Stay on target! For those of you that have read previous posts of mine, you know that I occasionally like to toss in a Star Wars reference for good measure. I stick to the original three because that’s what I grew up with.
There’s a great quote in Star Wars IV: A New Hope, “Stay on target.” The line was shouted out by Gold Five in the midst of a massive space battle as the Rebels tried to destroy the Empire’s planet-destroying Death Star. In order to succeed, you had to have a precision shot.
While just three words, it’s a line that sticks with you even all these years later and I think it’s something that small business owners should say to themselves as often as possible, “Stay on target.”
Owning a small business can be a great thing because there’s a freedom that comes with it. There’s no boss to answer to. But that blessing can also be a curse because without a boss to answer to, there’s no one there to make sure you stay on target.
Ideas are a great commodity and you’re probably the owner of your own business because you have great ideas, but if you’re not honing in and focusing on the best ones you’re not moving your business forward.
The real question is: how do you stay on target?
Use an Internet Blocker
It seems counterproductive, but consider blocking the internet for a few hours every day so you can really buckle down on the work that you’re doing. Internet surfing usually starts out with the best of intentions. You Google a specific answer to a problem you’re working on and you find it. But there’s a link within the article that sparks another idea and you follow that one. On the next page, you see an ad that leads to another thought and so on and so on.
30 minutes later you’re ten pages in and completely off track.
Hire a Coach
This is actually something that Intentionally Inspirational founder Jason Wright and his co-host Brandy Montambo talked about on their most recent podcast. Since you’re the boss, there’s no one there to hold you accountable and make you focus on making your business better.
The best solution, hire someone to do it. A business coach or life coach can help you clarify the vision you have for your business and the direction you want to go in. Plus, with regular meetings, that person will hold you accountable and point you back on target when you start to wander.
This sounds really silly, but I do some of my best writing on the treadmill or just after I get off the treadmill. There’s something about a screen-free workout environment that clears my mind. I’m listening to music, the blood is pumping and suddenly I’ve crafted the first half of this blog post. Of course, remembering it is tough, but it helps me gain clarity.
If you need further convincing, remember that exercise is good for the brain.
“The benefits of exercise come directly from its ability to reduce insulin resistance, reduce inflammation, and stimulate the release of growth factors — chemicals in the brain that affect the health of brain cells, the growth of new blood vessels in the brain, and even the abundance and survival of new brain cells. Indirectly, exercise improves mood and sleep, and reduces stress and anxiety.”
Be Device Free
Dave Rusenko, the CEO of Weebly gave some amazing advice to Entrepreneur.com. Rusenko says whenever he’s in a meeting, at dinner or simply having drinks with a person, he makes it a habit to not check his phone or watch. The idea is that you’re giving your full attention to the person or people that you’re with. You’re mentally and physically there.
Think about this the next time you’re having a meeting with your team or a client.
The Question of 9
According to the founder of dating app Bumble, the real key to staying focused on your business is the question of 9.
“Will this matter in nine minutes, nine hours, nine days, nine weeks, nine months or nine years? If it will truly matter for all of those, pay attention to it. If it isn’t going to matter in nine minutes, nine hours or nine days from now, you need to not pay attention to it.”
-Whitney Wolfe to Entrepreneur in 2017.
It’s a great policy to follow as you try to cut down that to do list to something a little more manageable.
Reward Yourself When You Succeed
Setting goals for yourself is great, but sometimes those goals seem so far away that they feel like you’ll never reach them. That’s why a lot of business owners make it a point to celebrate the little wins along the way. Throw a big party when you make it to the finish line, but treat yourself to a movie or dessert when you hit a mile marker.
It’s the small positive reinforcements that are really going to help you in the end and keep you on track.
Written by Erika Towne