But with what result? A lot of built up stress with no relief in sight. This is bad for you, and for your business. To combat the personal and professional consequences of the entrepreneurial lifestyle, I encourage many of clients to employ the practice of mindfulness.
What is mindfulness? Simply put, mindfulness is a form of meditation that helps you get control of your thoughts and behaviors. It is the act of focusing all of your attention on the present. You focus on what you are doing or feeling without thinking about why you’re doing it or feeling that way, what you should do next, or what you think you should be doing. Mindfulness requires that you objectively consider your thoughts and feelings, thus helping you be truly present, living in the moment.
Before you dismiss mindfulness as some sort of hippie nonsense, there is solid, scientific evidence supporting the benefits of meditation. The latest research in neuroscience suggests that mindfulness causes real, observable changes in the brain. There is decreased activity areas of the brain associated with mind-wandering combined with increased activity in the areas associated with focus and cognitive control. There is also decreased activity in the amygdala, the area of the brain associated with stress and anxiety. Finally, they have noticed an increase in activity in the left frontal cortex which is associated with positivity.
So mindfulness changes your brain to be more focused and controlled, less stressed, and more positive. How do these changes then benefit your business? Mindfulness helps you to:
- Discover your true motivation and drive. Entrepreneurs burn out when they do things for the wrong reasons, such as fame, fortune, or notoriety. Of course everyone needs to make money, and it’s not wrong to want recognition, but if these are your only motives behind your business, you will get pulled off track quickly. Mindfulness guides you back to the greater reasons you started your business. It helps you gain satisfaction from doing things for yourself and for the right reasons. Because of this, you and your business can continue on and grow.
- Develop resilience. You will see how every failure, every bump in the road, is a chance to learn. Instead of becoming frustrated and giving up, you will develop the resilience needed to keep going in spite of problems. You will have an easier time standing back up and dusting yourself off. It helps you continue to get things done, even under very challenging circumstances.
- Make needed changes. Mindfulness helps you challenge your approach to life and business when you reach a roadblock or experience failure. It helps you analyze your problem and determine objectively why you are not obtaining the results you want. The process of mindfulness helps you try different things, even when you are naturally opposed to change.
- Trust your instincts. Entrepreneurs often use their instincts and intuition to make some of the best decisions for their life and business. You need to train yourself to trust your gut. So often entrepreneurs are stressed, pulled at from all directions, get advice and input from numerous sources, to the point that they lose confidence in their own instincts. Practices like mindfulness help you tune into your inner voice and reconnect with your intuition.
- Enjoy the success you have right now. Entrepreneurs set goals and work toward them like no one else, and that’s part of why you are successful! But many entrepreneurs fail to slow down and rejoice in their present successes. Mindfulness helps you to focus on the things that make you feel successful now. This, in turn, will help you create more success.