral issues, memory problems, decreased work performance, and slower reaction times. Chronic fatigue has also been linked to medical problems including obesity, hypertension, depression, diabetes, as well as increased automobile accidents.

            We attempt to combat fatigue with coffee, sugar, energy drinks, vitamins and a variety of other products that claim to increase our energy and stamina. But what if your exhaustion is trying to tell you something?

            If you’re getting enough sleep and you’re still feeling exhausted, it’s time to stop, take a step back and look at what else is contributing to your exhaustion.

            As a life-coach and consultant with a diverse background, I like to look at things from a holistic view – from multiple levels – including your body, mind and spirit.

            So before you reach for that next cup of coffee, the 3pm sugary snack or the toxic energy drink, let’s look at some other reasons why you might be tired all the time, and more importantly, what you can do about it.

            Here are 11 potential reasons why you’re exhausted even when get enough rest, and what you can do about it.

            1. You are out of alignment mentally, emotionally or spiritually.

            Essentially, you’re off track with who you are and what works for you. Maybe you’re unhappy, unfulfilled, stressed out or just plain bored with some areas of your life. You might be in a relationship that isn’t working, a job you can’t stand or a situation that drains your energy.

            Think about a time in your life when you were in the flow, in the zone, and totally engaged and excited about what you were doing. How much sleep did you need then? Even after only a few hours, my guess is you probably found yourself jumping out of bed in the morning without an alarm clock, excited about embarking on the day.

            On the flipside, think about a time in your life when you were in a relationship or job that zapped your energy. No matter how much sleep you got, you probably found it difficult to get out of bed in the morning and were tempted to hit that snooze button just a few more times.

            We all have things that make us feel great and energized and things that completely zap our energy. Maybe you’re someone who likes to move quickly but you’re drowning in detail; maybe you’re someone who thrives when you are on top of things and you’re feeling like everything is completely out of control. Or maybe you thrive on spontaneity and variety and you’re bored with your life.

            When I asked my 11-year-old daughter why she thought people are tired even when we get enough rest, here’s what she said.

            “Maybe people are bored and so they’re tired.”

            Ever wonder why you can’t drag your kid out of bed for school on the weekdays but they pop out of bed on the weekend? Perhaps this is the culprit.

            I had a client share this sentiment recently as she described a period of time in her life: “My boss sucked, the work was boring and it made me tired all the time.”

            Exactly.

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            When you’re doing things that align with who you are, in environments that align with what you need, you will feel more energized and alive. On the contrary, when you’re in environments that go against your grain, you will feel drained and de-energized.

            What can you do?

            Take a step back and identify what’s not working. Figure out what you want and work towards it. Do things that give you energy.

            What makes you feel healthy and alive, energized and excited? What gets you in the flow and makes you feel most like you? Aim to get more of that in your life.

            Find more ways to be in alignment with who you are with these tips:

            How to Get Motivated and Be Happy Every Day When You Wake Up

            2. You are out of alignment physically.

            When we are structurally out of alignment, it can cause all sorts of issues. When things aren’t moving properly, it makes it hard for your body to do its job. Not to mention, pain is exhausting and zaps energy. And we are pretty hard on our bodies, aren’t we? We drag them around and tell them what to do. They need to be taken care of too.

            Here’s what Chiropractor, Dr. Ruth Ziemba, who specializes in NSA (Network Spinal Analysis) has to say:

            All of life is energy. We are energy. Any disturbance or blockages to the energy flow creates imbalances… Physical, mental and emotional stressors can cause subluxations (misalignment of the vertebrae) which interfere with signals getting clearly through your body. This can result in many health problems, including fatigue and insomnia.

            Recently, I was feeling tired all the time – and felt like I was doing “everything else” right. So, I went to see my chiropractor and a cranial sacral therapist. Two days later, I felt much more energized and clear in my head.

            I love the analogy I was once given by a chiropractor: “It doesn’t matter how well you can play an instrument if the instrument is out of tune.”

            Such is true with our bodies.

            What can you do?

            Get some body work. This might include getting a massage, acupuncture, chiropractic, reiki, cranial sacral therapy – anything that works for you.

            Don’t know where to start? Ask a friend or colleague for a recommendation. Even better if you have a friend in the field who can refer you to another practitioner. And make sure to schedule regular body work, not just when you need it.

            3. You are not eating right (or enough).

            What – and how much – you eat has a significant effect on your energy levels.

            While there are many different diet protocols, there is one thing all the experts can agree on: sugar and processed foods make you feel sluggish and exhausted. They make your blood sugar go haywire, causing you to feel a brief period of energy followed by a crash.

            Paradoxically, those are the very things we reach for when we need a hit of energy.

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            What can you do?

            I’ve found two things to be consistently true:

            One, you need to eat real, clean food. The food you’re putting into your body is either real or it’s not. Avoid processed foods and especially refined sugars. You’re going to feel so much better for it.

            Two, find what works for YOU. Gluten-free, Paleo, Mediterranean, high-fat, plant-based, you name it. Experts and well-meaning friends and family may tell you what’s best, but no one knows your body as well as you do. Pay attention, do you feel energized or fatigued after you eat certain foods? What works – and what doesn’t for YOU? Our bodies have intrinsic wisdom if we are willing to listen – and hear them.

            4. You are not really sleeping.

            We’ve established that you’re (hopefully) getting enough sleep. But are you getting enough high-quality sleep?

            Some of the top causes of poor sleep quality include: being on electronics right before bed, interruptions, an uncomfortable mattress or the wrong pillow, grinding your teeth, an inconsistent sleep routine or the fact that you’re not getting through all of the sleep cycles.

            What can you do?

            Start with the basics:

            Get off your electronics at least an hour before bed, make sure you have a comfortable pillow and mattress, set a consistent sleep routine, reduce outside noise and sleep in a well-darkened room or wear an eye mask.

            If you have difficulty falling asleep or have poor sleep quality, this guide will help you get a good night’s sleep back:

            Poor Sleep Quality Comes from All the Things You Do Since Morning

            5. You are stressed or worrying too much.

            When you’re stressed, you produce more cortisol (the stress hormone), which can significantly affect your sleep.[1] This is why one of the common side effects of stress is sleep problems.

            On top of stress hormones, excessive worry can drain your energy. When you worry, you’re using energy. It’s like when you have an app on your phone that takes up a lot of battery and you have it constantly running the background, your battery will drain more quickly. Such is true with worry and stress.

            I think of this very simply. We all start the day with 100 units of energy to use throughout the day. If you’re using half of your energy units worrying, you’re inevitably going to be tired.

            What can you do?

            Find things that reduce your stress levels. I’ve seen clients have great success with yoga, meditation and exercise. Worrying too much? Get a clear plan in place to take action on what’s worrying you.

              6. You are not breathing deeply enough.

              Deep breathing increases circulation by bringing oxygen to your muscles and brain. This increased oxygen content in the bloodstream leads to greater energy and healthier muscles, organs and tissues.

              To highlight the benefits of deep breathing, I reached out to longtime Yoga Instructor & Ayurveda Wellness Counselor, Vivica Schwartz. Here’s what she shared:[2]

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              “Most people breathe in to the chest only (shallow breathing) and don’t allow the breath to reach deeper into the abdominal region, due to stress and anxiety. Shifting the breath down, so that it expands the belly (and all the muscles that comprise the diaphragm) is one of the best ways to shift our awareness, quiet the mind, release tension and increase our energy levels”.

              What happened when you started to read this one? Did you start breathing more deeply? Great, you’re already on your way.

              What can you do?

              Make a conscious effort to breathe deeply, more often. Try this from Vivica:

              1. Place one hand on your chest and the other on your lower belly.
              2. Breath smoothly in and out through the nose, noticing how your breath expands three-dimensionally in the ribcage.
              3. Now begin to shift the inhalation into the lower abdomen first, so that the lower hand rises first, then fill the chest area.
              4. Reverse the process on the exhalation, emptying the chest area first, then the lower belly.
              5. Continue like this for a few rounds, visualizing the diaphragm contracting and pushing down and expanding the belly area.

              7. You are hanging out with the wrong crowd.

              Have you ever known someone who “sucks the life out of you”? After spending time together, you feel tired, drained and exhausted? “Energy vampires” do just that, they suck your energy. It doesn’t matter how much sleep you’re getting; if you’re spending time with people who drain your energy, you’re going to feel tired.

              What can you do?

              Grab some garlic and your stake and ditch the energy vampires. Make a conscious effort to hang out with people who feed your soul and make you feel energized and alive.

              If you need a little help to spot these people out, here it is: 15 Signs Of Negative People

              8. You are not moving.

              There’s been a lot of research conducted over many years that shows physical activity and exercise improves energy and decreases fatigue.

              In a widely acknowledged 2006 study published in Psychological Bulletin, researchers analyzed 70 studies on exercise and fatigue which involved more than 6,800 people. Over 90% of the studies showed the same thing: Sedentary people who completed a regular exercise program reported improved fatigue compared to those that did not exercise.

              What can you do?

              Get moving! Find ways to increase your exercise and movement. General guidelines are 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes per week of vigorous activity (or a combination of the two). This can be as simple as taking the stairs instead of the elevator, walking 20 minutes a day or participating in a sport you enjoy.

              Here’re some tips for you: How to Instantly Fall in Love With Moving and Start Shaking off the Extra Pounds

              9. You are dehydrated.

              The human body is composed of 50-65% water. Some parts of our bodies, like our brain, heart and lungs are more than 70% water. This means even mild dehydration can cause your energy levels to fall.

              Fatigue is a telltale sign you are dehydrated. In fact, in a survey of 300 doctors in the UK, 1 in 5 patients who saw their doctor for symptoms such as fatigue and tiredness simply weren’t drinking enough water.

              What can you do?

              First and foremost, drink enough water. A simple rule of thumb is eight 8-ounce glasses per day. And before you reach for your coffee in the morning, reach for a glass of water first.

              However, Doctor and hydration expert Dr. Zach Bush noted,

              “Proper hydration is not simply infusing your body with water. More specifically, it’s about getting the water inside your cells. To do that, you need to improve the electrical charges across your cellular membranes. Strategies that improve the electrical charge across your membranes include: reducing EMF (electromagnetic field) exposure, increasing electrolytes, and boosting your fiber intake.”

              So, try this intensive hydration protocol: Drink 4 ounces of water every 30 minutes from 7am-7pm for 3 days. During this intense hydration, add electrolytes to every other 4-ounce dose. Then give your body a break from food and water between 7pm and 7am.

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              Learn more about intracellular hydration with Dr. Bush here .

              10. You are too busy.

              You know the saying, “If you want something done, ask a busy person.” I say, leave the busy person alone. They clearly have enough on their plate.

              I work with many clients, especially moms, who wonder why they are so tired all the time. When I ask them to tell me about “a day in their life”, I get something like this: 6am wake-up , exercise, get the kids off to school, work, drive to after-school activities, get dinner on the table, do hosework, coordinate schedules, bath and bed time (for the kids of course), and then back to work after the kids go to bed. And they wonder why they are tired?

              I get it. I’ve been there and I have to be careful of this myself. As a working mom of three young girls, who also wants to be social and active in my community, I know all too well the life of being busy. I’ve had to reign it in, create strategies and make very conscious decisions.

              What can you do?

              Look at your life as an outside observer or “fly on the wall”. What do you notice? Maybe you need to learn to say no? Perhaps you need to take a step back and identify what’s most important? Or set better boundaries?

              Perhaps you need to delegate more, outsource or just get some stuff off YOUR plate! Take just ONE thing and start from there.

              If you want extra advice on this, check out this guide:

              The Ultimate Guide to Prioritizing Your Work And Life

              11. There is something else going on.

              If you’ve tried everything above, you are getting enough sleep and you are still tired, you may want to see your doctor or healthcare professional to uncover any underlying issues.

              Amongst other things, what leads to exhaustion could be medication side effects and other health concerns including thyroid and adrenal dysfunction, anemia and sleep apnea.

              What can you do?

              Talk to your doctor. Seriously. Make an appointment.

              If you’re sleeping enough and doing all the “right” things above and you still feel tired, it’s important to identify what could be the cause.

              The bottom line

              If you’re sleeping enough and still find yourself tired and exhausted all the time, it’s time to step back and see which of these reasons resonate with you.

              In order to get a different result, you have to DO something differently. In order to be more energized and less exhausted, you’re going to need to make some changes.

              What changes will you make? Are you going to eat better, exercise more, stay hydrated, take something off your plate, reassess the job you hate or relationship that’s draining you?

              Take a few minutes right now and think of 1-3 things you’re going to try. Write them down in your journal, on your phone or send an email to yourself.

              Change takes action and it’s time for change. You’ve got this. Take action now and your energy levels will be glad you did!

                Reference

                [1]Dr. Doni: How Cortisol Affects Your Sleep
                [2]Vivica Schwartz,Yoga Instructor & Ayurveda Wellness Counselor

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