Does this sound familiar? “Before I’m even fully awake in the morning, I start worrying about my business—the bank account, the staff, the clients or the proposal I have to write.” I hear this from business owners all the time, and my day used to start this way, too. Even worse was the soul-crushing doubt that accompanied these thoughts, “I’m not sure I have what it takes.”
Starting our day this way makes it hard to think clearly and act confidently.
There’s a better way. Here’s my daily morning ritual to help you de-clutter your mind and replace negative thoughts with ones that generate excitement and enthusiasm for your business. This matters, because our feelings are the fuel for our actions. It’s easier to grow our business when we start the day by feeling good.
Daily Thought Download
Our minds are cluttered. This is true for people in general and for business owners in particular. Our minds contain all sorts of information about what we have to do, regrets about what we already did and anxiety about the future. We have thoughts about relationships, health and money. We’re trying to avoid danger and evaluate risk.
One of the most valuable ways to clear your mind for the day is with a “thought download.” With pen and paper, simply write down what you’re thinking in the morning. Taking your thoughts out of your mind and putting them on paper makes it possible to see them clearly.
Many thoughts will be worries about your business—cash flow, employees, contracts. You’ll have thoughts about yourself and your abilities, like “I don’t know what to do,” “I can’t believe this happened again” or “I’m so tired and stressed.” Write it all down.
Seeing thoughts as sentences in black and white makes it possible to evaluate them objectively and decide whether to continue thinking them. In other words, it’s the first step to managing your mind to create the results you want.
Managing Your Mind
The next step is to use a tool I call the “model of reality” by applying it to the contents of your thought download. The model simplifies everything into five things: circumstances, thoughts, feelings, actions and results. It works like a formula. It’s simple—and POWERFUL.
The formula is: Circumstance -> Thought -> Feeling -> Action -> Result
Circumstances are conditions that are facts. For instance, someone on your staff makes a mistake. Then you have a thought about it: “I have to do everything myself.” This thought causes a feeling, like frustration. Feelings lead to actions: you criticize the employee, complain to a friend, fix it yourself. Actions create results: your relationship with the employee becomes strained, and you reinforce the belief you have to do everything yourself.
Once we put everything into the model, we can see it’s not our circumstances that cause our feelings; it’s our thoughts! It’s not what the employee did that causes frustration—it’s our thoughts about what it means. This is great news because we have control over our thoughts—once we’re aware of them. That’s why the thought download is so important. It helps us see our thoughts clearly.
When we’re having negative thoughts and feelings about any aspect of our business or lives, it’s harder to take effective action. But when we manage our mind by choosing our thoughts on purpose, we can create feelings of love, connection and appreciation, which makes taking action feel like the wind is at our back.
Putting It Together
Take the key thoughts from your thought download and put them in the format of the model to identify the feelings these thoughts cause. Then you can ask, “What do I usually do when I feel that way?” Next, consider the results of those actions. Then you can try on new thoughts that create different results.
You can generate alternate thoughts by asking yourself a question like, “What’s another way to see this?” Or you can come up with other ways you’d rather feel, like curious. If you’re curious instead of frustrated, you can think, “I wonder how I can simplify my business? How can I make it easier for my employees to avoid mistakes?” Then answer those questions and decide what to change.
This ritual of starting your day with a thought download, followed by using the model to identify the thoughts that will create the feelings that will inspire your positive actions, has the power to get the results you want in your business—and your life.
This blog originally appeared as an article in NAWBO one.