Entrepreneurs have a unique mindset. With the right strategies, habits and tools, you can cultivate an entrepreneurial mindset too.
8 min read
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If you look closely at all of the major discoveries humans have made, you will see a common thread: failure. When one solution or idea didn’t work, failure was the catalyst for finding different solutions to solve the problem at hand. To be an entrepreneur, you have to have a different mindset than most people. You have to realize failure is not the end all: It is actually the best indicator that you are on the path to creating something great. Many things contribute to having an entrepreneurial mindset, perhaps the most important being that you must get comfortable with failure.
Here are some other things to keep in mind.
Related: 8 Mindset Shifts Entrepreneurs Must Make to Achieve Their Ultimate Goal
1. Ditch the goal and put a system in place
Most people believe they need to have goals. While goals can be extremely helpful, they aren’t always practical. Goals go hand in hand with one major problem: They have an end point. Unless you can cross it off your list, you may have a harder time measuring success. Goals can be helpful, but they can also be too rigid. Too many times, I have seen people become overly focused on a goal to the point where they get tunnel vision. If you do this, you will miss out on all of the progress and small milestones you have made along the way.
This is why systems are more sustainable than goals. Every big accomplishment is a culmination of the million tiny steps taken along the way, and systems put a spotlight on the actions you consistently take each day. If you follow the systems, you will eventually reach any goal you set. Systems ultimately allow you to make progress each day and increase the likelihood of continued success. A system forces you to fully experience the progress you make along the way as you work toward something. Systems work better for entrepreneurs; they are much more flexible. If something isn’t working, you can make changes to the system accordingly.
2. Tune into your internal clock
The most successful entrepreneurs tend to be early risers. Howard Schultz, Richard Branson, Tim Cook and many other business leaders wake up before 5 a.m. so they can be more productive. While we are all familiar with the phrase “the early bird catches the worm,” there is actually a scientific reason behind why we are most productive in the early hours of the day. According to Dr. Robert Carter’s book, Morning Mind, our brains are physically bigger when we first wake up. He explains that because the head and body are level while we sleep, the brain receives more fluid, ultimately creating optimal conditions for brain performance in the hours immediately after waking up. However, waking up early is not the only piece of the puzzle. A well-rested mind is also crucial.
Research shows that a good night’s sleep helps us be more productive, alert and actually helps us achieve more throughout the day. Those who go to sleep late at night tend to spend more time in the morning warming up their brains and getting their day started. You may think the late evening hours are a good time to be productive, but your energy is limited if not spent altogether. If you have trouble going to sleep earlier, then try going to bed an hour earlier and waking up an hour earlier. This can be challenging with all the technology available at our fingertips, but try to turn off your screens at least one hour before bedtime. Success goes hand in hand with a healthy sleep routine, one that helps you go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day. Eventually, you may discover you don’t even need an alarm clock.
Related: 8 Reasons Sleep Is Crucial for Entrepreneurs and Leaders
3. Get rid of your distractions and make a plan
Emails, Facebook messages, LinkedIn messages, text messages and phone calls are endless. In today’s world, it can feel impossible to escape these types of distractions, especially since they trigger a tricky internal conflict. Our logical brain recognizes that social media and our phones inhibit our ability to get work done, but our emotional brain quite literally “lights up” as dopamine is released with each ping, like and notification. The most effective way to work around this is to plan ahead. Carve out a scheduled time for social media and allow yourself some guilt-free time to scroll and text.
Make plans the night before for small things such as what you are going to wear and what you are having for breakfast, as well as bigger things such as setting aside time to work on specific projects. By proactively planning, you can help eliminate the need to think about what needs to be done and spend more time actually getting those things done. It is also important to create boundaries for interruptions. This was a tough one for me. I have learned to create boundaries during certain hours of the day and will not take a call or check emails and text messages unless it’s an emergency.
4. Separate your spaces
Create a dedicated work space. Incorporate items that bring up your energy and make you feel productive. Whether it’s a dry erase board, an extra monitor or something else, make this a dedicated space for your work. Eventually, your brain will be trained to know that when you’re in that space, you’re going to be 100% focused on getting things done. Have a separate space for doing whatever relaxes you or takes your mind away from work for a bit. I have a mini trampoline in my office for this. Not only does it give me a fun break, but it also gets my blood flowing and my body moving. Ensure that you keep the two spaces separate and make time for both rest and play. Your brain needs time to unwind, relax and take a break. You can’t be 100% focused all day long. By taking time to rest and play, you allow your brain to recharge and refocus.
5. Eat your frog
Mark Twain said, “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.” Start by identifying your most challenging tasks. Your “frogs” are your most difficult and important tasks. Eat your biggest frogs first thing each day. I have found it is more productive to accomplish your hardest tasks first. It can be tempting to do easy tasks first to warm up to the larger tasks at hand, but this itself is a form of constructive procrastination. Since willpower is an exhaustive resource, it is best to focus your energy on the hardest tasks first rather than burning yourself out with several smaller tasks. Those who begin their day with their most challenging project or assignment tend to be more successful and productive in the long run. If you choose your hardest tasks first, it sets you up for success for the rest of the day and the next day as well. It’s the same thing as hitting the gym first thing in the morning; your body will continue to burn calories for the rest of the day and sometimes even into the next day.
An entrepreneurial mindset goes beyond these five things, but if you can zero in on some if not all of these, you will see major changes. Mindset is the thing that carries you when things get tough, and as every successful entrepreneur will tell you, the road is bumpy. I’ve been through my fair share of trials and tribulations, but I have found that when my mindset is in the right place, it makes even the most challenging of hurdles much easier to conquer.
Related: This Simple But Effective ‘Positivity Challenge’ Will Completely Change Your Mindset