We all know that having the right mindset is beneficial both for running a business and in life in general. This is even more true in challenging times like these, where it’s understandable to have some fear, anxiety, and added stress due to the uncertainty of our individual and collective path forward in dealing with this virus. I know at times during this crisis I have certainly felt some combination of fear, anxiety, and stress build up – I usually feel it in my chest. It is not a pleasant feeling.
I feel fortunate however to have done a lot of reading, and study, and practice around mindset over the years, and have some tools to help foster a positive mindset even amidst troubling times. I’d like to share some of those tools with you in this article and the next.
Exercise. This is probably my #1 tool for mindset. Seems odd on the surface, since exercise is a physical pursuit and we’re talking about mindset here. But for me, I don’t just feel physically better when I exercise regularly, I feel mentally better too. There is a lot of science behind this physical-mental connection (see Spark), but for me it just boils down to two simple things that make me feel better: 1) a sense of accomplishment that I have in fact exercised that day, and 2) it helps me burn off stress (literally the old adage “I need to burn off some stress” applies here – at least for me). Please don’t let gym or yoga studio closures excuse you from exercise. If you have an internet connection there are literally thousands of free workouts available at your fingertips that don’t require any equipment. (Currently I’ve been into free Boho Beautiful yoga and pilates workouts – it’s worth a look). And there is also good old fashioned going for a run or a walk or a bike ride outdoors. Get a little bit of exercise every day and that will help your mindset.
Gratitude. Remember that amidst this crisis that there is still lots to be grateful for. Even though your business may be closed or struggling at the moment, be grateful that you have the privilege of being a business owner. Be grateful that this crisis has provided an opportunity for you to think about your business in new, innovative ways. Be grateful for some extra family time over meals, movies, and cards. Be grateful for the break from the chaos of packing lunches and getting kids out the door and to school on time. Be grateful for all those essential service personnel who have stepped up their efforts to help us all through this. I am grateful for all these things, and much more. The cool thing about gratitude is that it literally shuts the door on stress, since you can’t be in a state of gratitude (growth mode) and anxiety (stress mode) at the same time (see Biology of Belief). Spend some time each day being grateful and that will help your mindset.
Meditation. I have known for years that meditation is good for you in so many ways, yet I have struggled to maintain a consistent practice. Recently, two books have helped to get me over the hump and into a consistent practice: 10% Happier, and Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It. Meditation is exercise for your mind. It is training that helps you put your mind where you want, when you want (a very useful skill in business and in life). All you need to do is sit quietly and focus on one thing. Most people tend to focus on their breathing, but it doesn’t have to be that. You can focus on all the things you’re grateful for if you want (see point #2 above). You could even focus on how much you miss the NHL playoffs this year. It doesn’t matter. The practice of meditation is simply to focus on one thing, and then when your mind wanders to something else, notice that, and bring your focus back to the one thing. That’s it. And it doesn’t have to take long either. My daily practice is just 7 minutes. I use the free app Insight Timer. Below are the settings I use. Meditate each day and that will help your mindset.