Imagine your future.
What do you see? What are you doing? You’ve probably dreamt of this before. Think about it. How often have you found yourself absolutely transfixed by a fantasy of that perfect someday? How many times, while stuck in the office, going through the motions, have you found yourself daydreaming about what you would do if things were different. If only you had the time, money, energy. If only things would change!
Though, maybe you aren’t stuck in an office at all. Maybe you’ve already taken that first step to carve your own path. You’ve taken the dream and made it a reality through drive, passion, and a lot of hard work. As the execution of business ownership overtakes the fantasy phase, there is still room to daydream. You have something solid now, but what will it be in a year? In 10 years? There are so many possibilities, of course you’re still dreaming!
No matter where you are on your journey as a heart-centred entrepreneur, there is always room to dream. If you didn’t, how else would you know what you want? How else could you plan for your future? Without dreams, there are no goals. No destination to travel towards, little to motivate you, nothing at which to direct your energy. Living wild and free is fun and has its place, but it can also leave you feeling empty, directionless, and unfulfilled.
Even for those of who are determined and driven, you can end up feeling lost, as no matter how hard you work, you still can’t find the balance. It’s like all the pieces of the puzzle are there, but for some reason, they just aren’t falling into place. Other business owners seem to juggle it all with ease. What is the secret!?
There is no secret! It isn’t a matter of finding that one little trick that will make everything easy. Unless you have a time-turner, of course, but those are in short supply these days. And since it isn’t likely that a magical, problem-solving device is going to fall into your lap anytime soon, you’re going to have to find another way to create that balance in your life.
Rather than putting all your money into some easy-fix solution, you’re going to have to work for it. Yep, that’s right. The solution is more hard work. Despite all the work you have already put in to your business, you are going to have to do more. But this work, it isn’t about your brand. This isn’t about crunching numbers or making sales. This is about the work you put into yourself.
Oh The Places You’ll Go
Imagine your future, again. Notice, once more, what you see around you. How did it get there? How did YOU get there? In order to attain this success, there had to have been a very determined person putting in the time and effort to make their dream a reality. Imagine that person. What are they like? What do they first thing in the morning? What is the last thing they do before bed?
Is it you? Or is it the person you wish you could be? How does that fantasy-self match up to the person you currently are? Even the hardest of workers can fall into habits that prevent them from reaching their full potential. Whether it is through a lack of organisation, poor time management, an abnormal sleep schedule, or perpetual procrastination, our daily rituals and routines influence our present and future selves. Each action has infinite possible outcomes. When we choose to create daily rituals and maintain a routine that benefits our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being, we tip the scale in favour of positive results. This affects not only our sense of self and our everyday life but, likewise, our work.
That self you imagined – the one who has found that sought after sense of fulfillment and success – it isn’t just a fantasy. It is a goal, an achievable future. The key? Becoming the person you need to be in order to reach that goal. This isn’t a case of changing yourself to fit it or impress others. It’s a matter of building habits that reinforce positive growth.
Systems For Success
As an entrepreneur, there are a few basic things that really help to set you down the path to success. They work like magic, but are as practical as it gets. These are things like keeping a schedule, making to-do lists (and completing them), and using a day planner. They may not be exciting, but solid organisational habits are essential to a successful business.
Do you really believe Future You just decides to work whenever you please? Not likely! I would wager that you have a set schedule and keep a calendar. You plan out your workload in advance and find ways to balance all the other tasks that seem to infiltrate the day. Things are so much easier. And why? Planning!
Make a daily ritual of filling out your planner. It is literally one of the simplest but most powerful actions you can take. It allows you to keep order without having to remember all those important dates, meetings, and appointments on your own. This prevents embarrassing mishaps like double-booking a call or missing a deadline. It also allows you to block out parts of your day in a regimented way, which breeds consistency, a chief factor in building habits and keeping on top of work. Plus, by writing down your schedule for the day, it frees up space in your mind for other important dates, like an in-law’s birthday! But guess what… You can write that down too!
It isn’t just dates that we need to remember. Memory is, unfortunately, fallible. How many times have you rushed out the door and completely forgot to grab your phone/wallet/kid, only to recall when you’re already halfway to your destination? By taking measures to ready yourself in advance, you are more likely arrive prepared and stress-free.
Think about it like packing a suitcase. How much easier is it when you have a checklist? Sure, a mental checklist might work for some, but what happens when you arrive at the beach without a swimsuit? A silly comparison, I know. But what would Future You do? Do you hit the beach stark naked? Or do you take the time to get organised and avoid a potentially awkward display of public nudity? In other words, do you just fly by the seat of your pants and hope for the best, or do you make a plan, get organised, minimise risk, and maximise success?
All that being said, making a list isn’t going to solve all your problems. I used to be a BIG list person. Even my lists had lists. Compiling them, keeping track, ticking them off. I was addicted! But I quickly realised how exhausting a never ending to do list can be. Instead of actually being productive, we end up feeling like we’re chasing something, which can leave us unfulfilled and anxious when we don’t tick everything off. Now, instead, I choose my top three items for the day and concentrate on those items. This helps keep me focused and clear on my desired outcome each day. To stay organised, I use Trello, and put all specific project items and outcomes in individual boards relating to that project. That way I can still keep track of everything, tick things off, and stay organised, without going through the continuous list-making cycle. Instead of waking up to a huge list of little things that consistently transfer to tomorrow’s list, I use the tools that work best for me. The result? Projects get completed, goals are met, and I stay on top of it all!
Whether you use a list, Trello, or any other method or program to keep yourself in order, it’s important to remember that writing it down is just one piece of the puzzle. In order for a written note to have purpose, it has to lead to an action. The idea of writing a list or setting a schedule might seem like work itself, which can lead to the brain feeling satisfied once we are done the simple task of writing. That’s enough work for one day, right? Wrong! Writing it down won’t do much good if you aren’t following up. If you set a schedule, keep it. If you make a checklist, read it, reread it, reflect, and take action. You won’t just magically become organised overnight. It takes work. It takes effort. It takes repetition. But by putting systems in place that bolster success, these actions become a part of your everyday life.
Sleep On It
What kind of lifestyle does Future You lead? Are you working away in your little cottage in the woods or putting in time from your penthouse apartment? Are you travelling the country, off-grid, with wifi-stick or enjoying a glass of wine while you work from your villa in Tuscany? Or, are you coming home after another night out, bleary-eyed, dehydrated, and about to sleep til noon?
No matter what your ideal lifestyle looks like, the successful futures all have something in common: you, working.
That isn’t to say that you have to work all the time. But no matter your lifestyle, no matter where you are and what you are doing, in order to be a success you have to get up and do the work. If you’re up all night, how can you expect to get anything done? A lack of sleep affects your mental and physical health! It disrupts cognitive function, inhibits your body’s ability to heal, and can leave you feeling like absolute rubbish. And when a poor sleep schedule becomes your norm, those effects only build, stacking upon one another until you are a mess of exhaustion and stress.
It doesn’t even have to be a case of staying out partying all night either. Many people stay up watching Netflix or scrolling Instagram until the wee hours. How many of us have made a habit of watch a series before bed, only to find ourselves several episodes in as the sun comes up? Just because you stay up all night at home instead of the pub doesn’t mean you’re doing better than the party-goers.
In fact, it can be just as damaging to pull an all-nighter in order to get more work done. If you haven’t slept, chances are your output isn’t top-quality. Again, this goes back to your health and your mind. If your brain isn’t functioning at full capacity, it isn’t going to produce results you can feel proud of. What else happens when you forsake sleep? You health deteriorates. You burn out. You can’t reach your goals if you’re too tired or unwell to think! Plus, I would guess the ideal Future You doesn’t have dark circles under their eyes!
So what can you do? Reconsider your daily rituals around health and realign your trajectory. Set a sleep schedule and stick to it. Innumerable studies have shown the benefit of sleeping and waking at the same time everyday. As your body gets used to the regiment, it becomes natural to sleep and wake at those hours.
Yes, even on the weekends!
We have a circadian rhythm for a reason. In keeping a set sleep schedule, you give your body and mind a break as you become used to pattern. The common habit of sleeping in becomes a thing of the past. Instead, you replace it with a habit that promotes drive and peak performance. By making a conscious decision to sleep around the same time each night, you set a precedent for yourself. And in setting alarms for the morning, you are putting a ritual in place that will soon just become your regular routine. You might also have to break the habit of hitting the snooze button, if that happens to be a vice. Difficult, but possible!
Of course, some of us don’t fully get a say in our sleep schedule. With two little kids at home who aren’t great sleepers, I know that it can be so frustrating to hear the continuous chorus of “Oh, you just need to go to bed earlier”. For those of us with children or other dependents, a regular sleep schedule just isn’t possible. I think the important thing here is to try and rest as much as possible, when you can, and try to ensure that the sleep you do get is as good as possible. At some point, this phase will pass!
The key message to take away from this? Take care of yourself! It doesn’t stop with sleep. A healthy diet, exercise, and time outdoors are integral to your overall well-being too. Take a look at each corner of your life and you’re bound to find a few detrimental habits. Recognise them, reevaluate your routine, and work to build systems that serve you and your body. You business will thank you!
It’s What’s Inside That Counts
Future You is organised and well-rested. You keep a solid schedule, for work, for sleep, and so on. You take care of your health through exercise and plenty of work breaks. But what about on the inside? What kind of person are you?
Looking inwards, it is important to recognise your strengths, but it is just as important to recognise your weaker points and work to reinforce the positives. Self-development is integral to your growth, both as a person and a business owner.
And thankfully, there are countless rituals you can integrate into your life to bolster this growth! Things like mindfulness and meditation can help you find balance and clarity. Mindfulness is especially applicable, as you can practice it almost any time, anywhere, simply be bringing attention to the present moment. Whether it is through focusing on only one task at a time or actively paying attention during a meeting, practicing mindfulness at work can promote efficiency, understanding, and communication.
It isn’t something you have to do at all times; sometimes we work better in a flow state. But by simply reminding yourself to be present when necessary, you are taking that step to becoming someone for whom mindfulness is natural.
Meditation does not need to be a big production either. Yes, many meditation practices do take time and effort to master, and if that is something of interest to you, I encourage you to seek out that avenue. For those, however, who are looking to start smaller, simple meditation and breathing techniques do wonders to centre you. Meditation and intentional breathing are both beneficial for calming the mind and lowering stress. Now, I could be wrong, but I suspect your ideal self isn’t stressing out! That isn’t to say Future You won’t ever get stressed, but it shouldn’t be constant. While some people do thrive under pressure, there is a difference between positive pressure, like deadlines, and overwhelming stress that causes burnout. Using grounding techniques like those mentioned above will help you avoid the latter.
Other ways to invest in your Future Self involve taking courses and attending workshops and seminars. If you want to be the best your can be, it is essential that you continue learning and growing in your career and as a person. Take courses to upgrade and advance your skills and understanding in your particular field. Workshops that encourage growth, whether related to career or to self, are an exceptional investment.
Think Of All That Could Be
As a business owner, what helps you succeed? Is it the latest smart phone? A comprehensive filing system? A perfectly curated corner office? Or is it hard work, self-reflection, and a drive to constantly improve?
It seems obvious, the latter should be the answer, but is that really what you imagine when you picture your future self? So often, it isn’t personal growth and inner-change that we focus on. Instead, we to fixate on external markers of success. We get this notion stuck in our head that, in order to reach our goals, we need things. If we just had that one thing – the professional blazer, the high-tech gadget, the perfect studio – everything would fall in to place!
This is a “Have-Do-Be” mindset. “Buy this thing and you’ll finally be happy.” As the backbone of advertising and the main message pushing the American Dream (yes, even in the UK), it’s no wonder this view is so engrained in society as a whole. It is especially prominent in business, as we are told, again and again, that we need more in order to compete in the market and reach the top.
But you’re a heart-centred entrepreneur! You are looking for so much more! Rather than seeking something to magically change your life you ask yourself, “Who do I need to be, to do what I need to do, to get the success I desire?” This is a “Be-Do-Have” mindset. It encourages you to focus on becoming the kind of person you dream of being, the one that puts in the work, builds positive habits, and takes action to make their own success.
Buying an expensive device isn’t going to magically transform you into the punctual, organised, professional business owner you dream of being. Taking the time to work on yourself; that is what will push you forward!
Want to learn more about the “Be-Do-Have” mindset? Keep your eyes open for an exciting, upcoming blog!
What Does Your Future Hold?
As an entrepreneur, you’ve already taken a big leap towards achieving your dreams. You have already accomplished so much, reached so many goals; you’re well on your way to being a success! But it’s important to remember that success comes on your own terms. You get to decide what it means to you. It isn’t about hitting the right milestones or beating a peer or a competitor; it’s about defining who you want to be and working hard until you get there. And then, once you’re there, you continue working. You seek out new goals and find new ways to advance yourself. You reevaluate your habits and implement new rituals in order to reach that next level. There is no secret. There is no destination. There is just a journey that is unique to you.
But guess what? You get to decide what happens next!