Self-Mastery Starts with Mastering Self-Control
Self-control is the first area all entrepreneurs must master. It serves as the foundation for every decision you make. Understanding the difference between impulsive and rational choices, and how you respond to certain stimuli when making decisions is vital. Think about it. If you know that you are prone to making impulsive decisions that are driven by emotions, you can set up internal systems to hedge against wasting your time and/or money. In my web design business, I call it the “Shiny Object Syndrome.” Because I tend to be impulsive, when I discover new software or services that I want to buy, I have an internal process to handle that decision. That internal process usually results in me not buying the “shiny new object” and saving money because I already have something that is functionally similar.
As a successful entrepreneur, you should strive to ensure that every business decision you make is rationally based. This means getting your emotions in tune with your business and goals. Starting out in your business, you will have multiple competing desires that you want to achieve at the same time. Unfortunately, those desires may not occur when you want them to, or even at all. This may leave you feeling discouraged and frustrated in your business. That could then lead you to make decisions that you believe will “force” the result you want into existence. Emotional-impulsive responses to negative stimuli are never a good means of advancing your business. Failing to control yourself puts everything you are working towards in jeopardy. Understanding how you make decisions is the first step towards taking control of your future as an entrepreneur.
Here are few tips to help you master self-control as an entrepreneur.
1. Change Your Mindset
It all starts in the mind. You must identify the things, people, issues that derail your momentum and find ways to counter them. Sometimes it is as simple as managing your expectations. Most negative responses come about because expectations were not met. This causes disappointment which leads to impulsive reactions to lessen the disappointment. It is a vicious cycle that successful entrepreneurs must avoid. A better approach would be to analyze everything using the “if-then” technique. Taking this approach allows you to analyze the consequences of every decision you make, and ultimately to take proactive control of your business and personal life.
2. Momentum Breeds Momentum
Your willpower to consistently exercise self-control will not develop overnight. It is a process that takes time to grow. Having the willpower to not be lazy when it comes to your business will have a tremendous impact. It strengthens each time you overcome an obstacle that once derailed you. When your thinking is focused on the right things, you will stay motivated to keep working towards your goals. Over time, you will find that you focus on solutions rather than problems. You will make decisions based on what is the best option in the long run, and create plans on how to achieve them. Successful entrepreneurs know that they not only have a choice, but they alone possess the power to make that choice. Willpower is the fuel needed to drive good decisions.
3. Know Your Weak Points
We all have areas of weakness in our lives. For entrepreneurs, it is important to identify and address them early on in your business. Successful entrepreneurs not only identify their weak areas but go further to set boundaries to safeguard against them. For some, it may be that you are prone to having tunnel vision when it comes to your business and you miss out on new opportunities as a result. For others, it may be that you are easily distracted by the “next new trend” and fail to complete tasks before moving on. Creating systems that address whatever weaknesses you identify will ensure that you continue to exercise self-control even when the right choice runs counter to your very nature. Turn your weakness into a challenge that you are ready and able to overcome.
4. A Vision of the Future
One of the main impediments to exercising self-control is a lack of focus on the future. When you started out as an entrepreneur, you were filled with excitement, hope, and a vision for your future. But those visions slowly became obscured by the urgency of now. Rising overhead costs, lack of new leads, and other growing pains can drive you to make impulsive decisions. Take a breath and know that you are not the first to experience these issues. What will separate you from others is whether you will allow the negative of today to destroy the possibility of tomorrow. All successful entrepreneurs understand the importance of a positive outlook. When times are hard, dig in and focus on the things you can do now that will benefit you in the future.
5. Quiet Your Mind
Stress is the mortal enemy of self-control. When you are stressed, you are almost incapable of exercising self-control. The decisions you make while under stress are focused on lessening the stress and not fixing a problem. Entrepreneurship is stressful. You need to be prepared to manage that stress before it manages you. It may be as simple as stepping away for fifteen minutes to stretch or take deep breaths to regain balance and control of your emotions. The pressure on entrepreneurs will build up and if it is not managed effectively, will lead to negative results. Incorporating times of mediation or self-reflection into your routine will help you maintain control and give you an opportunity to relieve pressure.
Exercising self-control is a hallmark of a successful entrepreneur. Mastering this skill is vital to success. The ability to control oneself, in particular, one’s emotions and desires or the expression of them in one’s behavior in difficult situations, takes time and practice. How do you exercise self-control in your business? What tactics do you use to keep yourself in check? Comment below. I’d love to hear from you!