Have you ever woken up with an instant sense of dread before work starts for your business that day? Ever been so stressed from issues in your business that you just wanted to throw in the towel? Has business ownership ever given you crippling anxiety? I can answer with a big yes to all of these, and most of my friends that own businesses can too. As an owner of a small business there seems to be no end to the worries and doubt. Will we make payroll? Will the jobs go as planned? Will my staff show up, or break tools, or damage property? The simple truth is that there are always going to be issues when you are running a service business.
Things will go wrong
The way you respond to these problems is what will set you apart from the many who have failed before you.
The issues of running my business daily used to drive me crazy. I was always on edge, waiting on the next phone call that would inform me of the next fire I needed to put out(one time literally a fire on one of our trailers).It would beat me down. Discourage me. Make me want to quit. I couldn’t enjoy my time at work or my time away from it. Why could other people I knew be so successful but I continued to feel like a failure? Always running scenarios through my head of how we could figure out a way to make it to the next day and overcome that day’s serving of crap.
When I was ready to call it quits, at the absolute limit of what I could mentally endure, I had I guess what you can call an awakening. I realized that no matter how much I tortured myself with worry,the problems were always going to be there. I could continue to put systems and people in place to mitigate the damage from them, but I would never be able to change the fact they would still occur. I finally realized that the only thing I could really change was how I reacted to these problems. That I was in control of how they affected me. I also realized that the better care I took of myself mentally and physically, the more I could exert my will over my emotions. I decided I was going to work on myself. I decided for once I was going to be in control.
For Once, Be In Control
This new revelation completely changed me as a person, and my businesses level of success. It seemed that the more I could control how I let things affect me, the more money I made and the happier I was.Things were great. For a little while at least. I was taking better care of myself. Things like meditation, exercise, a healthy diet,all seemed to help me stay in this awesome new state of mind. But as the weeks and months started to drag on and we were getting into another busy stretch with work, I started to slack. This was nothing new for me. I have a couple of points every year it seems where my routine starts to fall off. Call it burnout, or just fatigue, but my new habits went by the wayside. After a while of not being as dedicated to taking care of myself something started to happen. I started not to be in control anymore. Small problems that just weeks earlier rolled off my back were now giving me those old familiar feelings of wanting to freak out about everything. Yup, I was right back where I had started. After a few more weeks of this misery I decided I needed to try and examine where things had gone off course. What had put me back in this whirlwind of stress and anxiety. Why was my new thought process not working anymore?
It should have been easy to see where the breakdown occurred. I had stopped being disciplined with my daily routine. My workouts, meditation, journaling and diet had all gone south. My stress was at max levels. At this point I realized that the only way I was ever going to be able to be successful in business and in my life was to create and stick to a daily routine that would help me overcome the stress. I made a commitment to that. For me it is a few simple things.Other successful friends that own businesses all seem to have their own routines that they stick to as well. While the daily tasks can vary greatly,the main thing seems to be that you stick to them.
I have found that I am at my best when I meditate. I know it feels silly at first but being able to examine and control your thoughts is a skill that can be learned and used to your advantage in business. It only takes me 10 minutes a day. There are lots of great apps available now.
I also write in a journal every morning. I get to my desk before staff comes in everyday and I just write. I use this time to make a daily to do list and just let myself freely put my thoughts on paper. It has a profound effect for me to examine the way I felt or how I reacted to a certain situation. Seeing my thoughts right out in front of me helps me to understand where I can be better in my daily interactions. My morning writing only takes about 15 minutes.
I try to exercise everyday. This was harder when I was in the field. But no matter how tired I was, a workout always helped to actually increase my energy. Our bodies are supposed to move. I rotate between lifting weights and doing cardio. Both help clear my mind. There are tons of studies that show just how beneficial working out can be for not only your body, but also that it has a tremendous impact on your mental health. I follow my workout up with 20-30 minutes in my sauna( my favorite purchase ever). I like to workout in the afternoon, some people swear by the morning. No matter the time just get it done. It really makes everything better. All of this takes me about an hour.
The better my diet the better I feel. I know it is hard to eat healthy when you are on the move all day going from task to task running your business. You have to be deliberate with this. When I used to eat a bunch of junk throughout the day I would be ready to fall asleep at my desk by 3pm. The crash after eating a terrible meal for lunch was inevitable. How can I make the best decisions for my business when all I want to do is take a nap after that big mac and large fry? I try and stick to the basics. Meat and veggies seem to be the best option for me. But everyone responds differently to different types of food. The main point is to figure out what you can eat to help you perform at your best and then stick to that. I also make sure I drink a lot of water. It seems like the older I get the more critical my diet has become.
Take Care of Yourself
So these are the four things I try and do daily to help keep me sane. They take me under an hour and a half. Do I get them done everyday? No. Can I tell when I don’t? Big time. If I miss a couple days of this routine I am right back in stress town like clockwork. You would think knowing the outcome I would never skip days but I have moments of weakness like everyone. You probably already know what things you should be doing everyday to take care of yourself. All you have to do is commit to making them a part of your daily schedule. The better I take care of myself the more stress I can handle without letting it break me down. Being able to handle more stress has seemed to directly result in being more successful and happier.I am a better Husband to my wife Sheena, and father to my little girl Lucy.
Not sure what things might work for you? Ask some friends that you consider successful. I bet they already have their daily routines whether they realize it or not. It seems to be one thing all the top performers have in common. Running a business is not easy. Sticking to a daily routine is not easy. But we are not after the easy option. We want to be at the top. To get there you have to take care of yourself first if you want to have any chance. Build yourself so that you can build your business.
-By Brian Sauls