Advertising
Advertising

Ask the Entrepreneurs: 12 Strategies That Help Busy Entrepreneurs Stay Sane

Ask the Entrepreneurs: 12 Strategies That Help Busy Entrepreneurs Stay Sane

Ask The Entrepreneurs is a regular series where members of the Young Entrepreneur Council are asked a single question that aims to help Lifehack readers level up their own lives, whether in a area of management, communication, business or life in general.

Here’s the question posed in this edition of Ask The Entrepreneurs:

What daily/weekly ritual do you keep that keeps you sane as an entrepreneur?

1. Meditate Stress Away

Gabrielle Bernstein

    My daily ritual always involves at least fifteen minutes of meditation. When I meditate, I give my brain a break. As an entrepreneur my brain is on overdrive. The key to getting real, quality work done is to take a break and tune in. Meditation offers you time to release and recalibrate.

    Gabrielle Bernstein, Gabrielle Bernstein Inc.

     

     

    2. Feed Yourself with Inspiration

    ashley bodi

      You know when you read a quote and immediately it gives you that instant boost you needed in that moment? I keep my favorite quotes with me and look at them daily to remind myself that no matter what, it’s going to be okay and I can push through. Sometimes you need to be reminded of the simple things, even if it’s through a quote.

      Ashley Bodi, Business Beware

       

      Advertising

      3. Lift Off the Frustration

      Andrew Bachman

        Lifting weights, especially heavy ones, has been something that I have come to rely on as an entrepreneur. The frustrating obstacles that we face every day while blazing new trails can add up. Personally I am driven by my own stress and anxiety, of which I have plenty. Sometimes the only thing that can relieve some of the pressure is a good ass whoopin’ at the gym!

        Andrew Bachman, Scambook.com

         

        4. Stretch to the Limit

        steph-auteri

          It seems like a cliche, but yoga has been my saving grace. It pumps me up for a day of productivity, while simultaneously reducing stress. It helps balance my mood at a time when the days get darker sooner. It stretches me out after hours at the computer. It helps me shut my brain off before going to sleep. I go to a yoga studio five days a week. Scheduling that time for myself keeps me sane.

          Steph Auteri, Word Nerd Pro

           

          5. Break the Rules!

          Matt Wilson

            During my work week, I’m super strict on my nutrition, workouts, sleep and business regimen. To combat this, I constantly break the rules on purpose and have a “cheat day.” Blow off an event, put back a few beers, or sleep in on Friday. Remind yourself that you are human, and the reason you are an entrepreneur is so you can have the freedom and flexibility to make these decisions for yourself.

            Advertising

            Matt Wilson, Under30Media

            6. Focus on Loved Ones

            Tim Jahn

              Playing with my son every day and spending time with my family keeps me grounded and focused on why I’m doing what I’m doing. I always think of how my business and work affects my family, and ways to constantly improve upon that.

              Tim Jahn, matchist

               

               

              7. Join the Team!

              Jason Evanish

                I try to play at least one team sport every week. I find that while your head is in the game and you’re cheering for your teammates, all the stress and work waiting for you washes away. When I return from the game, I find that much of that stress turns out to be gone for good, and I’m refreshed and ready to take on the week’s challenges.

                Jason Evanish, Greenhorn Connect

                 

                8. Coach a Team!

                Advertising

                Aaron Schwartz

                  I coach 3rd-5th grade AAU basketball. No matter what’s going on with Modify or in my personal life, I always forget everything stressful when I walk onto the court with the kids. They’re eager to learn and I can’t help but focus only on their growth. And if I’m really stressed, I can just tell them to do more sprints! (Just kidding.)

                  Aaron Schwartz, Modify Watches

                   

                  9. Touch Base Often

                  Kelly Azevedo

                    I begin each day with a 5-minute check-in call with my accountability partner. We share our daily goals and discuss ongoing challenges and projects. This daily check-in ensures that I make steady progress, and it’s great to know that someone who understands is just a phone call away for support and encouragement.

                    Kelly Azevedo, She’s Got Systems

                     

                    10. Mentor Another Entrepreneur

                    Vanessa Van Edwards

                      Sometimes running your own business can be exhausting and you can lose track of end goals and the passion that got you started in the first place. I find that mentoring other young entrepreneurs reminds you why you started your business. Also, the feel-good vibes you get from helping others are the best way to recharge.

                      Vanessa Van Edwards, Science of People

                      Advertising

                       

                      11. Read Your Calendar

                      Dmitriy Katsel

                        Our calendars hold a lot of information about how we spend out time. If you sit down and scroll through your calendar to take a look at the meetings, phone calls, projects, and tasks that you have had over the past week, it will give you clarity about the things that you have accomplished and about what you can do differently.

                        Dmitriy Katsel, Spring Theory

                         

                         

                         

                        12. Surf…the Internet?

                        Srinivas Rao

                          I’ve found that the best ideas and most productivity occurs when you actually completely disconnect from the work you’re doing. For me this has been surfing…in the ocean! Anything that forces you to be completely present for even a few hours a week does wonders for your mind, body and, as a result, your business.

                          Srinivas Rao, BlogcastFM

                          More by this author

                          9 No-Brainer Ways to Track Employee Time Ask the Entrepreneurs: 12 Things Entrepreneurs Should Stop Doing Ask the Entrepreneurs: 9 Best Note Taking Tools Ask the Entrepreneurs: 12 Tips for Mastering Public Speaking Ask the Entrepreneurs: 9 Tasks You Should be Outsourcing

                          Trending in Productivity

                          1 11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits 2 How Your Attitude Determines Your Success 3 How to Ask for Help When You Need It Most 4 How Much Do You Need to Give Up to Start Over? 5 Is It Really Better to Step Out of Your Comfort Zone?

                          Read Next

                          Advertising
                          Advertising
                          Advertising

                          Last Updated on March 21, 2019

                          11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

                          11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

                          Most gurus talk about habits in a way that doesn’t help you:

                          You need to push yourself more. You can’t be lazy. You need to wake up at 5 am. You need more motivation. You can never fail…blah blah “insert more gibberish here.”

                          But let me share with you the unconventional truths I found out:

                          To build and change habits, you don’t need motivation or wake up at 5 am. Heck, you can fail multiple times, be lazy, have no motivation and still pull it off with ease.

                          It’s quite simple and easy to do, especially with the following list I’m going to show to you. But remember, Jim Rohn used to say,

                          “What is simple and easy to do is also simple and easy not to do.”

                          The important things to remember when changing your habits are both simple and easy, just don’t think that they don’t make any difference because they do.

                          In fact, they are the only things that make a difference.

                          Let’s see what those small things are, shall we?

                          1. Start Small

                          The biggest mistake I see people doing with habits is by going big. You don’t go big…ever. You start small with your habits.

                          Want to grow a book reading habit? Don’t start reading a book a day. Start with 10 pages a day.

                          Want to become a writer? Don’t start writing 10,000 words a day. Start with 300 words.

                          Want to lose weight? Don’t stop eating ice cream. Eat one less ball of it.

                          Whatever it is, you need to start small. Starting big always leads to failure. It has to, because it’s not sustainable.

                          Start small. How small? The amount needs to be in your comfort zone. So if you think that reading 20 pages of a book is a bit too much, start with 10 or 5.

                          It needs to appear easy and be easy to do.

                          Do less today to do more in a year.

                          2. Stay Small

                          There is a notion of Kaizen which means continuous improvement. They use this notion in habits where they tell you to start with reading 1 page of a book a day and then gradually increase the amount you do over time.

                          Advertising

                          But the problem with this approach is the end line — where the “improvement” stops.

                          If I go from reading 1 page of a book a day and gradually reach 75 and 100, when do I stop? When I reach 1 book a day? That is just absurd.

                          When you start a habit, stay at it in the intensity you have decided. Don’t push yourself for more.

                          I started reading 20 pages of a book a day. It’s been more than 2 years now and I’ve read 101 books in that period. There is no way I will increase the number in the future.

                          Why?

                          Because reading 40 to 50 books a year is enough.

                          The same thing applies to every other habit out there.

                          Pick a (small) number and stay at it.

                          3. Bad Days Are 100 Percent Occurrence

                          No matter how great you are, you will have bad days where you won’t do your habit. Period.

                          There is no way of going around this. So it’s better to prepare yourself for when that happens instead of thinking that it won’t ever happen.

                          What I do when I miss a day of my habit(s) is that I try to bounce back the next day while trying to do habits for both of those days.

                          Example for that is if I read 20 pages of a book a day and I miss a day, the next day I will have to read 40 pages of a book. If I miss writing 500 words, the next day I need to write 1000.

                          This is a really important point we will discuss later on rewards and punishments.

                          This is how I prepare for the bad days when I skip my habit(s) and it’s a model you should take as well.

                          4. Those Who Track It, Hack It

                          When you track an activity, you can objectively tell what you did in the past days, weeks, months, and years. If you don’t track, you will for sure forget everything you did.

                          There are many different ways you can track your activities today, from Habitica to a simple Excel sheet that I use, to even a Whatsapp Tracker.

                          Peter Drucker said,

                          “What you track is what you do.”

                          So track it to do it — it really helps.

                          But tracking is accompanied by one more easy activity — measuring.

                          5. Measure Once, Do Twice

                          Peter Drucker also said,

                          “What you measure is what you improve.”

                          So alongside my tracker, I have numbers with which I measure doses of daily activities:

                          For reading, it’s 20 pages.
                          For writing, it’s 500 words.
                          For the gym, it’s 1 (I went) or 0 (didn’t go).
                          For budgeting, it’s writing down the incomes and expenses.

                          Tracking and measuring go hand in hand, they take less than 20 seconds a day but they create so much momentum that it’s unbelievable.

                          6. All Days Make a Difference

                          Will one day in the gym make you fit? It won’t.

                          Will two? They won’t.

                          Will three? They won’t.

                          Which means that a single gym session won’t make you fit. But after 100 gym sessions, you will look and feel fit.

                          What happened? Which one made you fit?

                          The answer to this (Sorites paradox)[1] is that no single gym session made you fit, they all did.

                          No single day makes a difference, but when combined, they all do. So trust the process and keep on going (small).

                          7. They Are Never Fully Automated

                          Gurus tell you that habits become automatic. And yes, some of them do, like showering a certain way of brushing your teeth.

                          But some habits don’t become automatic, they become a lifestyle.

                          What I mean by that is that you won’t automatically “wake up” in the gym and wonder how you got there.

                          It will just become a part of your lifestyle.

                          Advertising

                          The difference is that you do the first one automatically, without conscious thought, while the other is a part of how you live your life.

                          It’s not automatic, but it’s a decision you don’t ponder on or think about — you simply do it.

                          It will become easy at a certain point, but they will never become fully automated.

                          8. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

                          Marshall Goldsmith has a great book with the same title to it. The phrase means that sometimes, you will need to ditch certain habits to make room for other ones which will bring you to the next step.

                          Don’t be afraid to evolve your habits when you sense that they don’t bring you where you want to go.

                          When I started reading, it was about reading business and tactic books. But two years into it, I switched to philosophy books which don’t teach me anything “applicable,” but instead teach me how to think.

                          The most important ability of the 21st century is the ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn. The strongest tree is the willow tree – not because it has the strongest root or biggest trunk, but because it is flexible enough to endure and sustain anything.

                          Be like a willow, adapting to the new ways of doing things.

                          9. Set a Goal and Then Forget It

                          The most successful of us know what they want to achieve, but they don’t focus on it.

                          Sounds paradoxical? You’re right, it does. But here is the logic behind it.

                          You need to have a goal of doing something – “I want to become a healthy individual” – and then, you need to reverse engineer how to get there with your habits- “I will go to the gym four times a week.”

                          But once you have your goal, you need to “forget” about it and only focus on the process. Because you are working on the process of becoming healthy and it’s always in the making. You will only be as healthy as you take care of your body.

                          So you have a goal which isn’t static but keeps on moving.

                          If you went to the gym 150 times year and you hit your goal, what would you do then? You would stop going to the gym.

                          This is why goal-oriented people experience yo-yo effect[2] and why process-oriented people don’t.

                          The difference between process-oriented and goal-oriented people is that the first focus on daily actions while others only focus on the reward at the finish line.

                          Set a goal but then forget about it and reap massive awards.

                          10. Punish Yourself

                          Last two sections are pure Pavlovian – you need to punish bad behavior and reward good behavior. You are the only person who decides what is good and what is bad for you, but when you do, you need to rigorously follow that.

                          Advertising

                          I’ve told you in point #3 about bad days and how after one occurs, I do double the work on the next day. That is one of my forms of punishments.

                          It’s the need to tell your brain that certain behaviors are unacceptable and that they lead to bad outcomes. That’s what punishments are for.

                          You want to tell your brain that there are real consequences to missing your daily habits.[3]

                          No favorite food to eat or favorite show to watch or going to the cinema for a new Marvel movie- none, zero, zilch.

                          The brain will remember these bad feelings and will try to avoid the behaviors that led to them as much as possible.

                          But don’t forget the other side of the same coin.

                          11. Reward Yourself

                          When you follow and execute on your plan, reward yourself. It’s how the brain knows that you did something good.

                          Whenever I finish one of my habits for the day, I open my tracker (who am I kidding, I always keep it open on my desktop) and fill it with a number. As soon as I finish reading 20 pages of a book a day (or a bit more), I open the tracker and write the number down.

                          The cell becomes green and gives me an instant boost of endorphin – a great success for the day. Then, it becomes all about not breaking the chain and having as many green fields as possible.

                          After 100 days, I crunch some numbers and see how I did.

                          If I have less than 10 cheat days, I reward myself with a great meal in a restaurant. You can create your own rewards and they can be daily, weekly, monthly or any arbitrary time table that you create.

                          Primoz Bozic, a productivity coach, has gold, silver, and bronze medals as his reward system.[4]

                          If you’re having problems creating a system which works for you, contact me via email and we can discuss specifics.

                          In the End, It Matters

                          What you do matters not only to you but to the people around you.

                          When you increase the quality of your life, you indirectly increase the quality of life of people around you. And sometimes, that is all the “motivation” we need to start.

                          And that’s the best quote for the end of this article:

                          “Motivation gets you started, but habits keep you going.”

                          Keep going.

                          Advertising

                          More Resources to Help You Build Habits

                          Featured photo credit: Anete Lūsiņa via unsplash.com

                          Reference

                          [1] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Sorites paradox
                          [2] Muscle Zone: What causes yo-yo effect and how to avoid it?
                          [3] Growth Habits: 5 Missteps That Cause You To Quit Building A Habit
                          [4] Primoz Bozic: The Lean Review: How to Plan Your 2019 in 20 Minutes

                          Read Next