There are two things you experience that can prevent you from achieving your entrepreneurial goals:
- Burning out
Whilst we’ve detailed the science of preventing burn out here before, I wanted to add to that with insights from Navy Seal Platoon Commander and INC 500 CEO Alden Mills.
I spoke to Alden on my podcast recently about his strategies to prevent both, and he insisted it’s all about focusing on the moment, and not everything you need to achieve at once.
“If a startup founder today isn’t focused on just the next thing and instead focuses in on, ‘Oh, my gosh, how am I going to get all these other things done to grow my business from X to Y,’ it can become overwhelming. And many times I tell entrepreneurs, focus on the moment, not the mountain.“
As I told Alden, when you start a business, it’s very easy to think about your two-year plan, five-year plan, and ten-year plan, and too much on the end game.
But that’s a trap that causes you to miss the moment.
Alden says the mountains never stop coming, so don’t expect anything when you reach the top of one.
“The last thing you want to tell any entrepreneurs that, hey, it’s just a destination. Once you get to X sales, you’re good. If you’re done this right, it’s not going to really matter about X, Y or Z in sales. What’s going to matter most is I joined this journey because it’s something worthwhile and meaningful to me.”
Alden says if you’re not passionate about a problem you’re solving, then you’re in it for the wrong reasons.
“I’m getting fulfillment from that. And oh, by the way, I get a paycheck, too?! How cool is that?”
Exercise to Execute: Three Steps to Stay in the Entrepreneurial Game
“Number one, if you’ve decided to go into the entrepreneurial world, you will need stamina. You need to stay in shape.“
Alden says it will an “awful experience” if you neglect your health while you’re going through a stressful period of starting a business.
Alden says the other great metaphorical comparison with starting a business “is look at it from the point of view of getting in shape.”
“Let’s pretend you want to lose 40 pounds. First of all, let’s remember we didn’t put on 40 pounds overnight. It’s going to take a fair amount of time in the way exercise works.”
Alden says once you’ve slugged it through the first 30 days where you notice not much, get to the next 60 where there’s more change, and finally get to 90 days, “a transformation is visible.”
“So there’s that period of time, like you’re pulling back a slingshot and you’re putting energy into something that you’re not getting anything out of. You’re just giving of yourself. Giving them yourself. Giving yourself.“
Alden says all of sudden, there’s “a hockey stick of progression” that starts to occur.
“I am a huge believer in doing something every day.”
Alden says the third element of exercise isn’t just the stamina you need — it helps you deal with the doubt you’ll experience.
“You will find yourself doubting yourself quite a lot. And if you get to that point, go for a walk, go for something slightly aerobic, and you’ll start to see as you get more oxygen going up to your brain; one, you’ll become more focused and two, you’ll become more creative, and three, you will also start to become more positive towards the challenges you’re facing.”
It’s a long game. So don’t focus on the whole mountain; focus on one step at a time. Turn up every day, exercise, and remember — there is no destination.