It’s a sunny Spring day. Spring is a time of optimism and of making plans. Every print and digital advertisement shouts about plans to get fit for the summer and supermarket shelves are brimming with new seasonal produce.
On days like today, many people ‘wake up’ out of a winter hibernation and feel compelled to take action or inspired to address their personal or business plans. Longer days and warmer weather seem to brighten up our winter-grey demeanour and ignite many of us to take a fresh look at things.
Obviously, our homes reap the rewards of a spring clean and in the business world April is often a time for updating goals and practices.
This week Chris Lowe, Director from Shopper Anonymous, reminds us that we should pay attention to ourselves too!
One thing is too often neglected or overlooked in our busy spring cleaning schedules and yet without paying a bit of attention to this, our business may stagnate, our family life may deteriorate and our future may be limited. I’m referring to the one thing that your business can’t survive without – you.
Spring Clean Yourself
Obviously, your business days are only as energetic as you are yourself. After the winter period, which often includes its own unique business challenges, many people who own or manage a small business find themselves running out of steam. There is a limit to how much your body and mind can take on without causing serious damage to your health. Yet so few of us recognise this and categorise our wellbeing as a priority.
Some of the most successful entrepreneurs have unique or quirky practices to keep them full of energy and good health. French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte kept a daily journal to assist his clarity in world domination. CEO of both Twitter and Square, Jack Dorsey probably has a very stressful schedule and he wakes up at 5am every day to meditate for half an hour. Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and countless other entrepreneurs make it a mission to read regularly, reading inspirational business journals or fiction. Barack Obama commits to a 45-minute workout, 6 days a week and believes if you look after yourself in terms of physical fitness, you will feel better, look better and be a more powerful person.
It is a common curse of the 21st century; at the end of a busy day, there is nothing left in you or for you. And yet, if you fail to nurture yourself and make your physical and mental health a priority, you may stagnate, crumble or become ill.
So our top tips for spring cleaning yourself are as follows. Do them all, choose one to focus on each month or just start to let the ideas creep into your consciousness. Your business will thank you.
Take A Look In The Mirror
A close look. How much of your business is constrained or limited by YOU. Are your attitudes limited by what you THINK you know? What sort of image or attitude do you project to your colleagues, employees or clients – not the image you THINK you project, but what you really DO project. Ask for feedback, be humble, and consider yourself to be a work in progress rather than the finished product! Spring clean your ego.
Take advantage of more daylight hours and get out and get active. One bonus of woodland walks or time outdoors is the uninterrupted thinking time – many a new plan or idea has been hatched whilst I have been outside enjoying the warmer spring evenings. Another advantage of physical exercise is the ability to go ‘unplugged’ for a while. Staying digitally connected is draining and often disempowering. Enjoy the sounds nature has to offer or at least listen to some chilled music.
Not the stigma it was once, a mental health illness is more acceptable to talk about these days (although still not as socially acceptable as it should be). Depression, doubts, fears, panic and worries about the business or finances all weigh heavily on the fragile landscape of your mind. Prioritise your mental health by talking, finding a business mentor, prioritising ‘down time’ and taking digital detoxes frequently. An outlet of any kind relieves the crowded brain and creates space to think and feel.
Mentally strong people are not afraid to be alone because it’s a chance to reflect and replenish their energy. Take some time every day to be alone with your thoughts to process what’s happening around you.
Have A Routine And Stick To It
Winston Churchill had a strict routine – he woke at 7am but stayed in bed till 11am working. Not right for many, but for Winston it ticked all the boxes. All the research shows that sticking to a routine makes people more productive and more accountable.
You know you are what you eat so are you slowly turning into a chocolate digestive? Flat, factory made and crumbly? Eating well and nourishing your body is a prerequisite for staying sharp, focussed and healthy. If your work environment resembles a sausage roll and sweet-laden, caffeine-fuelled wasteland change it up. Sugar is the new tobacco and lethargy, disease and irritability are its best friends. Spring clean your food intake and let your business reap the rewards.
Mindfulness is a hard skill to learn. We are endlessly flooded with information and live our lives in a state of permanent ‘connectedness’; connected to our newsfeed, our social media feed, our earphones, our digital devices. In an age where we suffer from information overload from the moment we wake up and reach for our phones, when do we have time to be totally present; actually present and aware of a specific minute in time? Being able to be present, to feel all the feelings and emotions associated with a given moment and use all our senses to fill that moment is like a spring clean for the mind. A breath of fresh air and an acute awareness of you at that moment. Priceless and therapeutic. Those Buddhists were on to something….
If you ask most people where they see themselves when they are 70, they usually say, helping family, exploring the world, indulging in hobbies, retired with no financial worries. Which one of those priorities can you realistically indulge in without your health?
Take a close look at your home and business this spring certainly, but find some time to do a bit of internal dusting also. The rewards will be far deeper than a shiny surface.
Today’s expert opinion is provided by Chris Lowe, Regional Director, Shopper Anonymous.