Anyone who has achieved something of great accomplishment in their lives knows that “success” is not a destination, but a process. It takes time for things to unfold, time for answers to reveal themselves, time to fully understand what you’re building, and time to become the person (or team) capable of building the thing in the first place.
In order for that sort of successful venture to manifest itself then, more emphasis should be placed on the journey it takes to get there—rather than a constant chasing of the “end.” After all, it’s the lessons you learn along the way that will ultimately be the deciding factors as to the choices you make, pivots you take, and what it is you’re ultimately left with.
So how can you ensure you’re taking the right steps toward this ethereal measure of “success?”
Aspiring entrepreneurs, here are 7 habits you absolutely need to have as part of your daily routine that will ensure you’re always moving in a positive direction.
Wake Up When You Say You’re Going To Wake Up
One of the biggest lessons a mentor of mine taught me is the value of waking up on that first alarm. The night before, when you decide what time you’re going to wake up, you are making a promise to yourself. You are promising yourself to wake up at a certain time. If you hit snooze instead the next morning, you are breaking that promise—and certainly starting the day off poorly.
Part of becoming successful is doing what you say you are going to do. And although it might seem like a small action, compounded over weeks and months and years it turns out to be a big indicator as to how seriously you take your word.
Wake up when you say you’re going to wake up.
Make Time To Clear Your Head
Entrepreneurship, and goal-setting period, is a marathon—not a sprint. Do not over-extend yourself in the short term so often that you spend more time recovering than you would taking time to rest along the way.
One of the emerging habits of today’s greatest minds and entrepreneurial souls is meditation. In the morning, take five or ten minutes to sit quietly with yourself and envision the day to come. Use these moments of silence to get in tune with where you are at that day, and what you can do to be both productive and at the same time content.
Keeping a clear head over the long-term is what’s going to allow you to make it through storms of confusion or conflict, and also help you make better decisions as to the best way to move forward.
Read, Read, Read
This cannot be stressed enough.
As an entrepreneur, it is your job to be a specialized-generalist—that is, someone who has enough knowledge on every relevant industry, niche, market, skill set and specialization to be able to understand it, speak to it, and give appropriate direction. You are the leader, after all. And in order to lead effectively, you’re going to need to be well versed.
Some people, however, aren’t great readers (or absolutely despise it). I would still challenge you to acquire the skill, but if nothing else, turn to podcasts, audio books, and informational videos. The point here is to constantly be filling your knowledge buckets. If your work output is so high that you never have time for any “input” activities (like studying your craft, industry, etc.) then things are out of balance.
Make time for input.
Spend 1 Meal With Someone Else
In other words, pick up a copy of Keith Ferrazzi’s, Never Eat Alone.
One of the most effective ways for you to spend your time as an entrepreneur is over a meal with someone else. You have to eat anyways, so why not share it with someone you would like to meet, or need to catch up with, or want to learn from? It’s one of those simple schedule tweaks that can allow you to get double the return on your time—instead of eating by yourself and then scheduling a meeting with someone the following hour. Just meet them for lunch. And if anything, food or coffee or drinks will make both of you feel more comfortable and allow for a better conversation to be had.
Don’t Forget To Get Back In Your Body
You can only sacrifice self-care for so long before your body retaliates on you. Again: remember that entrepreneurship is a marathon, not a sprint.
In order to keep yourself grounded and level-headed, do not forget the value of 45 minutes in the gym. That’s all you need to get back in your body and out of the chaos in your head.
Another great way to double-up on time here is to combine meetings with gym sessions. Meet a partner, a client, or a networking connection for a lift. However, be wary of doing this too often. The real purpose here is to take a step away from the busyness of work and to get back to your center.
Check-in With Your “Entrepreneurship Group”
Many entrepreneurs will attest to having a ground of friends or associates they can turn to for advice, insight, or even just motivation along the way. Today, many of these groups exist in programs like Slack where people can communicate on-the-go and across the country, if needed. But their purpose still remains: support each other.
The reason it’s valuable to have this sort of group in your life, and why you should check in with someone on a daily basis is to help keep yourself accountable. It doesn’t need to be a meeting or a major discussion. Just a quick update so that people involved feel compelled to hold themselves (and each other) responsible.
Be Careful Not To Burn The Candle At Both Ends
And finally, at the end of each day, audit yourself and see where you’re at. Some days, you’re going to need to go to sleep a bit early to catch up. Other days, you’ll have no problem grinding away until three in the morning. Both are ok. What’s important is that you stay aware of your current state over the long-term.
The more you can learn to listen to yourself as an entrepreneur, the longer you will effectively be able to run your marathon. If you burn the candle at both ends for too long, you’ll burn out. And if you don’t ever push yourself, you’ll likely remain stagnant. It’s a balancing act, and one you have to work to master every single day.