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Self-Care

Clearing the mental queue

Whenever I feel stressed out or overwhelmed, I can usually narrow it down to one main reason:

My mental queue is jam packed.

Imagine your mind as an inbox that is overflowing with outstanding priorities, goals, calls, meetings, errands, and countless other distractions. I’m sure most of you don’t have to imagine - in today’s crazy, technology-driven world, this tends to be the default.

Honestly, this is how I feel a lot of the time, especially when I forget to check in with myself.

Whenever I forget to groom my mental queue, it quickly fills up with outstanding commitments.

How do I stop this from happening?

Like most things, it’s simple (I didn’t say easy).

As someone who regularly suffers from paralysis-by-analysis, I have to actively force myself to make decisions, pull triggers, and push stuff out of the door.

In other words, I have to clear my mental queue.

This involves actively mapping out all of my commitments, deciding next steps, and holding off from taking on anything new.

When I don’t do this, I tend to procrastinate and overthink things, which leads to even more stress and less mental bandwidth - it’s a vicious circle.

If you haven’t recently, make a quick list of every single commitment you have and ask yourself, “Does this belong in my mental queue?”

All-in is all wrong

As someone who was recently on a panel that gave feedback to entrepreneurs, I was asked, “Why are entrepreneurs taking advice from full-time employees?”

The first thing that comes to mind when I hear this is the “all-or-nothing” mindset that continues to permeate entrepreneurship.

Sure, there is no shortage of stories that tout a “rags-to-riches” rise to success for entrepreneurs all over the world, but that is exactly what they are - stories.

Over the past decade of full-time freelancing and entrepreneurship, I learned that living life in the extremes is usually a dangerous place to operate. If you’re not prepared, it can be lonely, stressful, and even lead to harmful thoughts of self-worthlessness.

I’ve always been a trial-by-fire kind of person who does better when there isn’t a safety net, but I’ve gone all-in before and honestly, it doesn’t always have to be this way.

I’ve come to terms with the fact that there are countless ways to create your own path.

Going back to the above question, I truly believe that you can always learn something from the person in front of you, no matter how different they may appear to be.

Why are entrepreneurs taking advice from full-time employees? Because many employees have experience with budgets, timelines, product validation, scalable (and unscalable) business models, bringing products to market, and simply talking to other people.

Just because they choose to work for someone else doesn’t mean that they don’t have relative experience to share. In fact, they may have the missing piece to the puzzle you’re trying to solve as an entrepreneur.

The sooner we can dial down the extremism of entrepreneurship, the better off we’ll all be.

Adopting a "one less" mindset

Like many people who struggle with bad habits, I’ve developed a “one more” mindset over the years.

Without even thinking twice, I’ll have “one more” drink, stay out “one more” hour, or try to squeeze in “one more” task while I’m working.

What’s the harm in this?

Like most things, it wouldn’t be that bad if it was just once in a while.

Unfortunately, it isn’t just once. These moments of “one more” compound on each other and end up biting me in the ass. One more drink + one more hour out with friends = one less productive morning.

Instead, what would things look like if I focused on developing a “one less” mindset?

I would probably feel a little better if I had one less drink, I wouldn’t be as grumpy if I spent one less hour out, and I definitely wouldn’t be as stressed out if I took on one less obligation - I would have way more mental bandwidth for the things that matter most to me.

The question is: how does someone adopt this “one less” mindset when they’ve built up a series of unhealthy habits that make it easier to say, “I’ll have one more…”?

I’m not exactly sure yet, but this is a question that deserves at least one more minute of my time.

Personal day

Today, I'm taking a personal day.

I am staying home to drink tea, write, take care of a few chores, and maybe even play video games (Spider-Man for PS4 anyone?)

Why am I telling you this?

It seems as if people only take personal days once it's too late. They wait until they're exhausted, stressed out, sleep deprived, overworked, and sick.

Instead, why not be proactive and give yourself the chance to take a breath once in a while?

After all, we're only human and, no matter whom you work for, you won't be of any use to them if you're unhappy and sick.

Consider taking a personal day before you need it.

A little self-care can go a long way.