Get Your Head in the Game: 3 Easy Skills to Master Your Mind
Success in life is what you do with your ideas and vision. While action is important, the first step of success deals with training your mind.
While your brain can be a powerful tool for any entrepreneur, it can cause someone to stray from his focus. So many times entrepreneurs find themselves off in the weeds thanks to some thinking that got them into trouble.
If you find yourself struggling with a calm mind under pressure, too much anxiety or plagued by worst-case scenario thoughts, here are three simple skills that with just a little bit of practice and a few minutes a day, will help every entrepreneur master the mind.
Get a meditation practice. Meditation is not just for monks, yogis or hippies.
Even if you never achieve nirvana, the practice of meditation itself will give you significant health benefits. Studies show that meditation is associated with all sorts of improvement, including reducing stress and anxiety, lessening depression and even improving cognitive function in the brain. Research also suggests that a meditation practice can reduce blood pressure, pain response and increase cellular repair and regeneration.
"Mindfulness meditation has been reported to enhance numerous mental abilities, including rapid memory recall,” Catherine Kerr of the Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging and the Osher Research Center told PsychCentral. “Our discovery that mindfulness meditators more quickly adjusted the brain wave that screens out distraction could explain their superior ability to rapidly remember and incorporate new facts.”
To get started, researchers and advocates of meditation suggest anywhere from three to five minutes of devoted daily meditation time when a person first wakes up.
Spend a minute decompressing. You probably think becoming a mental ninja takes a lot of time and energy, but the reality is you can get your brain back on track within a minute.
Kathryn Tristan, researcher at Washington University’s School of Medicine and author of Why Worry? Stop Coping and Start Living, explains some of the problems that can accompany worrying too much.
“I believe that worry is part of a psychological immune system that tries to alert, warn and protect us from possible dangers,” Tristan said in an interview with PyschCentral.com. This sort of reaction can wreck havoc on our health.
She suggests that instead of focusing on the worst outcome, people should think of positive alternatives.
Related: Avoiding Second-Hand Stress
Being an entrepreneur means calculated risks and sometimes long days that can cause you to overemphasize the negative. When you feel yourself spiraling too far down the rabbit hole of worst-case scenarios, recognize that you have the power to exercise your mental muscles and pivot into better thoughts.
Set your watch for 60 seconds and in that time try to think through all the best-cases scenarios that could happen. For example, if you need an expensive piece of equipment for your business, instead of talking about how you can’t afford it, spend one minute thinking up ideas of how you could find a way to make that purchase happen. I
Practice daily idea generation. If your brain is a muscle, then it too can get tired out with exercise. How do you exercise it? Thinking.
In his book Choose Yourself, James Altucher, suggests using brain exercises to overcome doubt, anxiety and to change your life.
One exercise he suggests involves writing down 10 ideas pertaining to anything (and it doesn’t need to be focused strictly on business). The point is to not only brainstorm but also use the “idea muscle and turn it into a machine.”
It makes sense. After a good workout your body has all these great endorphins and you feel happy, relaxed and calm. Working your brain out with some strenuous exercise could produce similar effects on the mind.
This sort of activity can also help when you are feeling restless. Instead of staying up with sleepless nights of worry, anxiety or even anger, get up and find a notepad and start writing down a list of 10 ideas. Make your brain work and tire that mental muscle out with lots of positive reps.
Matthew Toren is a serial entrepreneur, mentor, investor and co-founder of YoungEntrepreneur.com. He is co-author, with his brother Adam, of Kidpreneurs and Small Business, BIG Vision: Lessons on How to Dominate Your Market from Self-Made Entrepreneurs Who Did it Right (Wiley). He's based in Vancouver, B.C.