Successful people share a common characteristic: mindfulness.
Awareness of who you are and why you are where you are in life is a critical to self-improvement.
Unfortunately, in our fast-paced society with its endless number of distractions, mindfulness is not easy. That is why I am writing this article, most people aren't even mindful of the fact that they aren't practicing general mindfulness!
So how can we become more mindful? We will do this by making it a routine. This routine as outlined below will provide you with a comprehensive set of questions to ensure you are aware of all important aspects to your success.
I ask myself these same questions every night to develop my own mindfulness. I am not perfect at this process and it is still difficult for me at times, but I am certain it makes a positive impact in my life.
Each day, I fail to do a number of the items in this reflection. That is exactly why I need it.
Think about it, does an auto mechanic work on your car before identifying what is wrong with it? No, it's not possible. This is why mindfulness is so important. We often don't know where we are falling short because we don't take the time to reflect on our daily actions.
Several of the questions below relate particularly to entrepreneurs, but can be changed to better fit your life. The questions you ask are not as important as the process itself. Your questions should be whatever helps remind you of your goals and keeps you accountable to your own self-improvement.
#1 How did I provide value?
You will get all you want in life, if you help enough other people get what they want. – Zig Ziglar
There is no business without value. I am focusing on “business” here because this is a business blog after all, but at the heart of things, value is an integral part of our general happiness. It is not easy to feel good about yourself if you aren't doing good for anyone else.
#2 Did I study in my field? If so, what did I learn?
Formal education will make you a living; self eduction will make you a fortune. – Jim Rohn
Each day, we have the opportunity to get better or worse. Keep in mind, when you aren't improving, you're falling behind your competitors. Someone else is waking up earlier, focusing more, and working harder. They are not going to stop when you do. I love to think that when I am working harder, my competitors are sleeping or relaxing.
This approach may not work for you, as comparing your success to others is not always the best option for certain personality types. I am competitive and enjoy pushing myself towards my competitors.
#3 Did I leave my comfort zone today?
You will either step forward into growth or will step backward into safety. – Abraham Maslow
Staying in your comfort zone will slow or even halt your development as an entrepreneur. Leave your comfort zone as often as possible. The boost of self-esteem you get when you push yourself past what you want to do to what you need to do is far more gratifying than hiding from discomfort.
#4 What was my biggest accomplishment today?
Success gives you real ammunition. When something succeeds, you know what worked—and you can do it again. And the next time, you’ll probably do it even better. – Michael Hyatt
Now that the day is done, it is perfectly ok to spend a couple of minutes patting yourself on the back for your achievements. Consider why these daily victories happened and how you can build upon them.
#5 Where Did I Fail Today?
If you learn from defeat you haven't really lost – Zig Ziglar
“Failing forward” is what the truly great business leaders do. You may not like this part, but it is critical. Don't spend this time beating yourself up for your mistakes, but rather spend this time learning from them.
Why did it happen? Will it happen again? What could you have done differently?
Whatever you do, don't skimp out on this part and don't deflect blame. Maybe everything that went wrong wasn't your fault, but you have a role in it one way or another. Focus on your role. Convincing yourself that others are to blame for everything is not making you any better.
#6 Did I make a new connection today?
If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go with others. – African Proverb
Networking is critical to your success as an entrepreneur. It isn't easy and it is definitely an ongoing process. Dedicate a portion of your day to reaching out to others and building professional relationships.
This can be as simple as favoriting someone else's tweets or sharing their content or it can be as personal as lunch or an extended phone call.
Make a good impression with others in your niche, show genuine interest in what they are up to and let them know you are a fan of their work. Obviously, if you aren't, don't fake it. There is however, something nice you could say about anyone if you take the time to think about it.
#7 Did I make time for family, friends and loved ones?
If it is important to you, you will find a way. If not, you’ll find an excuse. – Unknown
Don't lose sight of what is most important. Sometimes, if you're like me, you may lose track of time when working on something you love. This reflection will help ensure you are keeping track of where your time is really being spent and if you are providing the time your loved ones need and deserve.
#8 Did I show interest in others or just myself? Did I make people feel good?
You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you. – Dale Carnegie
If you aren't careful, you can easily dominate all conversations you have with talk about yourself. We all do it from time to time, some more than others. Try to be a person that people like to talk to. Make others feel you care about them and are interested in what they do. It goes a long way.
Build your reputation by helping other people build theirs. – Anthony J. D'Angelo
You know that person that makes you just feel good when you're around them? That person you would go above and beyond for if they needed just because you like them so much? Be that person for someone else. Make others love to be around you because of how you make them feel. You don't have to be a jerk to succeed in business.
#9 Did I make money today or lose money?
The person who doesn’t know where his next dollar is coming from usually doesn’t know where his last dollar went. – Unknown
When you aren't on a traditional pay schedule, it is critically important for you to understand where you stand financially.
Monitoring your cash flow will also help you gauge your growth and progress. If certain variables have changed and you are losing money, you will notice much more quickly.
#10 Did I act ethically in all business matters?
Being good is good business – Anita Roddick
If you need motivation for why you should act ethically outside of the basic fact that it is the right thing, you should also know that it is good for your business. You could get by with perhaps 99% of the underhanded moves you could make, but becoming caught on the 1% can ruin your reputation and your business.
#11 Did I exercise and eat well?
The first wealth is health. –Ralph Waldo Emerson
This is an aspect that doesn't get the attention it rightfully deserves with regard to success. If you plan to be a successful entrepreneur, you need to fuel your body right. Think of it this way, if you were to become wildly successful but were fat and sick, would you really be where you want to be? I'd rather have my health any day. Overlook this aspect at your own risk. You will be a better entrepreneur when you take care of your body.
#12 What is my main goal tomorrow? How will I do it and what would a perfect tomorrow look like?
Every conflict is won before it is ever fought. – Sun-tzu
The purpose of the evening reflection is not to dwell in the past, but to better prepare yourself for the future. Now that you have reflected on the previous day, you are ready to bring your realizations into the next one. You are stronger now. You can focus on what you have to do tomorrow and remind yourself that “these things must be done first, anything else is a distraction and I am putting off what is most important to my success.”
#13 What am I thankful for.
Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others. – Cicero
Focusing on what you are grateful for will make you a more positive and productive person. When you forget to consider how good things are, you lose ambition to continue to culminate goodness in your life.
#14 Focus on what success looks like for you.
Imagination is a force that can actually manifest a reality. – James Cameron
Picture what success looks like for you. Put yourself there with as much detail as possible. What does it feel like? What would you do? What got you there? Why is it so fantastic? Be as specific as possible and you will begin to subconsciously do the things that will get you there.
Building the Routine
The purpose of the questions above is to develop daily mindfulness. This is something that you should turn into a nightly routine. It does not lose its value from day to day and has the greatest impact when performed regularly.
If you can maintain this practice for 30 days, it will become easy and somewhat of a habit.