To be successful as an entrepreneur today, you need to absorb a constant stream of information. But you also need to know when to lock it down and only listen to your own inner voice. The model of the highly disciplined, overworked overachiever just doesn’t work when technology means round-the-clock access to you and your energy.
Of course, sometimes you have to put in long, grueling hours to be successful. But if you don’t take a break, the constant stress will wear you down, which doesn’t help anyone. To invest in yourself as a leader, focus on balance rather than a high-speed, high-pressure lifestyle. Some of these tips may seem a little counter-intuitive, but they will increase your chances of long-term success.
1. Treat your body right
First things first: get. Enough. Sleep. The idea that successful entrepreneurs never rest is a myth the business world needs to stop perpetuating, for the good of all.
As reported in KillerStartups, researcher and author Thomas Corley found that 89% of self-made millionaires get minimum seven hours of sleep per night. Without proper rest, your brain can’t make the kind of high-stakes decisions that successful leaders face every day.
And if you want to improve your sleep quality and virtually other measures of your health and happiness, exercise. Successful leaders share the habit of engaging in at least 30 minutes of cardio a day. Like sleep, exercise improves your cognitive function so you can make the best decisions for your business.
Nutrition also has a powerful impact on your leadership skills – and a domino effect on everything else in your life. Your diet can make or break your mental acuity. Eating yourself well is crucial if you want to lead your business to success.
2. Set goals that spark joy
Once you’ve covered those Maslow needs, it’s time to think bigger. What are your long-term financial and personal goals and what does success mean to you?
According to Corley, you need to make sure all your goals are really yours. Yes, you need to focus on growing your business and saving for the future. But don’t fall into the trap of trying to compete with others or, worse, trying to please your parents.
In his research, Corley found that pursuing one’s own dreams and goals leads to the greatest long-term happiness and the accumulation of wealth. In other words, being happy – on and off the job – can actually make you more money.
So look for what brings you joy and motivates you to give the best of yourself. It could be the adrenaline of achieving greater market share or having the flexibility to spend more time with your loved ones. It doesn’t matter what your goals are. You will go even further in business if you pursue goals that enlighten you.
3. Make time for other passions
On that note, if what makes you happiest isn’t always what pays off, that’s okay. Make time for hobbies, passion projects, travel, and whatever feels intuitively and overall good to you.
You may tell yourself that you don’t have the time between exercising, eating well, and spending long hours at work. But don’t convince yourself that every minute of your time has to be “productive.” You will only burn out, which will hurt you and your business.
On the other hand, throwing yourself into your hobbies makes you a better entrepreneur.. A hobby can be the inspiration for an innovative new offering or business practice. It can also help you connect with other successful and highly motivated people.
As an entrepreneur, you know your lifestyle takes on a certain type of spark that not everyone has. The types of people who prioritize interesting and creative lives tend to be the most successful. Be one of them and in doing so you will meet people who can help you learn, grow and network.
4. Protect your time
There’s really only one way to ensure you can handle some or all of the above. You must be extremely protective of your time. This doesn’t necessarily mean implementing rigid time management methods, but if they work for you, feel free to keep using them.
What this definitely means is being very clear about your priorities and giving a firm “no” to anything that interferes. Plan your day not by how many hours you work, but by what actions make you most functional and efficient.
Many successful leaders have neurodiscrepancies like ADHD that make traditional time blocking ineffective. Instead of working from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., some take advantage of late-night or early-morning hyperfocus periods to do their creative work. Then they use traditional working hours for lower priority tasks or for personal care.
Protecting your time can take a million different forms. Maybe that means you’re “busy” on your schedule, turning off your phone, and wearing noise-canceling headphones. Or maybe you delegate tasks to junior workers, then lock your office door and meditate for 20 minutes. It’s not the method that counts; it’s all about finding the way that works best for you.
Find the right balance
The life of an entrepreneur has not been simplified. This is why it is more important than ever to find internal sources of stability and resilience. A successful business needs a firm, steady hand to guide it. So take care of yourself first, and give yourself the fuel you need to get your business off the ground.