Entrepreneurial Insomnia

How well are you sleeping? I know many entrepreneurs who aren’t. The reasons are many. One particular friend of mine has been struggling with this for a while. He has started going to bed earlier each evening because he knows he is going to wake up around 3:30 or 4:00 and won’t be able to go back to sleep. So, he has resorted to getting up at that time and working for a few hours from home before heading to his office.

My friend explains that he is awakened because his mind starts churning. The frustrating thing for him is the fact that he knows he’s obsessing over small stuff – sometimes it’s infinitesimally small stuff. Most of the time the thoughts he is having are about things going on in his business that he shouldn’t even be worrying about. I certainly understand what he’s going through – I’ve been there many times myself. So what’s the solution?

For starters, my friend knows he needs to delegate. There are others in his organization who should be handling the issues that are keeping him awake. Thus, the first step in fixing his slumber problem is to make sure that he has people on his team who are responsible for handling the nitty-gritty items so that he can focus at working on his business rather than in it.

The next step in my friend’s process is physical activity. He is used to working out but there are days where he blows it off. Physical exercise produces endorphins which help reduce stress and generate positive feelings. A brisk walk or run along with lifting weights for 30 minutes or more each day will do the trick. If I miss a day due to travel I find myself actually craving my workout regimen. Generally I find that physical activity first thing in the morning gets my day started off right. My friend has re-committed to doing the same.

In addition to daily exercise it’s critical that we spend time becoming centered through meditation. This practice enables us to clear our minds of the clutter that tends to accumulate. My friend has attested to the benefits he enjoys when he meditates for 15 minutes each day. He finds that meditation lowers his blood pressure and pulse rate. He feels calmer as his anxiety melts away.

Journaling is another technique that has been helpful for my friend. He is working to become more disciplined at recording the various aspects of his day in a journal. Notes are made about the high points and the low points – he can then look for patterns that shed light on what might be working in his subconscious to keep him from sleeping.

Each of us has much for which to be grateful. My friend acknowledges this and is working on starting and ending each day in gratitude. I like to take this a step further. Before making any phone call or entering a meeting, I try to hold a thought of gratitude in my mind. It may just be an image of one of my daughters, my wife or my grandchildren. But whatever the thought or image, it sets the tone for my encounters with others, and it keeps a smile on my face throughout the day.

I gave my friend another piece of advice that works consistently for me. One way I avoid becoming too wrapped up in daily frustrations is to “get out of myself.” What does this mean? Very simply I find that when I am doing something for someone else I forget about my own troubles. There are so many ways to do this – large and small. Turning the focus away from ourselves and onto others can be a powerful sleeping pill. We go to sleep with the satisfaction that we helped make a difference in someone else’s life.

My friend is amazing at creating trust and building relationships with others. His whole face shone as he professed that the high point of his day is when he can make a sales presentation or interact with a prospective customer. I told him that he ought to program his schedule so that he can do this at least once a day. We should all make sure that we are doing what we love and enjoy every single day.

Entrepreneurial insomnia can be cured by a cocktail of physical activity, meditation, maintaining a journal, living in gratitude, getting out of ourselves and dose of doing something we love each day. I guarantee that if you follow this recipe you’ll sleep like a baby. Sweet dreams.

You can also listen to a weekly audio podcast of my blog. What you hear will be different than what you read in this blog. Subscribe on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. You can also click on this link – Click here to listen to Audio Episode 2 – The When Affliction.

This blog is being written in tandem with my book, “An Entrepreneur’s Words to Live By,” available on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle (My Book), as well as being available in all of the other major eBook formats.

Death, Taxes and . . .

We’ve always been told that there are no guarantees in life except death and taxes. I submit that there is one more guarantee that’s much more pleasant. We can be guaranteed that every day will be a good day . . . if we make it so. How? Read on.

Whether our day is good or bad depends upon our state of mind. By extension, we make the choice as to whether or not we will generally be happy in life. Being an entrepreneur is a tough gig. There are plenty of obstacles – way too many to list here. We can allow these obstacles to eventually overwhelm us, or we can look at them as opportunities for growth and success. But how do we get our mind right to look at our challenges this way? Here are some ideas that work for me in guaranteeing that every day is going to be a good day and that I’m able to be happy about my life overall.

Smile before answering or making a phone call. Smiling helps to release neuropeptides that counteract stress. Also, dopamine, endorphins and serotonin all go to work when we smile. So there is a positive physiological reaction to smiling that can’t be ignored. And no doubt the conversation will be more pleasant and may result in a positive outcome – all because of a smile.

You know all those e-mails we send every day? We probably send too many because it’s such an efficient way to communicate. Yet, I find life can be pretty dull if we just keep to ourselves. I like to convert some of my e-mail conversations into face-to-face meetings or phone calls. I also find it hard to build relationships exclusively via e-mail. Thus, I build stronger relationships with the personal touch and it makes me feel good to have human interaction throughout the day.

Express gratitude every single day. We have so much for which to be thankful. My day is more fulfilling when I tell someone how much I appreciate them and what they are doing. Gratitude helps me to feel more optimistic and contributes to building stronger interpersonal relationships.

Become centered. Life moves at warp speed for most of us. It’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind and all of a sudden things can spin out of control. Spending a few moments from time-to-time with deep breathing and visualization exercises helps to ground me and restores my calm.

I was a Boy Scout and we committed to doing a good deed every day. I know it’s going to be a good day when I do something for someone else and am rewarded with their smile. This can be as little as holding the door for another person or helping someone put their bag in the overhead compartment on an airplane.

If exercise isn’t part of your daily routine it’s certainly worthy of consideration. A good morning workout and long walk set a pattern for the day. I feel great after sweating and burning calories. I’m able to control my weight as well as ward off stress through physical activity.

Don’t take yourself too seriously. One of the healthiest things we can do – multiple times each day – is to laugh. And if we can laugh at ourselves, that’s even better. As with smiling, laughing offers innumerable health benefits and it’s usually the result of something funny. When we take ourselves too seriously we may become self-conscious and begin to doubt ourselves.

Do at least one creative thing every day. But I’m not a creative person you say. That’s beside the point. We all have the ability to be creative at some level. Find something large or small where we can stretch our minds in a creative fashion. And guess what, you’ll find a nugget of good somewhere in the process.

Finally, be present. This can be very hard for us as entrepreneurs when we’re caught up in the fast-paced life we lead. It’s been my experience that I make fewer mistakes (that can erode the feelings of a good day) when I focus on the moment. Maybe that’s concentrating on a task at hand or something as simple as giving my full attention to someone with whom I’m meeting.

Yes, every day is guaranteed to be a good day if we take the necessary steps to make it happen. I can’t wait for my feet to hit the floor each morning because I’m stacking the deck in favor of this guarantee!

You can also listen to a weekly audio podcast of my blog. What you hear will be different than what you read in this blog. Subscribe on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. You can also click on this link – Click here to listen to Audio Episode 41 – To Proposition or Not to Proposition?

This blog is being written in tandem with my book, “An Entrepreneur’s Words to Live By,” available on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle (My Book), as well as being available in all of the other major eBook formats.

Chronicles of a Loser

Entrepreneurs absolutely do not like to lose. We’re winners at heart. But there’s one kind of a loss that is actually an enormous win. Give up? Let me give you some background. When I got married in January 1974, I was 19 years old; was 6’4” tall and weighed 150 pounds. It took many years before I “filled out.” But something else happened. The filling out didn’t stop. In August 2012, my weight had ballooned to 289 pounds! I had actually begun to make healthier choices in the years preceding this date and at one point had dropped to 245 pounds. But somehow the pounds I had lost were found again.

Carrying too much weight had a number of unsatisfactory consequences for me. My cholesterol and triglycerides were higher than they should be. My blood sugar was elevated and when I vacationed in the Colorado mountains, I huffed and puffed (and wheezed) just walking into a restaurant. My left knee had been weak for years and the extra weight exacerbated the issue. Finally, my clothes fit tightly and the size of my stomach was an embarrassment. A little voice in my head began screaming, “You are a prime candidate for a heart attack!”

To change a destructive behavior we usually need an “aha” moment. Sometimes it IS a heart attack that provides the wake-up call . . . assuming that we wake up afterwards. In August 2012 my “aha” moment was not so dramatic, but it was just as powerful. My oldest grandson was six years of age at the time and his daddy isn’t in the picture. He definitely needs a father figure in his life – a role that I had been filling. The realization that I might not be around when he needed me most hit me like a sledgehammer. But I knew that a diet would not work. And I knew that if the pounds came off too fast, the weight loss wouldn’t last. Thus I embarked upon a complete lifestyle change that has become permanent.

I have always exercised and in August 2012, I was lifting weights three days each week and about 30-minutes of cardio five days a week. Today, in August 2014, I exercise seven days a week for a total of 10 hours. My cardio consists of walking at a pretty good pace – last week I walked nearly 32 miles. A personal trainer adjusts my weight lifting routine every five weeks – something I still do three days each week. And I’ve become addicted to the Fitbit®, a wearable device that tracks my steps, calorie burn, sleep pattern, etc. The goal is to walk 10,000 steps each day – I’m usually achieving 14,000 – 16,000 steps daily.

I love the way I eat. I gave up sugar in 2006; have eliminated dairy, and am mostly gluten-free. The biggest difference maker was cutting out the carbohydrates – mainly the simple carbs. I eat a lot of protein – a cardiologist told me I could eat as much red meat as I wanted – provided I continued doing everything else I am doing. Thanks to the Fitbit® I am able to log everything I eat into a computer program that calculates the number of calories I am consuming. The awareness of calories in vs. calories out has helped me fine tune my food consumption. And I owe a huge debt of gratitude to a medical professional who specializes in blood chemistry and prescribes an extensive regimen of supplements based upon my blood work every four months.

Today, I now weigh 218 pounds – a loss of 71 pounds in two years. I am within eight pounds of the target weight my doctor and I agreed upon. I feel stronger and healthier than at any time in decades. I’ve made excellent progress with my blood work and have been able to eliminate several prescribed medications. My knee doesn’t hurt anymore. My bank account is smaller as a result of the constant tinkering with my wardrobe – stuff just doesn’t fit – but that’s I problem I can live with. My stomach bulge is nearly gone. People who haven’t seen me for a while tell me that the change in appearance is dramatic. A recent scan showed an exceptionally low plaque build-up in the primary arteries of my heart muscle. I have seemingly dodged the proverbial bullet. And my chances of being around for a long time to support BOTH of my grandsons seem pretty good.

I’m glad I paid attention to my “aha” moment. I’m glad I found the way to be healthy that is just right for me. I’m glad I found the tools that I needed to help me with my journey. There’s no turning back. I’m not the least bit concerned about any backsliding because my LIFE has changed permanently. Perhaps you have something in your life that you want to change permanently. I’m a walking testament to the truth that you absolutely can.

This blog is being written in tandem with my book, “An Entrepreneur’s Words to Live By,” available on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle (My Book), as well as being available in all of the other major eBook formats.

Konishiki