As a small business owner, I feel like there can be a collective sense of urgency to end the year better off than we are now. With a bigger boost in income, ramped-up productivity, and larger social followings and subscriber lists.
That’s some serious pressure heading into the holiday season.
Besides, why does wanting more have to mean that life gets harder? Personally, I’m at a place in life where I’m not looking to work more hours, stay up later, or take any fun factor out of my work to operate at a faster pace.
But I think there’s an answer. A solution that gives us more—greater success in business while maintaining (and even growing) a life of fulfillment and happiness.
That’s why in this last quarter of the year, I’m committing to working smarter, not harder in my business. I’m turning my back on any sense of stress-fueled urgency and embracing the line of thinking that steady, purposeful steps forward will bring greater rewards (and joy) to my business and life.
Now, just how does someone accomplish this? I’m not expert, but throughout 2018 I’ve gathered some resources and am taking advantage of new-to-me ones that offer guidance and encouragement in the areas I’m looking to work on.
Here are the five tools and systems I’m using in Q4 to work smarter, not any harder.
How I’m Working Smarter (Not Harder)
The Last 90 Days Challenge
This free challenge from Rachel Hollis offers her usual tell-it-like-it-is preaching packaged in a set of goals and continued support throughout the last quarter of the year.
It involves implementing five steps in your day:
- Get up an hour earlier than normal and use the time for yourself.
- Exercise for at least 30 minutes.
- Drink half of your body weight in ounces of water.
- Give up one food category you know you shouldn’t be eating.
- Write down 10 things you’re grateful for at the end of each day.
I can’t say that I’ve followed the regimen perfectly so far (it’s all about forming habits, right?), but this challenge has been the push I needed to think about doing what’s best for me, not just my to-do list.
One solid habit I’ve formed: listing out my gratitude as part of my evening routine. I keep a small notebook, pulled from my stationary stash, on my nightstand so I can’t forget. Even on a day that hasn’t gone my way, it’s insightful to find 10 things to be grateful for.
And let’s not forget about hydration. It’s amazing how much better I feel when I keep a water bottle glued to my hand. I had a solid hydration habit in college, but as a small business owner, I am guilty of getting glued to my computer screen and not leaving my office (or refilling my glass) for most of the day. Now you can catch me making regular water runs.
I bet you haven’t heard of a nourishment mastermind. Most of my familiarity with masterminds is related to business and buying in for accountability to reach goals.
This mastermind experience, which just started at the beginning of October, is designed to give women (often creative entrepreneurs) guidance on neuronutrition.
What is neuronutrition? My mastermind coach, Erin, defines it as: optimizing your nutrition + wellness for a healthy brain, not just body.
In a way, it’s hacking how the brain operates and using the right strategies to nourish the mind and body for success. I’m in an early learning phase, but the mix of science and tactical tips is a great fit for how I operate. I’m excited to keep learning more about how to create a wellness lifestyle that supports me and my business goals.
I’ll report back after the mastermind wraps up at the end of the year!
The Five Minute Journal
With the #last90days gratefulness challenge top of mind, I remembered that I have a Five Minute Journal. It’s been tucked away not in use for most of this year. One of those things that starts off strong but quickly fades as ‘busy’ takes over.
The journal is a combo of goal setting, gratefulness tracking, and recording day-to-day life at a high level. Just as the name states, it literally takes only a few minutes to work through. Prompts like, “What would make today great?”, “I am…” affirmation, and “3 amazing things that happened today” keep me focused on the good. It’s much more difficult to let stress or hard moments take over when I pull out so much gratitude from every day.
If you’ve read many of my posts (such as what’s in my work bag or how I savored the month of September) on this blog, then you probably know about my obsession with PowerSheets. In short, they are high-level planners that walk you through mindful steps to realize your goals, establish priorities, and work through them in a workflow that best fits your needs.
I buy the yearly versions and find it incredibly helpful to look back and notice patterns, such as when I put too many goals on my plate for one month, and remember what work I have done and what goals I have met. Our brains trick us into always looking head, and I think we all need to celebrate wins, no matter how small, more often.
If you’re reading this post in the month it’s published (October 2018) and are interested in getting hour hands on PowerSheets, their 2019 collection launches on Oct. 24!
My Enneagram Type
I finally took the Enneagram questionnaire over the summer after hearing the buzz and fielding several questions about my personality type. I’m always game for learning more about myself and how I approach work, relationships, etc.
My result: Type 6 (The Loyalist) with Type 3 (The Achiever) and Type 1 (The Reformer) tied as close runners-up.
Straight from The Enneagram Institute, they describe Type 6 as the committed, security-oriented type that is engaging, responsible, anxious, and suspicious.
Right off the bat, I had a feeling that this would be a fit. I can relate to the responsibility, necessity of following rules, and love for details that my personality summary listed. The summary also shed some light on the typical hardships of this personality type, including some anxiety.
Overall, I like to take a skeptical view when consuming content such as this and follow what resonates and feels right. I feel like this is a fit for me, and this quarter I’m trying to be more mindful of how I can prepare, react, and operate in general with a greater sense of self-understanding.
That’s it for this quarter! And while it can feel like a lot on some days, I love knowing that I’m doing my best to actually slow down, learn more about myself, and follow my true passions.