3 Life-Saving Tips for Entrepreneurs
Entrepreneurship and Innovation Editor Mutiyat Ade-Salu reveals the modern challenges to living a healthy life as an entrepreneur and shares some solutions to combat them
Entrepreneurship and Innovation Editor Mutiyat Ade-Salu reveals the modern challenges to living a healthy life as an entrepreneur and shares some solutions to combat them…
Productivity. How much did you get done today? Did you accomplish every task you set out to do? What about those e-mails and messages you said you’d get back to? In a world filled with ideas and many ways to connect with people across the globe, it’s become harder to focus and remember your initial intention. Focus is the entrepreneur’s golden key to success, whether you’re a street hustler or a businessman with a degree. When you ask, “How do I produce more than I did yesterday, last month, last quarter or last year?”, you set a goal. When you ask, “how do I accomplish the goal?”, you create a plan. Then it’s, “How do I carry it out?” (Step by step.) “Okay, well how do I take the next step?” (Uh oh.) “Help! I’m, paralyzed!”
Paralysis is the loss of the ability to move. This loss can be caused by sickness, a catastrophic event but most notably internal pressures within yourself. The solution to unproductivity is preventing paralysis.
So, how does you prevent paralysis? My suggestion is “take care of home”. Taking care of home is addressing the personal obligations and needs of yourself or your family in order to feel secure enough to handle your passion. Entrepreneurs are notorious for working 24/7 on their passion projects or ventures, even when they are not bound to a 9-to-5 job.
Tip 1: Set 3 time periods in the day to focus on your spiritual needs.
In the morning, use 30 minutes to “gear up”, whether it be through prayer, reading scriptures or positive affirmations. By the afternoon, you will have expended a good amount of energy and will need to “ replenish”. Do this by taking a 10 minutes nap or short meditation practice. (Stay tuned for an updated link to my favorite meditation technique for balance and rejuvenation. It really works.) Finally, at the end of the day, before you sleep you must wind down. This is a crucial step because falling asleep with the day’s worries still percolating in your mind will cause you to actually lose sleep, not to mention the one time of day to restore your brain cells! To wind down” perform activities that are soothing. For some, that means a hot bath (which is one less thing you’ll have to do in the morning), listening to a chill playlist or simply stretching or pressing a hot washcloth on your face and neck. Another activity is setting aside 20 minutes to talk with a loved one or significant other. These suggestions sound simple, but the daily practice of them can take years off of your age and are proven to prevent long-term illnesses.
Speaking of loved ones, how do we entrepreneurs handle boundaries between our personal and professional lives? I admit when I was beginning my entrepreneurial endeavors as an actor I had no boundaries and my professional life took up 95 % of my attention. I allowed last minute auditions and engagements to trump many family events and it took my first boyfriend to point out this imbalance to me. While in hot pursuit of a higher profile gig or more lucrative contract, maintaining family connections became less important to me. Those connections are hard to repair when people give up chasing you!)
Tip 2: Although it’s hard to do earlier in your career, establish strong boundaries between your personal and professional space to avoid regrets later on.
As you gain more traction with deals and contracts, it’s awfully easy for clients to demand more and more of your time. Remember, as an entrepreneur YOU draw the lines. Another area to draw the line is in your workspace. Without a boss to answer to, it’s too natural to sleep where you work and work where you eat. I’m willing to bet many entrepreneurs who work from home do not commit to keeping work in their home office or designated workspace. However, maintaining consistency in the use of your work area sends clear signals to your body when it’s time to sleep, when it’s time to eat, and when it’s time to work. As free as most entrepreneurs like to be, most of us will need physical boundaries within our home to help us improve productivity and keep away distractions – just like when we were school kids trying to get homework done. (Kudos to those of you who get out the house and head down to the coffee shop or library instead. So proactive of you!)
Now here’s the biggest obstacle of all: maintaining a healthy and optimistic outlook on your venture. Look, we all know most businesses and startups fail on the first try and even when one gets going it will inevitably meet a decline in popularity or sales volume. Whether it’s an epic failure or a small lapse in judgement, it’s important to not destroy your own spirit. There is a reason you started the venture and a reason why you made it to the point where you’re at. Being an entrepreneur requires you to always remember your abilities, your purpose, and your vision so that you can finish the big picture. (Word of advice: Don’t believe your initial idea is the big picture. The picture is actually greater and more meaningful than you can imagine right now.)
Tip 3: Make a habit of recalibrating your business model, your product or service, the tools you use to provide it and, most importantly, your attitude.
There’s a difference between having a negative disposition about your work and a realistic one. Be honest with yourself about your own intentions. Are you really trying to follow in “Joe Schmoe’s” footsteps or are you actually trying to create your own path? Either way is fine; just be real and the right attitude will reveal itself. Speaking of “Joe Schmoe”, if you’re really a “beta” female or male, stop operating like an “alpha”. (And vice versa.) Your natural inclination is a God-given gift to be used specifically to your advantage. To maintain a healthy sense of self on your venture, always remember who you are while following Joe Schmoe and don’t doubt who you are if you decided to create your own path.
I’ll end this on a personal note: in 2013 I was given a serious health diagnosis by my doctor. Afterwards, I discovered that a hormonal imbalance caused by a heavy reliance on coffee and carbohydrates was responsible. I relied on those things to be more productive and have a chipper attitude while my work-life boundaries were getting looser. Now, I watch what I consume and the boundaries I create in my life like a hawk. African culture values ambition and worships those who possess it. However, to be truly successful and have longevity, you must value your mental, spiritual, and physical health even more.
Curious about more ways to balance your life as an entrepreneur? Check out some advice from Petra Starkva, M.A. on temperament, Martha C. White on working from home, or Bryanda Law for a reminder on how to incorporate play into your workday.
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