3 Steps to Getting Your Focus On

Several trade-offs invariably happen when you choose (or discover the burning passion) for being an entrepreneur and startup junkie. First, you will frequently ride a roller coaster of emotions as you work feverishly to get your product or solution to market. Next, you will find yourself lonely (or judged) as friends and family wonder why you don’t choose the safer path inside “established” companies. And finally, you will be wildly stretched mentally and creatively nearly every day to do things you may not have ever done before. IF all these things sound simply fabulous to you, you should hurry out and start something of your own, part-time or full-time. 

I’m incredibly blessed to have been part of several start-ups, including my consulting practice, where I support CEOs and Co-founders in their quest toward this crazy dream. Additionally, I proudly serve as the Co-founder and COO at Thrivacy. I rely on an amazing network of colleagues to help challenge me via accelerators, user groups, peer communities, and the like. 

Over the years, I also built up a daily practice to keep me grounded. No matter how overwhelming the challenges seemed to be or unlikely the opportunity for success at crossing the next obstacle appeared, I knew if I started my day out with focus and clarity, I would stand the best chance of ending my day with the knowledge that I was going to sleep in a better place than how I woke up. I believe mindset is the first ingredient in success, and even if my “cake” looks and tastes different when I finally bake it. It is OK! I am positive I’ll be thrilled with the outcome. Some call this a Pollyanna attitude or over-the-top optimism. I counter that with the notion that this burning belief feeds my drive and will result in the win. 

So, what is this daily practice? Really, it’s quite simple. I have a 3-step morning ritual to get my focus on that I commit to before my day gets started.

Practice Gratitude

I have a small journal dedicated to my daily gratitude practice. Each day I start out first by writing out a list of current gratitudes, “I am grateful for … “

I let this come out without any censoring or editing of my thoughts. Somedays, this list is quite long and very formal; other days, the list is short. It might contain mundane gratitude like my morning coffee or something heavier on my mind around a current family member or world event. Anything I write is ok and correct for my daily list. 

Then I turn the page and write out my future gratitudes, “I am grateful NOW for ….” and write out something I want to be grateful for in the future with a NOW sentence. I then underline the word NOW.

When I am all done, I go back and read out loud the present list and say thank you after each item. Finally, I read the future list and have a personal anchor phrase I say out loud after each item. This whole activity takes me about 5-7 minutes. 

Create The Plan

I’m usually pretty energized (and, to be honest, I’m drinking my morning coffee, too), so I’m ready to head to my daily plan. I do this because I found if I plan my day, I feel more in control than flying by the seat of my pants. With a plan I can refer back to, I can easily see what I accomplished. While everything I do is on my computer, I still take the time to do this activity on paper. 

I look at my calendars (yep, I have more than one) and put any meeting on my page for the day. Then I write out my big tasks for the day as to-do list items so I can cross things off as I complete them. I refer to the prior day for anything that didn’t get done. If something has been on my list for three days, I commit to either completing it today or accepting that I don’t consider it important and let it go until I can reschedule it for another time (or delegate it). I stop filling my list with clutter. 

With my to-dos and meetings in place, I then see what else I need to plan for in the day and add it. This might be time for a specific task or brainstorming, time for research on ideas, networking and connecting with new people, etc … AND I make sure I have time for my family and my health reserved on my calendar.  This process also takes me about 5 minutes.

Visioning Successful Outcomes

The last step is looking to those big meetings and events of the day.  I take a few minutes to run through that meeting in my mind and vision the conversation and outcome. Much like an athlete runs a race in their mind before it happens. The more clarity I can give this process, the better the meetings always go. 

My morning ritual runs about 15-20 minutes when everything is said and done. A small investment in time has proven to pay me back great dividends.  Do you have any morning rituals that give you clarity and focus on the day ahead? I’d love to hear about them!