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Ask the Entrepreneurs: 13 Ways to Stay Productive on Your Darkest Days

Ask the Entrepreneurs: 13 Ways to Stay Productive on Your Darkest Days

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:

Failure can be pretty devastating but it’s part of business. What trick do you use to stay productive on those dark days?

1. Keep a Thank Bank

Martina Welke

    I started keeping an email folder labeled “Thank Bank” in the early days after starting our business to keep all the supportive messages, positive comments and thoughtful introductions I received. On the really hard days, I go back through the folder to be reminded of all the people who believe in what we’re building, and it never fails to motivate me to forge ahead.

    Martina Welke, Zealyst

     

    2. Play With Positive People

    Kelly Azevedo

      It’s easy to get down in the dumps and attract all those people who knew “that would never work” and like to wallow in your misery. Instead, consciously seek out the positive people you can work with who will lift you up after a failure. These people don’t necessarily have to be entrepreneurs, but it helps when others know what you’re dealing with and can provide perspective.

      Kelly Azevedo, She’s Got Systems

       

      3. Practice Meditation

      Robert-J.-Moore

        Meditation is a great way to gain perspective by putting emotional distance between you and the stressful things in your life. It’s a great complement to the lows you experience on the bad days.

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        Robert J. Moore, RJMetrics

         

         

        4. Take a Step Back

        peter minton

          Go for a walk and breathe some fresh air, grab lunch or drinks with some friends, call your family, play with your kids, whatever works for you to refocus and gain some perspective. Remember why (and for whom) you are working so hard, take that deep breath and attack that next challenge.

          Peter Minton, Minton Law Group, P.C.

           

           

          5. Try Music and Napping

          Michael Bruny

            I use a playlist I call “Get It Going.” I also leverage naps as a reset button. When I get up, it’s a brand-new start.

            Michael Bruny, The New Art of Conference Networking

             

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            6. Focus on Getting Back Up

            David Ehrenberg

              I have faith in myself and in what I’m creating. And I remember that everyone who swings big misses sometimes — failure doesn’t matter, just the ability to get back up and go for it again. In the Bay Area, there is no stigma attached to failure. Here, people are allowed to fail because there’s a belief that in an environment where failure is allowed, there is the ability to create something new.

              David Ehrenberg, Early Growth Financial Services

               

              7. Use Failure as Motivation

              Bryan Silverman

                We use failures and naysayers as our motivation to continue to push. With each failure, we know that we are able to learn, and we are that much closer to the next success. Our fellow employees, due to our company culture, help foster that motivational mindset with one another as well.

                Bryan Silverman, Star Toilet Paper

                 

                 

                8. Look at the Past

                Wade Foster

                  Simply looking at a graph of our results over the past year will show the remarkable progress we’ve made. On bad days, we’re still a thousand times better than we were on day one.

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                  Wade Foster, Zapier

                   

                   

                  9. Keep Your Perspective

                  Jeremy Hitchcock

                    Perspective is the silver lining in the dark cloud of failure. Entrepreneurs are usually successful because they have both a willingness to serve and a love for solving problems. If there’s a problem in 2013, it means that the problem is hard. Realizing things don’t happen overnight and remembering why you’re working so hard to begin with are the best ways to get through even the darkest of days.

                    Jeremy Hitchcock, Dyn

                    10. Focus on Action

                    Elizabeth Saunders

                      You can’t guarantee success, but you can decide what actions you will take each day to move yourself and your business forward. When I need to increase my motivation and productivity, I come up with a series of actions to take. Then, I focus on completing those and celebrating what I can control (actions) without worrying about what I can’t control (results).

                      Elizabeth Saunders, Real Life E®

                       

                      11. Learn From Failure

                      Ziver Birg

                        Always remember that experience is the result of failing and learning from that failure. As long as you’re learning from failure, you’re growing and improving. Always remember this, and smile in the face of failure. Positive energy is contagious. If you’re positive, chances are your team will also be positive. It’s hard not to feel great in a super positive environment like that.

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                        Ziver Birg, ZIVELO

                         

                        12. Leave and Start Fresh Tomorrow

                        Andrew Angus

                          On the darkest of days, I don’t use a trick to stay productive. It just won’t work. There are times when you have to realize that no matter how bad things are, you are in no shape to fix them, and you are only going to make them worse — so I leave. I get a massage, get a good night’s sleep and start again the next day. You need to end the pain quickly and start fresh.

                          Andrew Angus, Switch Video

                           

                          13. Realize Time Brings Perspective

                          Michael Costigan

                            Being effective at doing what you do is much more important than always being productive. If you experience a failure, even if it’s a massive failure and you decide to take the rest of the day off to unwind and do something you find happiness in, it’s okay! Sometimes, we think that we always need to be reacting to problems; we spin our wheels and don’t always realize that time brings perspective.

                            Michael Costigan, Youth Leadership Specialist

                             

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                            Last Updated on June 3, 2020

                            How to Write SMART Goals (With SMART Goals Templates)

                            How to Write SMART Goals (With SMART Goals Templates)

                            Everyone needs a goal. Whether it’s in a business context or for personal development, having goals help you strive towards something you want to accomplish. It prevents you from wandering around aimlessly without a purpose.

                            But there are good ways to write goals and there are bad ways. If you want to ensure you’re doing the former, keep reading to find out how a SMART goals template can help you with it.

                            The following video is a summary of how you can write SMART goals effectively:

                            What Are SMART Goals?

                            SMART Goals

                            refer to a way of writing down goals that follow a specific criteria. The earliest known use of the term was by George T. Doran in the November 1981 issue of Management Review, however, it is often associated with Peter Drucker’s management by objectives concept.[1]

                            SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. There are other variations where certain letters stand for other things such as “achievable” instead of attainable, and “realistic” instead of relevant.

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                            What separates a SMART goal from a non-SMART goal is that, while a non-SMART goal can be vague and ill-defined, a SMART goal is actionable and can get you results. It sets you up for success and gives you a clear focus to work towards.

                            And with SMART goals comes a SMART goals template. So, how do you write according to this template?

                            How to Write Smart Goals Using a SMART Goals Template

                            For every idea or desire to come to fruition, it needs a plan in place to make it happen. And to get started on a plan, you need to set a goal for it.

                            The beauty of writing goals according to a SMART goals template is that it can be applied to your personal or professional life.

                            If it’s your job to establish goals for your team, then you know you have a lot of responsibility weighing on your shoulders. The outcome of whether or not your team accomplishes what’s expected of them can be hugely dependant on the goals you set for them. So, naturally, you want to get it right.

                            On a personal level, setting goals for yourself is easy, but actually following through with them is the tricky part. According to a study by Mark Murphy about goal setting, participants who vividly described their goals were 1.2 to 1.4 times more likely to successfully achieve their goals.[2] Which goes to show that if you’re clear about your goals, you can have a higher chance of actually accomplishing them.

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                            Adhering to a SMART goals template can help you with writing clear goals. So, without further ado, here’s how to write SMART goals with a SMART goals template:

                            Specific

                            First and foremost, your goal has to be specific. Be as clear and concise as possible because whether it’s your team or yourself, whoever has to carry out the objective needs to be able to determine exactly what it is they are required to do.

                            To ensure your goal is as specific as it can be, consider the Ws:

                            • Who = who is involved in executing this goal?
                            • What = what exactly do I want to accomplish?
                            • Where = if there’s a fixed location, where will it happen?
                            • When = when should it be done by? (more on deadline under “time-bound”)
                            • Why = why do I want to achieve this?

                            Measurable

                            The only way to know whether or not your goal was successful is to ensure it is measurable. Adding numbers to a goal can help you or your team weigh up whether or not expectations were met and the outcome was triumphant.

                            For example, “Go to the gym twice a week for the next six months” is a stronger goal to strive for than simply, “Go to the gym more often”.

                            Setting milestone throughout your process can also help you to reassess progress as you go along.

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                            Attainable

                            The next important thing to keep in mind when using a SMART goals template is to ensure your goal is attainable. It’s great to have big dreams but you want your goals to be within the realms of possibility, so that you have a higher chance of actually accomplishing them.

                            But that doesn’t mean your goal shouldn’t be challenging. You want your goal to be achievable while at the same time test your skills.

                            Relevant

                            For obvious reasons, your goal has to be relevant. It has to align with business objectives or with your personal aspirations or else, what’s the point of doing it?

                            A SMART goal needs to be applicable and important to you, your team, or your overall business agenda. It needs to be able to steer you forward and motivate you to achieve it, which it can if it holds purpose to something you believe in.

                            Time-Bound

                            The last factor of the SMART goals template is time-bound (also known as “timely”). Your goal needs a deadline, because without one, it’s less likely to be accomplished.

                            A deadline provides a sense of urgency that can motivate you or your team to strive towards the end. The amount of time you allocate should be realistic. Don’t give yourself—or your team—only one week if it takes three weeks to actually complete it. You want to set a challenge but you don’t want to risk over stress or burn out.

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                            Benefits of Using a SMART Goals Template

                            Writing your goals following a SMART goals template provides you with a clearer focus. It communicates what the goal needs to achieve without any fuss.

                            With a clear aim, it can give you a better idea of what success is supposed to look like. It also makes it easier to monitor progress, so you’re aware whether or not you’re on the right path.

                            It can also make it easier to identify bottlenecks or missed targets while you’re delivering the goal. This gives you enough time to rectify any problems so you can get back on track.

                            The Bottom Line

                            Writing goals is seemingly not a difficult thing to do. However, if you want it to be as effective as it can be, then there’s more to it than meets the eye.

                            By following a SMART goals template, you can establish a more concrete foundation of goal setting. It will ensure your goal is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound—attributes that cover the necessities of an effectively written goal.

                            More Tips About Goals Setting

                            Featured photo credit: Estée Janssens via unsplash.com

                            Reference

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