1. Revisit your purpose
It’s important to constantly revisit the reason why you started your business. Make sure it’s still engaging. Decide if it needs to be altered or amended. Reflect on other compelling reasons for building your business. If you fail to do this at regular intervals, you can get hung up in the “what” and “how” of running your company and forget why you started it in the first place. Remember, if you have a strong “why,” you can get through any “what” and “how.” This process will keep your zealous tenacity engaged.
While revisiting your purpose, also reflect on the advantages of business ownership. Remember that boss who drove you crazy on your last job? Well, now you get to call the shots. You can create your own strategy. You can hire who you want. You can make changes quickly. You can fix things that don’t work. You can operate according to your own values. You can build equity in your business. And you can go to your kids’ soccer games and school assemblies. Reflecting on the advantages of ownership — as opposed to being unengaged in a corporate structure — will help keep your zealous tenacity alive.
2. Manage your thoughts
We often find it more helpful to ask, “How are you thinking today?” rather than “How are you feeling?” A great deal of research supports the concept that we feel the way we think. When we have negative or scary thoughts, various chemicals like cortisol and adrenaline are released in the brain, causing feelings of anxiety and depression. When we think positive and optimistic thoughts, happy neurotransmitters are released, helping us feel better. As Viktor Frankl concludes in Man’s Search for Meaning, we can’t always control our external circumstances, but we can control our mental responses to those circumstances. The ability to choose our thoughts is one of the greatest freedoms of our mortal existence. The successful entrepreneurs we’ve talked to are masters of optimistic thinking, which keeps their zealous tenacity burning. The key is to focus on all the ways you can make something work rather than the reasons it won’t work. Positive thinking can become your greatest ally.
In addition, managing your expectations plays a critical role in staying passionately engaged in your business. I’ve found that those who think it should be easy often give up prematurely. But those who know it can be hard and get excited to overcome the challenges do much better in the long run.
3. Set and achieve goals
Nothing is more motivating than consistent progress toward a desirable destination. Entrepreneurs who set and achieve goals that are linked to an exciting vision have far more energy than those who don’t. In business, you’re either going forward or backwards, and it’s much more invigorating to go forward.
Here’s the simple goal-setting process I’ve seen used by hundreds of successful entrepreneurs. First, they set attainable goals that are consistent with their longer-term vision. Second, they devise a method for accomplishing these goals. Third, they work their plan with great passion and tenacity. Soon they achieve their goals and enjoy the rewards of success, which increases their confidence and motivation to begin the process again. I call these cycles “propelling events,” because they continue to propel winning entrepreneurs to higher levels following each round of success. This process does wonders for keeping zealous tenacity burning in growing companies.
4. Take regular breaks
Launching a new business is like getting on the freeway and putting the pedal to the metal. If you don’t stop occasionally, you run out of gas or burn out the engine. Some entrepreneurs I know gave up everything for their business for years. Looking back, they feel they could have been just as successful, much less stressed, and a great deal happier if they’d taken some time off from their enterprise every now and then.
We’re all better at the things we love if we take regular breaks from them. We’re better athletes when we take rest days from exercise. We’re better students when we take study breaks. We’re better parents when we also make time for ourselves. And we’re better entrepreneurs when we take time off from our ventures. Taking a break gives us a rest, rejuvenates us, and prepares us to go back to what we love doing. Even if you don’t think you need breaks, take them anyway. The successful entrepreneurs I’ve met are excellent role models for merging livelihood and lifestyle. They continue to do the things they love, whether it’s skiing, boating, hiking, traveling, or time with family. While their entrepreneurial engines are cooling down, they’re rejuvenating their passion for driving.