Entrepreneurs have faced countless challenges in the past few years. From multiple lockdowns and the rapid pivot to digital during COVID-19, to ongoing political turbulence and now the cost of living crisis – it’s not an easy time to run a business, and many may be questioning how they can keep going.
As an endurance athlete at sea, I had no choice but to master traits of survival, positivity and belief. Now years later, after not believing I had the academic ability to become an entrepreneur, I used the same habits I learnt at sea to successfully build five businesses. By stepping out of my comfort zone I achieved more than I would have ever imagined. I’ve always been motivated by the phrase: ‘if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got’.
The no-cost, time-efficient mindset tools I use have been vital to my entrepreneurial journey, and are excellent methods of building resilience during testing times. Mindset is key to many of life’s obstacles, including stepping out your comfort zone in business – when you’re in control of your habits and attitude, you’ll be faced with opportunities over barriers. For entrepreneurs especially, the boundaries between habits at work and in personal life are blurred, and it is paramount that they’re controlled, addressed and streamlined.
The value of visualizing became clear to me when I was challenged to complete the Atlantic Ocean row, solo. After starting out with my husband, we quickly discovered he had a crippling phobia of the open ocean. To complete the row solo and without a support boat, I knew I couldn’t rely on anyone else’s belief in me: I had to imagine the possibilities and opportunities of succeeding myself.
To cope, I ran a movie in my mind, as if on a big cinema screen, of all the challenging moments that I would face if I continued alone (sharks, storms, loneliness…). I imagined myself handling them effortlessly. As an entrepreneur, I use this same technique before a big sales pitch or when I need to have a difficult conversation with a colleague. This form of mental preparation allows business owners to be more in control of their own performance and, consequently, the outcomes for these important business milestones.
Learn how to habit stack
It’s notoriously hard to implement new habits, or change old. Creating the business you want means taking control of which habits you choose. Certain habits are proven to improve positive thinking and mental wellbeing, such as exercise, more sleep, gratitude, music, mindfulness and consciously choosing to be positive.
I recently started ‘habit stacking’ after reading James Clear’s book, Atomic Habits, which demonstrates the value of combining two habits. I now choose a habit from the above list and combine it with one I already have on autopilot, such as brushing my teeth. My most recent successful habit stack is putting my gym gear out ready for the morning after I have brushed my teeth the previous night, which has really helped me be more disciplined about exercising before work.
Being resilient in business starts with building foundational habits in your personal life. If we can nail a few of these positivity-boosting habits, we are much more able to be more positive when dealing with our customers and colleagues.
Choose your attitude
After battling with many dark and lonely nights at sea, I was forced to learn how to support myself. I implemented a method I call the ‘How bad is it? Scale’ from one to ten, where one was being eaten by a shark, and 10 was making it across the Atlantic to the finish in Barbados. The scale helped put things in perspective, and made me feel more positive and in control of my situation.
As an entrepreneur, it’s easy to get frustrated by the lack of resources at our disposal, or by how far away the current target can seem, but once things are put in perspective it’s much easier to choose a more positive attitude. Sometimes all we need is a little glimpse of hope to keep us moving forwards.
In these times of inflationary pressures, geopolitical turmoil, and supply change challenges, there is so much that is out of our control as business owners. However, the one thing we always have control of is the attitude with which we show up. It will take some work to build positivity boosting habits, running movies in your mind’s eye of how you will manage challenges and a mindset tool like the ‘How bad is it? Scale’ to put things into perspective, build our resilience and guard our mental wellbeing.