How Entrepreneurship & Wellness Can Co-exist
When you thrive, so can your business.
Any entrepreneur knows that it takes absolute commitment to launch and run a business. In the face of such commitment, entrepreneurs sacrifice many things – health and wellbeing being one of the most common. We’ve all known that person who doesn’t sleep to fit in more hours of work, orders fast food because it’s the quickest option available, sits at a computer all day barely moving. Is this person you?
Entrepreneurs must have the physical energy to work hard each day, the emotional and mental wellbeing to be resilient, and the spiritual strength to believe in their purpose.
A commitment to wellbeing does not have to, and should not, fall to the wayside. In fact, I argue that it’s absolutely necessary for an entrepreneur to have a consistent wellness practice that anchors them while weathering the ups and downs of startup life. Entrepreneurs must have the physical energy to work hard each day, the emotional and mental wellbeing to be resilient, and the spiritual strength to believe in their purpose. (For the record, I use the word “spiritual” to refer to any belief system that gives one a sense of meaning to life or a higher sense of purpose.)
So does wellness for the entrepreneur look like? Wellness, for anyone, is simply taking consistent action to support your physical, mental/emotional, and spiritual wellbeing. And for the hustling entrepreneur, it may look very different from the indulgent and time-consuming rituals so often promoted by the wellness industry. I have coached entrepreneurs who are passionate, mission-driven, and hard-working. Keep reading for tips I share with them.
Build Your Stamina
We all know that we should exercise and eat healthy. But I want to offer a paradigm shift in how you think of your physical wellbeing. Rather than thinking of how you treat your body with “shoulds” and guilt when you skip the gym or eat fast food; think of what you need your body to do to be effective in your day. Do you need the energy to work a full-time job while building your side hustle? Do you need the energy to be the CEO, CMO, and COO of your new business? Do you need the energy to network and interface with customers every day?
Your energy needs to be on point, and a great way to approach each day with vitality is to manage what you put in your body, and what you do with it. Nutrition and movement now become necessary to power you through the day. An easy place to start (if you haven’t already), is shifting each meal to one of unprocessed whole food ingredients and picking one form of regular daily movement. This can range from a 20-minute walk to a 45-minute HIIT workout ?
Building a business is quite personal and can often be tumultuous. It’s important to have a strong mental and emotional core that allows you to be resilient, steady and clear-thinking in the face of change. If you are easily rocked by setbacks and unexpected pivots, it not only puts you in a constant state of stress (which can snowball into burnout and physical illness), it has a ripple effect on those around you who are relying on your leadership.
The solution I offer comes from Brené Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection – integrating rest and play into your week so that your head and heart can recharge. Maybe you need to take a nap on the weekend, or set an alarm that tells you when to shut down all electronics and turn in for the night. Brown also found that play – doing something frivolous, for the pure joy of it – is not only a refreshing escape, it helps our brains to be more creative and innovative in other areas of life. Brown recommends creating a “play list” – three activities you could do for hours on end, and scheduling time in your calendar to do at least one of those activities. Those tech companies with ping-pong tables are onto something.
Stay the Course
Your business has a purpose for existing and you have a purpose for being the one to create and grow this business. Spiritual wellbeing is your anchor to a sense of purpose that is greater than you. It guides the values and integrity you employ as a leader of your business. When life is moving at a fast pace, it can be easy to forget to connect to our spiritual side. Regardless of your religious or spiritual values, there are two practices that are game changers to keep you grounded and centered spiritually: meditation and affirmation.
Meditation, a break from doing to being, allows you to be present and listen deeply to the innate wisdom of your spirit, which is beneficial for overcoming obstacles and recognizing opportunities (added bonus: it’s also an excellent way to manage stress.). Affirmations, on the other hand, are like a verbal agreements that you make with your highest self and your spiritual source. When spoken out loud emphatically every morning, you have an optimistic boost to begin your day and you may notice coincidences that affirm what you have stated to yourself. .
The only thing left to do is to create a schedule for your new or upgraded wellness routine. I recommend picking one new activity in each of the three areas and committing to each for 30 days so that the changes become ingrained as habit. For example, for the next 30 days I may commit to the following:
Schedule a ten-minute walk after every 3 hours of work.
Read a new fiction novel for an hour every Sunday afternoon.
Mediate for ten minutes each morning.
Share what you’re up to with the people closest to you to hold you accountable. Once your rituals become habit, once you notice that these activities are too pleasurable to miss out on, and once you see that these new behaviors make you more effective in your grind, you’ll be intrinsically motivated to stick to them. Your business requires the best you have to give it. Tending to your wellbeing consistently allows you to do just that.