“All that we are is the result of what we have thought.” —Buddha
When I stepped into becoming an entrepreneur, the last thing I thought I had to do was to change the way I thought. I believed I had exactly the right mindset for this new challenge. Thinking logically was one of my strengths; it would serve me well as I took on the new title of entrepreneur. But that is not what the Buddha was saying.
Putting together to-do lists, calendars, business plans, and research papers appealed to me. I love inundating myself with facts, case studies, and scenarios, which would all serve me as my business launched. But that is not what the Buddha was saying.
Diving into meetings and networking events, sharing things I knew and had experienced, excited me as embarked on the journey of becoming an entrepreneur. But that is not what the Buddha was saying.
In fact, it took quite some time for me to understand the Buddha’s comment at the top of this page. It didn’t mean my skills and strengths; it meant the beliefs about myself I held so deep down that sometimes I wasn’t even aware of them. If I wanted to be successful, I was going to have to change the thoughts that floated through my mind when I wasn’t filling it with facts and figures.
The little voices in my head that I never dealt with prior to launching my business—the ones that said I couldn’t do it, that it would all go wrong—resurfaced, screaming, as I took the big step. Those strident inner voices gleefully unpacked all the baggage I had tucked away in the mistaken hope that if I ignored it it would disappear. The time had come to face my fears of failure, defeat, and uncertainty.
Fast forward: I am now in year four of my business and have finally begun to understand and practice what the Buddha said. I have been retraining my brain to take a successful perspective, instead of my previous perspective of failure and doubt. Everyday I begin with a practice of thinking and creating from a place of success. I won’t kid you—this exercise is the equivalent to lifting a 300-pound barbell over your head, every day. It’s hard work. But it is the necessary foundation to success.
Below are suggestions and advice I wish I had received prior to embarking on my entrepreneurial journey. Use the techniques that speak to you; store the others away for a rainy day. These methods will guide you to a place of successful thoughts and sustain your mental and physical strength.
1. Practice being successful
Your language, your attitude, your dress, and the impression you project must be one of having achieved success. David Cain of Raptitude says, “We often regard the ‘baby steps’ explanation as being the complete story, because we presume that success is more or less just a matter of effort. But there’s something more important at play that we often miss, which is the change in self-image that always comes along with a successful change in habit or behavior.… This sense is the thing that makes the real difference in any personal change. It makes the effort happen or not happen.” So make it happen.
This simple, free, easy practice is the seed that helps you grow. The benefits of regular meditation include increased energy, patience, and focus—exactly what entrepreneurs need. According to the Mayo Clinic, meditation helps clear away information overload, which can contribute to stress. Practicing meditation will help your brain to rest and allow it to filter out the things that are unimportant, leaving you ample room for focus and creativity. It’s easy to begin a meditation practice. Start by taking a moment and a deep breath the next time you’re at a red light or stuck in traffic. Begin reaping the benefits immediately.
An exercise practice is essential, especially during the startup and launching phase of your business. A strong and healthy body will carry you through anything that your new business venture will throw at you. How much time is enough? Five, ten, twenty minutes a day, or whatever you can fit into your schedule. What kind? Walking, running, yoga, boxing, cycling, dancing—whatever gets your heart rate up and gets your mind off your business for a little while is all that’s required. Do an activity that you love for at least a few minutes a day. You’ll be amazed at the mental and physical results!
4. Thinking Time
What’s the one thing that extremely successful people do consistently? They schedule time to think. You are on a path to be successful, so take time out to think. Begin by scheduling thinking time into your daily or weekly routine, five minutes in the morning or twenty minutes in the afternoon. Make it part of your schedule, same time every day or every week, and reserve that time to just think. Here are some questions to prompt your thoughts: Am I hitting my targets? Will I reach my goals on schedule? What do I need to change? What do I need to add?
Maybe you have a particular challenge you can’t quite figure out. Instead of worrying about it all day, confront that challenge and think about it deeply for a set amount of time. This practice will help you devise solutions as well as assist you in coming up with better, bigger, brighter ideas!
Yes, you need to schedule downtime away from your business and planning! I know you’ve read articles and books on other successful entrepreneurs who worked twenty-two hours a day, seven days a week to get their businesses up and running. But that was them…that’s not you! Many studies and articles on the subject of productivity make it clear that twenty-two hours of work a day does not equal twenty-two hours of productivity. When you are exhausted and unable to fully function, you’re not working at the height of your potential creatively or intuitively. Taking breaks during the day, in the evening, and on the weekends will actually enhance your productivity and profitability. So besides meditating and exercising, schedule your time off, whether it’s a long lunch break, a weekend off, or one evening a week that is work- and planning-free. You’ll be amazed at the energy and stamina that you will reap.
About the Author
Judy Santos is the founder and creator of The Business Builder program, which helps business owners and entrepreneurs start, grow, and scale their businesses. Her mission is to assist men and women to holistically create a full, rewarding business and life that reflects their values and purpose.