There are three primary mental tools that are helpful for everyone and in every aspect of their lives, but especially for entrepreneurs in their businesses! Mental and psychological tools are key to performing at your best, regardless of what your role is: violinist, CEO, horse owner, pet-lover, mother, father, spouse, etc. So I want to get into how those tools help entrepreneurs, and the different ways that entrepreneurs can apply these tools in their lives.
First I’ll break down how the tool applies to your business, then we’ll get into application.
The Second Tool is Self-Regulation
The Importance of Self-Regulation…
The first tool, Self-Awareness, won’t do you much good without Self-Regulation.
As great as Self-Awareness, its value in your life depends heavily upon Self-Regulation. But I’m not talking about repressing your feelings or being able to say “I’m not nervous/anxious” when you’re nervous or anxious. That’s not healthy!!
Self-Regulation is about being able to find ways to pull yourself out of any negative emotional headspace that you’re aware you’re in (Self-Awareness is the first step toward Self-Regulation!).
Which happens! Entrepreneurs deal with putting out fires all day long.
We deal with one thing after another going wrong, and then at the end of the day we get to deal with emails from people who are demanding unreasonable things from us. So it’s natural that we’d end up in negative emotional headspaces at times. It’s a part of life.
Self-Awareness is recognizing when you’re heading toward those negative headspaces. Self-Regulation is being able to get back to peak-performance zone and away from the negative headspaces.
Self-Regulation answers questions like “I have a meeting in 10 minutes, how do I prevent what just happened from influencing how this meeting runs?” or “I need to get this project knocked out, how do I prevent the last hour of putting out a fire from influencing the quality of my work?”
In other words, Self-Awareness is the ability to recognize a negative headspace. Self-Regulation is what you do about it.
Now that we understand what Self-Regulation is, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of application.
Start by creating a list of your clear-glass activities. These are activities you can jump into in order to clear your mind and bring your emotions back to a more neutral place when you’ve noticed a negative headspace in yourself based on your symptom list (If you don’t know what that is, check out Part 1 of this series to learn what a symptom list is).
Often these symptoms are physical and can manifest as pain in different areas of the body.
What this usually means is that our body is out of whack somewhere. Oftentimes it’s a symptom that our bodies are going into some variety of stress-hormone overload. Our bodies are not designed to sustain heightened levels of cortisol, epinephrine and adrenaline long-term. These hormones are supposed to hit our bodies quickly, then filter out once we get out of a life-threatening situation. Unfortunately, our bodies are no longer good at telling the difference between a potential cougar pouncing on us and any one of the other stressful situations we deal with daily. So we end up with an overabundance of these hormones in our system and our bodies begin experiencing breakdowns as a side affect. It’s important when we recognize the symptoms of hormone overload that we take actions to start our bodies producing alernate hormones to balance the load!
#1: Short-Term Head-Clearing Activities
These are the activities you can whip out for 10-15 minutes to clear your head in the middle of a really bad day.
Activities like meditation (which has been proven again and again to calm brainwaves/neural patterns, and emotional charges), journaling, and listening to bilateral music are the kinds of things you can stop to do in the middle of the day for even just 5-10 minutes in order to clear your emotional brainspace. I love to use journaling, meditation, and short walks for this kind of head-clearing activity.
But your short-term activities can be anything you want and find helpful. Even just taking a few minutes to take some really deep breaths and refocus your mind and energy, and calm your racing heartbeat.
#2: Long-Term Head-Clearing Activities
These are the activities that help you stay in a clear headspace long-term.
Just like a web-browser accrues history, our emotions tend to stack up even if we’re working every day to get back to a clear headspace when we get upset. Think about it like this: you wash your dishes every day and you wipe down your counter every day, but your kitchen still needs a deeper clean about once a week to do things like remove crumbs from the ground and wipe down the sink to prevent bacteria films. Your emotions need the same thing.
Once a week you need to be involved in some activity that just helps you enjoy what you’re doing, clears your emotional headspace, and lets you live in the moment. For me, that tends to be going out to see my horse for a few hours once a week. For you, it might be something like a nature hike or a game-night with friends/family.
But you need to find something that will clear your emotional “history” every week and help you approach the week with a fresh and clear head.
Even though Self-Regulation is a lot of work...
It is worth it! Because it allows you to come back to a place where you’re regularly performing at your peak and avoiding the breakdowns that are so common to entrepreneurs.