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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

       

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      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.

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            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!

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                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

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                      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

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                          Last Updated on October 29, 2020

                          How to Develop Mental Toughness and Stay Strong

                          How to Develop Mental Toughness and Stay Strong

                          Are you the kind of person who wants to achieve massive success in your life? Do you have the mental toughness to make that happen?

                          I think we can all agree that no matter your ambitions, achieving success can be difficult; and over time, the daily grind can take a toll on your physical, mental, and emotional energy.

                          Achievers and high performers from all walks of life face ups and downs along the path to success—they face failure, burnout, discouragement, fatigue, self-limiting beliefs, stress, and so much more.

                          How do some people continually strive towards their personal goals year after year while others give up on them? How do those people stay strong and persevere when there is so much stacked against them?

                          Studies now show that mental strength is a critical key to success. If you haven’t read Angela Duckworth’s book Grit, you should. In it, she shows that “the secret to outstanding achievement is not talent but a special blend of passion and persistence she calls ‘grit.’” In other words, mental toughness plays a significant role when it comes to achieving goals.

                          At its core, mental toughness is simply the ability to stick to something when the going gets tough. People with high levels of mental toughness can push beyond these obstacles and forge a path towards success, while those with lower levels of mental toughness may abandon their dreams.

                          The good news is that no matter who you are, what you’ve been told, or what you currently believe, you can develop the mental toughness you need to be successful.

                          1. Develop a Positive Mindset

                          If you’re going to increase your mental toughness and manage stress, the first thing you have to do is focus on building a strong, positive mindset in everyday life.

                          According to the Cleveland Clinic, the average person has 60,000 thoughts per day. Of those, 95% of those thoughts repeat each day and, on average, 80% of repeated ideas are negative.[1]

                          That’s roughly 45,600 negative thoughts per day!

                          Carrying around these negative thoughts is like going on a hike in the mountains with a backpack full of rocks. The hike is hard enough on its own, but having extra junk weighing you down is a recipe for failure.

                          Sometimes, building mental toughness isn’t as much about building new strength as it is about saving your strength for the right tasks. Wouldn’t it be easier to dump the rocks out of the backpack instead of trying to get strong enough to carry the extra weight?

                          Let Go of Self-Limiting Beliefs

                          It’s pretty hard to be mentally tough when you’re constantly beating yourself up. Self-limiting beliefs are any beliefs that hold you back in some way. Here are some examples:

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                          “I’m not smart enough to…”

                          “I don’t have enough experience to…”

                          “I’ve tried that before, and it didn’t go well, so I must just be bad at…”

                          When we allow these self-limiting beliefs to flood our minds, negative self-talk runs rampant, and we crowd out our ability to think positively.

                          When you recognize a self-limiting belief cropping up in your mind, quickly silence it by telling yourself that it’s not true, and then back that up with some positive affirmations:

                          • “I am smart enough; I may just need to do some more research first.”
                          • “I may not have as much experience as someone else, but that’s not going to stop me from trying. I have enough experience to get started. I’ll figure the rest out on the way.”
                          • “Just because I failed at this last time doesn’t mean I’m going to fail this time. My past does not dictate my future.”

                          Get Rid of the All-or-Nothing Thinking

                          Another form of negative thinking that could be preventing you from building mental toughness is all-or-nothing thinking.

                          All-or-nothing thinking is the concept of thinking in extremes. You are either a success or a failure. Your performance was great or awful. If you’re not perfect, then you’re a failure.

                          But this isn’t true!

                          If you’re trying to lose 30 pounds and only lost 28, isn’t that still better than not losing any weight at all? I’d say so!

                          If you allow all-or-nothing thinking to rule your mind, you’ll be on cloud nine when you succeed, but you’ll beat yourself up when you “fail.” Acknowledging the shades of gray in between will allow you to see success more often.

                          When you recognize an all-or-nothing thought, remember to look for the positive in the situation. What did you gain by trying? What would you have missed out on had you not tried? Could you do better if you were to try again?

                          Ditch the Dwelling

                          Self-limiting beliefs and all-or-nothing thinking can lead to a bad case of dwelling on the negative, which is bad news for mental health. If you want to build some mental toughness and keep your mind strong, you have to ditch the dwelling.

                          When we dwell on our misfortunes, we waste massive amounts of energy that we could be using to achieve our goals. When this happens, we’re more likely to quit altogether.

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                          That doesn’t mean you’re not mentally tough; it just means you’re misusing your energy.

                          The next time something bad happens, it’s important to allow yourself to feel the disappointment and frustration, but work on reducing the amount of time you dwell on the situation.

                          If you struggle with this, you can try the following:

                          1. Call a friend or mentor and talk it through with them. Get some outside perspective on your situation.
                          2. Time block your dwelling by allowing yourself to dwell for no more than one hour.
                          3. Then, tell yourself to move on, that you’re human, and you’re allowed to make mistakes or experience setbacks.
                          4. If all else fails, find a good way to distract yourself until you can calm down and reexamine things with a clear mind.

                          The faster you can focus on the positives and move past the problem, the quicker you can get back to achieving success in your life.

                          2. Connect With Your Purpose

                          One of the most critical elements to building mental toughness and keeping a strong and focused mind is having a strong “why” for all of your short and long-term goals.

                          If you set out to achieve a huge goal that you don’t have a “why” for, you’re going to find yourself distracted, discouraged, or disengaged as soon as you experience your first setback.

                          Think about the last time you were working on a goal or resolution, and things weren’t going well. Perhaps you thought you didn’t have enough willpower or discipline.

                          It’s more likely that you just didn’t have a strong enough why.

                          Simon Sinek has been spreading his message “Start with Why” across the globe.[2] In short, he says that:

                          “Your ‘why’ is the purpose, cause or belief that inspires you.”

                          One of the biggest drains on your mental energy is pursuing a goal or a task that you don’t have a why for. Often, we set goals because we like the idea of the goal, not the reality of the goal. Without connecting to our why, we can’t intrinsically motivate ourselves to achieve our most challenging goals.

                          You can learn more on identifying your purpose in this video:

                          Find Intrinsic Motivation

                          Intrinsic motivation is our innate desire to do something, and it comes when we work towards something that satisfies ourselves above all else—not our parents or our bosses or our teachers[3].

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                          Develop mental toughness with intrinsic motivation

                            Let’s say you think you want to quit smoking because you know it’s bad for you, but you really enjoy smoking. If you don’t truly want to quit smoking, it’s going to be nearly impossible, regardless of your willpower or mental toughness.

                            However, if you want to quit smoking because you just had a baby, and you don’t want your baby growing up around smoke, then that “why” is going to give you intrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation is far more powerful than sheer stubborn willpower, and it’s far easier to maintain over the long haul.

                            If you’re trying to develop mental toughness, connecting a why to everything you want to achieve will reduce the effort and energy it will take to achieve those things.

                            3. Find Strength in Unity

                            The final aspect of developing mental toughness is embracing the idea that you’re not in this alone.

                            Bill Gates didn’t build Microsoft alone. Oprah didn’t build her network by herself. Steve Jobs didn’t invent the iPhone without a team. Michelle Obama didn’t implement the “Let’s Move” campaign on her own.

                            Behind all of these successful people were countless other people who were offering support, mentorship, guidance, and encouragement.

                            If you want to develop unmatched mental toughness, you need to understand that you don’t have to go it alone. Even the toughest Navy Seals have a team backing them up.

                            Find a Mentor or Committee of Mentors

                            The benefits of having a great mentor are far too many to list, but to boil it down to the basics, a mentor is someone who will help show you the path to success, discover your greatest strengths, spot and overcome your blind spots, and work through your weaknesses.

                            If you’re struggling to deal with your internal negativity or with finding your purpose, talk it through with a mentor. Sometimes we lose the forest for the trees, and a mentor can help us take a step back and see the bigger picture.

                            Here’s how to find the right mentor for yourself: How to Find a Mentor That Will Help You Succeed

                            Recruit Some Cheerleaders

                            If you want to stay strong, it never hurts to have a group of personal cheerleaders to help you successfully complete your goals. Unlike mentors who are going to jump in and help you address your problems, a group of cheerleaders will help keep your spirits up.

                            Even if you have a strong why and a positive mindset, it’s nearly impossible to maintain a positive attitude 100% of the time. It doesn’t make you weak to need some help from time to time. Having a group of people cheering you on will make all the difference in the world.

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                            As you work towards your goals, tell a few close friends about what you’re doing, and when things get tough, tell them about it. When they give you the pep talk you need, don’t resist their positivity or counter it with your self-limiting beliefs.

                            Allow their optimism to refill your energy and use that energy to press on.

                            Form an Accountability Group

                            Cheerleaders are great, but sometimes we need someone to give us the kick we need to keep going. You might have a strong why for running a marathon or losing 30 pounds, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy; and trying to force yourself to follow through is a sure way to tax your mental energy.

                            Why not save some of your mental energy by forming an accountability group?

                            Find a person or a few people who have similar goals, or at the very least, the need for an accountability partner. Then, form an agreement within the group to push each other every day.

                            4. Learn to Pick Yourself up After Setbacks

                            Building a strong mindset and developing mental toughness isn’t easy! Anyone who’s ever achieved massive success knows that obstacles, setbacks, and failure are inevitable, and you’re no different.

                            As you work on your goals, you’re going to face many ups and downs, but this doesn’t mean that you don’t have mental toughness, willpower, or discipline.

                            When you find yourself in a low spot, instead of giving up right away, ask yourself these questions:

                            • “Am I being too hard on myself?”
                            • “Are negative thoughts distorting my view?”
                            • “What’s the positive side of this setback/obstacle/failure?”
                            • “Why was this goal important to me? What was my purpose?”
                            • “Is this goal still important to me?”
                            • “Who can I ask for help? Who can mentor me or hold me accountable?”

                            Asking yourself these questions is a great way to check in on your mindset. When we get lost in negative thinking or lose connection to our purpose, it’s far too easy to become discouraged.

                            This article provides some useful tips to help you get back on track: How to Deal with Failure and Pick Yourself Back Up

                            Tying It All Together

                            A crucial part of developing mental toughness is learning to recognize negative tendencies and taking action to correct them early on with healthy habits. Developing mental toughness is not about eliminating weakness, but learning how to deal with it and overcome it.

                            No one is perfect, but when we focus on the right things, we can develop a mental toughness worthy of life’s biggest challenges.

                            More on Developing Mental Strength

                            Featured photo credit: Zulmaury Saavedra via unsplash.com

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