If you’re reading this, I’m guessing you’re one of the rare individuals who has decided to take life into your own hands and choose how it’ll unfold. If so, congrats. Making that choice is a critical step.
Now comes the hard part -- staying on your path and making progress towards your dreams.
Many dream about being able to leave their job and thrive as an entrepreneur, but it’s often not all it’s cracked up to be. It’s challenging when your pay check is directly tied to how hard you hustle and how much you can get done, especially in the beginning of the journey before the work pays off.
But, fear not, because there are many great ways to make sure you perform your best. In this article, I’m going to share five habits that make the biggest difference for me as I strive to do what I described above. They may seem counterintuitive, as none of the habits I describe will directly help you get more done.
Side note: these habits don’t apply only to entrepreneurs. They can help anyone perform better and live a happier life.
This one’s a no brainer, but worth mentioning. If you don’t have a clear idea of what you want to accomplish and where you want to go, how are you going to get there? Performing your best is worthless if you’re not applying it to the most important things.
So, take some time either on your own or with a coach to figure out what matters most to you. What do you want your life to look like? What kind of lifestyle do you want? What job or business will help you live that life?
This process can be as complex or as simple as you want. What lights you up? What makes you want to jump out of bed in the morning? Figuring this out is a big topic that I don’t have room to fully unpack here, but if you want to learn more you can check out The Desire Map (http://www.daniellelaporte.com/thedesiremap/) by Danielle Laporte. Or check out The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss (https://fourhourworkweek.com/)
Once you figure out your goals, write them down and put them in a place you can revisit them daily.
Many top entrepreneurs have said exercise is their single most important priority to make sure they succeed over the long term. It's so easy to forget about this as you dive into business, especially when you’re trying to fit in time for your side hustle while still working 40 or more hours a week at a job.
Even when people have an exercise routine, it’s often the first thing they neglect when things get hectic. But remember, there’s a reason exercise is on the list. It’s important. Success is meaningless if you lose your health.
Investing a mere fifteen to thirty minutes a few days a week into exercise helps your health and lets you clear your mind to be in the moment, which helps your mind focus more easily on work when it’s time to.
I won’t go into specific ways to exercise here. There are countless resources for that. The key is to find something you enjoy doing. If you hate going to the gym, don’t go to the gym. If you love playing soccer, find ways to do that more often. It’s not as important what it is, the important part is that it becomes a regular part of life. You’re more likely to continue doing the activities you enjoy.
This may seem the same as exercise, and while nature can be combined with exercising outside, there are huge benefits that come from spending time in nature, so it gets its own section.
Spending time in nature, either while exercising intensely (trail running, hiking, climbing, surfing, etc.) or simply going for a quiet walk in the woods, or even sitting under a tree, can all support improved performance.
Like exercise, spending time in nature helps you to clear your mind, and a clear mind is essential for staying focused and getting shit done when you want to. Time in nature also helps you get more connected to your intuition. Your ability to listen to your intuition (or your gut, your heart, or whatever you want to call it) helps you get more shit done.
Because it allows you to make decisions more quickly and as a result, spend more time acting and less time figuring out what to do. It helps you trust yourself and your decisions as well, which leads to less stress, better sleep, and feeling better more often.
“But I live in the middle of a huge city with no nature anywhere in sight” you say. Well, you could choose to remain a victim of your poor life decisions, or you could figure out how you can still get some nature in despite your circumstance. I’m sure there are parks or forests within a couple hours for you to escape to on weekends.
And during the week, look for opportunities to get little bits of nature whenever possible. Find some small green spaces you can visit in the city, play with your pets, (or get one if you don’t have one -- animals can give you a similar feeling to spending time in nature). Or, simply buy more plants for your house. Even the tiniest of apartments can fit a few extra houseplants, and they’ll brighten up the atmosphere (and the air) immensely. Bottom line is this: don’t make excuses. Figure out a way to spend time in nature.
This is another big one. Poor dietary choices derails people the most of any bad habit, especially as they begin to feel the difference a good diet makes. When you’re used to eating garbage all the time, it feels normal. But when you go from eating clean and healthy to eating garbage, you will suffer enormously.
It’s simple: reduce the amount of garbage you eat and increase the amount of healthy food. But what’s garbage and what’s healthy?
You’ll get a different answer depending who you talk to, but in my mind it’s simple: cut out or dramatically reduce fast food, refined sugar, gluten, dairy, and anything that’s heavily processed.
A good rule of thumb is that if you can’t pronounce it, then it’s probably processed.. If you don’t even know what it is, there’s a good chance it’s not food. For more info on this, check out this article: (http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/04/17/worst-toxic-food-ingredients_n_3101043.html)
What’s healthy? Basically, food. Actual, real, organic food that grows on the earth. Vegetables, fruit, nuts, some grains (quinoa, rice, etc.) and some meat or fish (if you’re down with that and if it’s organic, hormone free, and raised ethically) -- the less processed the better.
It’s also important to eat lots of healthy fat like avocado, olive oil, coconut oil, grass fed ghee, nuts, etc. Fat is a much better source of energy that carbohydrates (sugar) and when your body adapts to running primarily on fat, you’ll have much more consistent energy more of the time.
Bonus: fat’s delicious. Fat tastes good to us because our bodies want it. Bonus #2: when your body learns to use fat for fuel, it’ll naturally start burning off all that extra stored fat you’ve been carrying around for ages.
It’s important to make healthy eating easy. If not, it won’t work. If you have the luxury of working from home and cooking all your meals yourself, or hiring a private chef, or paying for a meal delivery service, that’s awesome.
But most people don't, so how do you prepare for those times when you just need something quick? Having healthy grab and go options is key, so take the time to do meal prep once a week. If you can just grab a pre-made meal out of the fridge on your way to work, you’re a lot less likely to get fast food.
Stock up on healthy snacks as well. Having an apple, banana, or some almonds beats having a Snickers. Or, if you like having bars on hand at the office, find one that has real, organic ingredients, is low in sugar, and doesn’t have any useless fillers, like my product, the Grind Bar (www.thegrindbar.com).
Now, don’t freak out if this all seems like too much to handle considering your current diet. Just try to make small changes and see how you feel. Take small steps in the direction of eating better and eventually you’ll be there. Just aim to be a little better than you were yesterday.
If you currently eat fast food five times a week, cut it down to once a week, or get a salad instead of a Big Mac meal. If that's too much then just start by getting the meal without Coke.
You’ll be amazed by how much different you feel by just replacing Coke with water at meals. Take small steps and find a healthy diet that you can enjoy and that works over the long run.
This is another big one that often gets ignored. It’s a classic example of an important but not urgent thing on the list that can easily get bumped when life gets “too busy.”
Instead of explaining the myriad different styles and ways of bringing meditation into your life, I’m going to instead try to explain the goal of meditation.
Meditation works because you can only listen to your intuition when your mind is quiet. With all the noise around us, taking daily space to be still and quiet is so important. Anything that helps quiet your mind can be meditation.
This can come in many different forms. Again, finding what works for you is key. For me, I like the standard – seated, silent meditation. It’s simple, easy, and can be done anywhere.
When I’m at home in Vancouver, I also love floating (more on that here: http://floathouse.ca/introduction-to-floating/) as it forces you to go inwards for a good chunk of time, and has lots of physical benefits as well due to the Epsom salts in the water.
Your meditation practice can also tie into a couple of the other sections above, because meditation doesn’t have to be practiced while sitting still. For you, reaching a meditative state might involve running or walking in nature, doing yoga, or even going to the gym.
The only key is to not talk. Your awareness must be in your body. The method matters less than the result (a meditative state) and doing it regularly (so it has to be something you enjoy).
“But, how do I get more done?”
You may be thinking: “I just read all that, but you didn’t actually tell me how to get more done. WTF?”
True. But, if you want to perform better, the one key thing that plays into everything you do in life is… YOU.
Investing time and energy into yourself, your health, your ability to connect with your intuition, and figuring out what you want to accomplish are key to making your life as awesome as possible. And that’s probably why you want to perform better in the first place.
Hopefully there’ve been some gold nuggets in here for you. But if I could stress one thing, it’s to figure out what works best for you.
Because, as I’ve said throughout this article, the best habits are worthless if you don’t use them regularly. Life’s a marathon, not a sprint. You need to make sure you set yourself up so you can go the distance.