These 4 Tips Can Jump-Start Your Business and Life in 2018
Use these strategies to get your business and life on the right track
It's never too late to take the time to reflect on our business and life successes and shortcomings, learn from them, and begin to plan for a new (and better) year. When I look back on my articles in Inc.com from 2017, what stands out are the topics that people found most interesting and helpful for their lives and careers.
The ones that were most popular are varied--from exercises that improve brain power to the importance of having a hobby. Yet, these stories share a common theme--they offer insight from top business leaders and science on how best to improve your business and career skills by ensuring you stay mentally sharp and find ways to stay present and be more productive.
So in case you missed them the first time (or need a reminder), here are four tips from my top stories this past year that can help you prepare for a more successful 2018.
1. Try slow movement fitness over cardio for added brain health.
It's no surprise that science has found a direct link between exercise and brain health. In fact, research shows that exercise stimulates your hippocampus, the brain region associated with learning and memory -- both critical skills for successfully running a business.
But exercise doesn't have to be all treadmills and free weights. There are great benefits from doing slower movement type activities such as tai chi, yoga, ballroom dancing and even walking.
Not only can these activities challenge you to move out of your comfort zone, but they can improve your brain health in ways that traditional exercise programs don't. For example, a 2017 study showed that an 18-month dance training program created greater brain neuroplasticity -- the ability for your brain to grow and expand -- in older adults when compared to an endurance and flexibility training program of the same duration.
2. Get over your fear of the world falling apart without you.
More than half of American don't take all of their vacation days according to a recent survey. Why? They are afraid they will get behind and nobody else can do their work or that their business will crumble without them. I can't stress enough how important it is to get over this fear. You need to take vacations in order to recharge your body and mind.
I too once feared taking a vacation early on in my career. When I began my first accounting practice, my children were young, and I didn't have anyone working for me.
It's tempting to try and do everything yourself, especially when you own your own business. I would work with my clients all day long, then come home, eat dinner with my family, put my children to bed and then get back on my computer to pay the bills, invoice customers and balance the books.
I'd never take a vacation. And I'd go to bed late, wake up early, and do it all again the next day. I soon realized that this was unsustainable and harmful to me and my family.
I finally overcame my fear of vacation by hiring a virtual assistant (VA) when I took time off when I was a solopreneur. The VA took client calls for me and patched them through--if the matter was urgent.
3. Find a hobby that stimulates your problem-solving skills.
Name an inspirational business leader and odds are he or she has a dedicated hobby. An outside interest not only gives you time to relax and unwind, but a hobby can also stimulate your thinking, learning and problem-solving skills. One of my hobbies is playing the bass guitar. It has helped me to learn how to learn again. Bill Gates and Warren Buffett play bridge and have said that it stimulates their strategic thinking as it's about regularly calculating and weighing gains versus losses. In the same way, Elon Musk and others play video games, while other top executive play chess.
4. Become a master at listening.
Listening is a skill that every business person should regularly work on as it helps them become better leaders, improve their business and uncover new opportunities. It takes more than just not talking to be a good listener. You have to maintain good eye contact, let people finish their thoughts, and ask probing questions when needed. It also helps to work at repeating back at least some of what people have said to you. This makes you focus on what a person says rather than what you want to say next.
As business people we are always striving to be better. By putting these key strategies to practice in 2018, you'll become more aware and agile so you can easily pivot when needed to jump on new opportunities and create more business success.