When you hear the word ‘entrepreneurship’, chances are health is not the first thing which comes to mind. In fact, while research shows that the most successful people view their health as a priority, the average small business owner doesn’t practice healthy habits. As we go about our daily lives, we prioritise business goals over our personal health, and busy schedules keep us from taking adequate care of ourselves.
There are many articles, books, videos, and programs dedicated to showing us how to eat well, the benefits of adequate sleep, and the positive outcome of regular exercise. It’s safe to say that most of us know what we should and shouldn’t be doing. The problem is we just simply don’t do it, any of it, consistently.
Most of us know exactly what we should be doing,
we just don’t take action.
So what’s keeping us from being healthy? It all has to do with habits. Ok, so maybe that’s oversimplifying things, but when you think about it, that’s really what it’s about. We rely on our habits more than we think. Our habits are formed within our conscious minds, and are stored in our subconscious for easy access, and herein lies the problem.
Experts in the field of neuroscience, human behaviour, and psychology have learned more about the way the brain works in recent years, and suggest that our conscious and subconscious minds operate at two different speeds.
The conscious mind is more deliberate and aware, and processes the information coming to us from the world. It takes its time to make decisions after thinking about that information. Our subconscious mind, on the other hand, is quick and impulsive, since it relies on past decisions, beliefs, and habits to function. It already knows what to do, and quickly goes about doing it.
Our brain operates at two speeds – fast and slow.
The problem is that while we love to think that our conscious mind is in control, research is showing that the decisions we fall back on are the ones made by the subconscious mind, especially when we’re tired or stressed. So the more we multitask, lose sleep, and stress our bodies, the less likely it would be that our decisions are based on our current conscious thought. We’re going to do what we’ve always done, whether or not it’s the better option.
The only way to address this is to provide our subconscious mind with a cache of more positive habits. It’s not enough to think about change, we must formulate an action our subconscious mind can utilize. Yes, that is definitely easier said than done, but not only is it possible, there are numerous success stories out there which testify to the efficacy of this approach.
So what does all of this have to do with being a healthy entrepreneur? Well, quite a lot. Here are the facts in a nutshell.
- Being healthy is a major factor in success. A healthy body is the foundation for a healthy mind.
- Most small business owners do not operate on the basis that health is important, even though intellectually they know it is.
- You need to retrain your subconscious by replacing the bad habits with more positive ones, if you want to achieve the kind of success you can thoroughly enjoy.
- Removing an unhealthy habit means replacing it with a healthy habit. Removing unhealthy actions leaves a void that must be filled, otherwise you will return to the unhealthy practice.
- It’s not going to be easy to do this, but it is possible. There is also no quick fix here because habits are formed over time.
Now that you see the invisible hand holding you back, here are a few practical ways to assist you in forming new and healthy habits.
1. Plan ahead to be patient with yourself.
Recognize that the process will take time, and there will be moments you miss the mark. If you go into this with the understanding that there will be setbacks and effort is required, you’ll be more likely to achieve your goal. Expect to spend on average three months creating the new habit. Resolve to accept mistakes during that time, and to move past them. Love yourself unconditionally during the process.
2. Don’t try to take on too much change at once.That is likely to frustrate you and make the process more difficult, increasing the possibility that you’re not going to stick with it. Choose to tackle something easily manageable. Perhaps you want to drink more water daily, replace an unhealthy meal choice with a healthier option, exercise for 20 minutes a day, meditate for 20 minutes, or get more sleep every night. Choose one or two at a time.
3. Educate Yourself
Learn about your body and what works best for you. Then read about what healthy practices would benefit you the most. Build your knowledge about healthy eating, sleeping, exercise, and calming your mind. In a world of fads and fake news, you need to choose wisely.
4. Create a Schedule.
This is a step many people overlook, but the whole point of a habit is consistency, and that requires some guidelines. First, choose a time of day that you are more likely to practice the new habit. Is the morning better? Afternoon? Night? After meals? How often are you going to practice the habit? Write these things down and keep the information where you can see it daily. Repetition is key, so ensure your schedule has frequent application of the new habit.
5. Commit to making the change.
How badly do you want success in business? Are you willing to sacrifice your health so that your wealth will eventually have to be spent on doctors and medicine? No. Make the decision that accumulation of wealth will be accompanied by the enjoyment of health. Then take action. Do something about it. Right now.
This is a weekly blog for entrepreneurs, micro, small, and medium business owners on the Mastermind Leaders Website. Follow our blog to learn more about our community, and get business advice, tips, and guidance. If you’re not already a member of Mastermind Leaders, click here to find out how you can join.
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Shelley-Ann Edwards-Barran is a writer, editor, writing coach, speaker, and advocate for better writing instruction. She is the CEO of WERD Coach Ltd., a company dedicated to helping writers at many levels – children, academics, authors.