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The Best Decision You Can Make for Your Business — That Has Nothing to do With Money

The Best Decision You Can Make for Your Business — That Has Nothing to do With Money
    Sunset by F.M. on flickr

    Imagine two people starting identical companies with the exact same resources, network, and time at their disposal (gender randomly assigned for brevity’s sake):

    • Person #1 wakes up every day with anxiety, stressed about his mounting to-do list. He immediately buries himself in reactive work — striving to please everyone else but himself by responding to emails, taking meetings and delivering what others ask of him. He gets whipped around by his moods — one minute he’s happy and excited, the next he’s tired, anxious, unmotivated and depressed. His productivity on any given day is completely unpredictable — sometimes he wakes up excited to work, and on other days you couldn’t pry him off the couch with a forklift.
    • Person #2 starts her days with purpose. No matter what her mood is upon waking up, she laces up her running shoes and gets her blood pumping with a 20-minute run. She uses that time outside to reflect and plan her day, and the resulting endorphins and morning shower give her energy to launch into her best work. She works diligently on her most important projects first, while she’s feeling sharp and creative. She takes a break in the afternoon by heading to yoga class, which centers and grounds her. By the time she attacks her inbox in the afternoon she already feels accomplished — the emails no longer assault her plans, they support them. Person #2 ends the day feeling calm, happy, confident and empowered.

    Both of these people are me.

    I quit my job at Google two months ago to pursue my passion as an author, speaker and coach, and during my first month of solopreneurship I was Person #1.

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    I wasn’t running my business, my business was running me. And as 100% of the company, the opportunity costs of operating at half-mast were extremely high.

    I knew I had hit a low when I ordered Panda Express and a King-Size Snickers bar on my way home from the airport after a speaking engagement in June. I felt lethargic, unhappy and mad at myself. Where was my discipline and self-respect when I was wanting it most? So I resolved to make a change.

    Within three weeks, I became Person #2 — and it didn’t cost a cent. It didn’t have anything to do with sales, marketing, productivity or inbox management. It had to do with me.

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    I resolved to put my health first.

    I started a three-week cleanse where I completely eliminated caffeine, refined sugar, alcohol, wheat, dairy and red meat from my diet. I committed to going for a 20-minute run first thing in the morning, which is just short enough to be manageable — it’s hard to make the excuse that you don’t have time to run 10 minutes out the front door and 10 minutes back. Finally, I bought an unlimited yoga pass and committed to going a minimum of two times a week; it was so rejuvenating that I ended up going closer to 4-5 times per week.

    During the first three days, I had complete monkey-mind — craving coffee, sugar and TV like the addict I was — unable to focus because I was thinking about them every five minutes. But on the fourth day and every day thereafter, I started noticing something incredible.

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    I felt clear-headed. Creative. Confident. Energized. Productive. HAPPY.

    I was getting more done in one week than I had completed in one month. I was no longer experiencing crazy mood swings or unproductive days. I started sleeping like a rock. I was in a great mood, glowing and energetic at conferences and razor sharp during my coaching and speaking engagements. I was on a roll and I stayed there.

    I used to scoff at the countless magazines that preach healthy eating and exercise — get over yourself! Until I experienced, firsthand, the insanely powerful impact it had on my business’s bottom line (not to mention my actual bottom, which now fits nicely back into my best jeans).

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    How to grow your business, a big goal, or improve your life by putting your body first:

    • Start with four-day wins. This is a concept I learned from Martha Beck, who wrote the book The Four Day Win. That book forever changed how I think about diet and exercise — Beck emphasises tackling one thing at a time, for four days at a time. That’s it! Start with something ridiculously easy and build up confidence and momentum over time.
    • Organize your days around healthy eating and exercise. No matter how much you resist this, thinking “But I don’t have time!” try it. If you try this for one week and don’t see business results, then ignore me. But at least give your body the chance to speak for itself.
    • Track your progress and engage friends. I started this health challenge on my own, but quickly realized it would be more fun with friends, so I created a template that we could all track our progress on (feel free to use it too!). At the end of each week, I emailed the group four questions: How do you feel this week? What are you proud of? What challenges did you face? And what do you want to focus on next week?
    • Optimize for your best energy windows. This is generally common knowledge, but as long as you’re putting your body first, make sure you put your best work first too. Start your days with your most creative, important tasks, and everything will seem easy after that. My favorite book on this subject is Eat that Frog, by Brian Tracy.

    You don’t have to do a crazy cleanse like I did (though I highly recommend Dr. Alejandro Junger’s Clean Program if you are interested); see what experiments you can run in your own life that work for YOU.

    Now that I’m in maintenance mode I’m adding some coffee back in (can’t skip those deliciously foamy lattes forever!) and one cheat day per week, borrowing from Tim Ferris’ Slow Carb Diet. I’ve lost almost 15 pounds without even trying — a very welcome side effect of eating in a way that facilitates my best work.

    Other books that you might find helpful and motivating:

    Just as a business has start-up costs, so does making major health and lifestyle changes. The first few days might feel agonizingly difficult, but the rewards on the other side are absolutely worth it.

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    The Best Decision You Can Make for Your Business — That Has Nothing to do With Money

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    Last Updated on January 2, 2020

    How to Break Out of Your Comfort Zone

    How to Break Out of Your Comfort Zone

    Over time, we all gather a set of constricting habits around us—ones that trap us in a zone of supposed comfort, well below what our potential would allow us to attain. Pretty soon, such habits slip below the level of our consciousness, but they still determine what we think that we can and cannot do—and what we cannot even bring ourselves to try. As long as you let these habits rule you, you’ll be stuck in a rut.

    Like the tiny, soft bodied creatures that build coral reefs, habits start off small and flexible, and end up by building massive barriers of rock all around your mind. Inside the reefs, the water feels quiet and friendly. Outside, you think it’s going to be rough and stormy. There may be sharks. But if you’re to develop in any direction from where you are today, you must go outside that reef of habits that marks the boundaries of your comfort zone. There’s no other way. There’s even nothing specially wrong with those habits as such. They probably worked for you in the past.

    But now, it’s time to step over them and go into the wider world of your unused potential. Your fears don’t know what’s going to be out there, so they invent monsters and scary beasts to keep you inside.

    Nobody’s born with an instruction manual for life. Despite all the helpful advice from parents, teachers and elders, each of us must make our own way in the world, doing the best we can and quite often getting things wrong.

    Messing up a few times isn’t that big a deal. But if you get scared and try to avoid all mistakes by sticking with just a few “tried and true” behaviors, you’ll miss out on most opportunities as well.

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    Lots of people who suffer from boredom at work are doing it to themselves. They’re bored and frustrated because that’s what their choices have caused them to be. They’re stuck in ruts they’ve dug for themselves while trying to avoid making mistakes and taking risks. People who never make mistakes never make anything else either.

    It’s time to pin down the habits that have become unconscious and are running your life for you, and get rid of them. Here’s how to do it:

    1. Understand the Truth about Your Habits

    They always represent past successes. You have formed habitual, automatic behaviors because you once dealt with something successfully, tried the same response next time, and found it worked again. That’s how habits grow and why they feel so useful.

    To get away from what’s causing your unhappiness and workplace blues, you must give up on many of your most fondly held (and formerly successful) habits. and try new ways of thinking and acting. There truly isn’t any alternative. Those habits are going to block you from finding new and creative ideas. No new ideas, no learning. No learning, no access to successful change.

    2. Do Something—Almost Anything—Differently and See What Happens

    Even the most successful habits eventually lose their usefulness as events change the world and fresh responses are called for. Yet we cling on to them long after their benefit has gone.

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    Past strategies are bound to fail sometime. Letting them become automatic habits that take the controls is a sure road to self-inflicted harm.

    3. Take Some Time out and Have a Detailed Look at Yourself—With No Holds Barred

    Discovering your unconscious habits can be tough. For a start, they’re unconscious, right? Then they fight back.

    Ask anyone who has ever given up smoking if habits are tough to break. You’ve got used to them—and they’re at least as addictive as nicotine or crack cocaine.

    4. Be Who You Are

    It’s easy to assume that you always have to fit in to get on in the world; that you must conform to be liked and respected by others or face exclusion. Because most people want to please, they try to become what they believe others expect, even if it means forcing themselves to be the kind of person they aren’t, deep down.

    You need to start by putting yourself first. You’re unique. We’re all unique, so saying this doesn’t suggest that you’re better than others or deserve more than they do.

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    You need to put yourself first because no one else has as much interest in your life as you do; and because if you don’t, no one else will. Putting others second means giving them their due respect, not ignoring them totally.

    Keeping up a self-image can be a burden. Hanging on to an inflated, unrealistic one is a curse. Give yourself a break.

    5. Slow Down and Let Go

    Most of us want to think of ourselves as good, kind, intelligent and caring people. Sometimes that’s true. Sometimes it isn’t.

    Reality is complex. We can’t function at all without constant input and support from other people.

    Everything we have, everything we’ve learned, came to us through someone else’s hands. At our best, we pass on this borrowed existence to others, enhanced by our contribution. At our worst, we waste and squander it.

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    So recognize that you’re a rich mixture of thoughts and feelings that come and go, some useful, some not. There’s no need to keep up a façade; no need to pretend; no need to fear of what you know to be true.

    When you face your own truth, you’ll find it’s an enormous relief. If you’re maybe not as wonderful as you’d like to be, you aren’t nearly as bad as you fear either.

    The truth really does set you free; free to work on being better and to forgive yourself for being human; free to express your gratitude to others and recognize what you owe them; free to acknowledge your feelings without letting them dominate your life. Above all, you’ll be free to understand the truth of living: that much of what happens to you is no more than chance. It can’t be avoided and is not your fault. There’s no point in beating yourself up about it.

    Final Thoughts

    What is holding you in situations and actions that no longer work for you often isn’t inertia or procrastination. It’s the power of habitual ways of seeing the world and thinking about events. Until you can let go of those old, worn-out habits, they’ll continue to hold you prisoner.

    To stay in your comfort zone through mere habit, or—worse still—to stay there because of irrational fears of what may lie outside, will condemn you to a life of frustration and regret.

    If you can accept the truth about the world and yourself, change whatever is holding you back, and get on with a fresh view on life, you’ll find that single action lets you open the door of your self-imposed prison and walk free. There’s a marvelous world out there. You’ll see, if you try it!

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    Featured photo credit: teigan rodger via unsplash.com

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