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The mental beating that entrepreneurs take on a daily basis is no joke.
Every entrepreneur knows what it feels like to have a mind that moves at a million miles an hour, with a never-ending to-do list, and a lack of time to get everything done. It’s really one of the hallmarks of the entrepreneurial struggle.
We work tirelessly to push forward step by step toward our goal of creating something that demands respect. Something that will bring us financial success, change the world, and put us in the company of the world’s elite businessmen.
Here’s the problem.
Being an entrepreneur requires engagement in this constant internal battle to keep pushing against yourself. To keep moving forward when you have nothing left in the tank. It requires constantly making difficult social and personal sacrifices with the aim of achievement of something great.
The bigger the vision, the more that is required of you.
Entrepreneurship isn’t a game. It’s not some hobby you do when you’re bored.
Your reputation, career, and your dream are completely dependent on what you’re willing to give up to make it happen.
What many of us don’t realize is that the perpetual mental and emotional battle takes a serious toll on our well-being.
When you have a million and one things to do every day with a limited of time to get it all done, it becomes normal, customary, to ignore your own needs. We forget to take care of ourselves because we become so conditioned to take action at every moment. We strive for accomplishment from the moment we wake up, and our minds don’t rest until we actually fall asleep.
It’s inevitable that we will feel doubt, fear, and frustration. It’s really a part of the job description. But as I’m sure you know, the way we deal with all the bullshit is what governs our output. The way we face adversity is what defines us.
Your mental and emotional well-being are absolutely vital to your efficiency and productivity. To operate as effectively as possible, one needs clarity, focus, health and to be liberated from one’s own mental anguish.
I don’t care if you have the greatest work-ethic in the history of mankind and you can work 80 hour weeks for months at a time.
If you don’t find a way to take care of yourself mentally, and take time every day to separate yourself from the mental bullshit that goes on inside all of us, you will feel the effect and it will have an impact on the quality of your life.
Early into my second year of law school I had an opportunity to start working with a few friends on a business idea that I really fell in love with.
Law school is tough on it’s own, but I almost immediately started working full time on this startup. I had partners that weren’t in school, and I had to sacrifice my time in order to make all of this work.
I was already that guy that woke up at 5 a.m. to go to the gym and still get to school before 7 to start studying or working before the rest of the world woke up. I knew I had to get even more serious if I really wanted to make it work.
I actually remember having a conversation with myself soon after we really started moving forward in developing our business idea.
“You’re good… This is nothing new… You know how to sacrifice… You know how to sit down and get your shit done… Don’t sweat it… Just prioritize, stay organized, ignore the rest of the world and get it done. This is your time.”
And that’s exactly what I did.
Until one day, a few months later, I woke up really confused.
“Wait, what am I doing? I’m a law student. Shouldn’t I be trying to find a job? I can start making serious money next year.. am I really going to give up on all the work I’ve put into getting into a good law school and killing myself for good grades to start a business? There’s no way I can get this all done.. wow it might actually be impossible. I have no time. I have no life. Where am I going? What do I want?”
The conversation ate at me. There I was, completely lost.
I didn’t know who I was or where I was going. It affected my work output. It affected my studying.
Even though outwardly I was still “making it work,” internally I felt like I was losing control of who I was. I was trying to please everybody. Keep all my relationships intact, keep my family happy, keep my partners happy… and that’s when I realized.
I had forgotten to keep myself happy.
When most people hear the word “meditation” they think about it as some abstract concept. Like its just some random thing people do where they sit and close their eyes for some weird random reason to gain spiritual benefits of meditation.
It’s actually weird for me now to think about why we’re so resistant to just sitting for a few minutes with our eyes closed without engaging in any other activity.
In the end of the day, “meditation” isn’t really an “action.” You’re not really “doing” anything. As an entrepreneur you spend a lot of time in action. You know what it means to move at a fast pace.
Their is an intense effects of meditation on the mind.
Meditation is in one sense, the complete opposite of action, and in another sense, the most active thing a human being do.
As human beings, we have the ability to evaluate our own behavior, consciously. We can take a step back and somewhat objectively look at ourselves with a different set of eyes.
Meditation is the practice of opening that new pair of eyes and has various effects of meditation on the mind.
As an entrepreneur, you should learn over time not to “expect” anything. You do what you can to the best of your ability and the results are well, the results. You can’t change what happens. You can simply evaluate, take action, re-evaluate and refine the approach.
Expectation is one of those human characteristics that almost always defeats us. Nothing is ever as good as we “expect.” The problem is that by having an expectation, we project an image that isn’t based in reality of what we want to happen, might happen, or should happen, which leaves us bitter about what ends up actually happening.
The expectations, doubts and fears all arise automatically as waves in our mind. If you’ve ever had trouble falling asleep, you know the intense experience of being with your wandering mind.
Meditation (at least at first) is similar.
The first step you need to take to start dealing with your own expectation for the day is simple: Before the day starts, sit in a chair or pillow with your back straight, and close your eyes.
We have resistance to “meditation” because it is actually, weirdly, really hard to just be with ourselves. The moment we close our eyes we start dreaming and imagining. We think about the day to come, what we “expect,” what we “fear,” what we “desire.” We think about other people, at what points we felt like someone “wronged us” yesterday. We start judging ourselves.
All you need to remember at the point you actually get yourself to sit and close your eyes is that everything that is going on in your mind, the actual content of what it is saying isn’t important.
Your thoughts move on their own in an indestructible stream, and its only true goal is to continue in perpetuity.
This is where you have to come in and find something stable that you can hold on to in spite of the rapid movement of your thoughts and imagination as meditation has numoerous benefits.
You have two options:
either your breath, or your body.
Here’s the thing about the mind:
There’s nothing stable about it.
You could be thinking about yourself sitting in your chair for one moment and at the very next instant you’re in China where you vacationed last year. Two seconds later, you’re cringing while thinking about how your most recent ex-girlfriend/boyfriend broke up with you.
By contrast, our breath and our bodies don’t move from place to place. They don’t have imagination, they don’t fear, and they don’t expect anything. They simply are.
The goal is to try to find a sensation of a body part, or of the process of inhaling and exhaling. Then, you need to find a way to stay with it.
What you’ll find immediately is that we have such little control over our attention that it’s almost pathetic. That’s actually the reason most people never follow through with meditation in the first place. They think, “I can’t do it.”
All you need to remember is, “I can’t do it,” is simply another slippery thought that will quickly transform into something else.
That’s why you need to find a way to grip either your breath or your body. To find something stable in the midst of the movement.
The most difficult part of all of this is that we inevitably try to stay attentive with our minds, which is largely the most unstable part of our being. When you realize that you’re lost and you’ve wandered off into China or you’re stressing about the day ahead, come back to your breath or body.
I ended my personal story above with, “I had forgotten to keep myself happy.” The connection between what it would mean to “keep myself happy” and meditation is simple. I started to learn not to take the BS that happens in my head so seriously all the time.
When you’re moving quickly through life with an extremely active mind, you don’t have the time to differentiate between what’s valuable and what isn’t. You stop remembering to be grateful. You don’t think about how amazing it is that you have this opportunity to create something amazing, with the God given ambition to actually make it happen.
What I believe is the true hallmark of an entrepreneur is the elimination of a “problem” from your vocabulary. Entrepreneurs don’t believe in “problems.” They only know situations, events, setbacks that are nothing but mere barriers that have to be broken.
But without taking even just a few minutes every day to remember all this, we can lose our vision and our way. Every entrepreneur knows the power of a thought.
Understand the reasons to meditate daily. So meditate. Slow down. Take the time to remember what’s important. Take the time to let your thoughts roam.
Because you have a long day of work ahead of you.