Looking to grow as a creative business owner without having to think so hard about it? Habits are your key to finding the success that you’re hoping for, without all of the strife.
We creatives a colorful group, with varying experiences, interests, and goals, which is why I encourage you to identify the habits that will best align with your ideals. Below you’ll find the five that have been working for me in this season of life.
HABIT 1 – Physical Fitness
I’m just like most of you. I don’t like exercising. I’m pretty clumsy, not athletic and I hate getting sweaty. So I’ve had to reframe these torture sessions into something that doesn’t feel so tedious.
Why are you working out?
When you’re in the middle of it, you’re going to forget why you signed up for it. Have a visual to use throughout your exercise session to get you through it. Here are a few that I typically employ:
• I’ll picture myself looking awesome in a bathing suit.
• I’ll imagine that I’m working out with people who I admire.
• I’ll think about eating cookies without concerning myself with weight gain (I wouldn’t recommend this, just keeping it real).
How working out will help your business to grow
While you may be working out to achieve physical results, you redeem the added benefit of conditioning your mind at the same time. Every time you complete a workout, you’ve demonstrated to your subconscious brain that you are capable of:
• pushing outside of your comfort zone
• sustaining concentration
• harnessing inner strength
These are qualities that successful business owners need to go after opportunities like collaborations, sponsorships or booking your dream client. The next time you’re about to attempt something that feels implausible, your mind will gather data to refute it (by recalling those workouts that you crushed), which will propel you to take the first steps.
Let’s not forget to talk about how fabulous you feel when you are at a weight that’s healthy for your body type. When you’re looking your best, you’re going to act your best, and opportunities will begin to drift your way, without you even needing to ask.
Resources for staying physically fit
We’re really good at coming up with excuses for why we can’t work out, with “I don’t have the time” leading the charge, followed by other offenders like, “it’s too cold/hot outside,” and “I don’t have enough money.”
It is just as easy to find solutions if you really want to be physically fit (and you should). Here’s what I use:
• Free workouts on YouTube (PopSugar Fitness and Yoga with Adrienne are my favorites).
• Weights (yes, I use the wimpy ones) and a yoga mat that’s similar to this one.
• My Apple Watch (the accountability that it provides you with is well worth the splurge.)
HABIT 2 – Meditation
The crazier your life is, the more you need this. Even if you have never been able to get it to “work.” Especially if you don’t believe that it will make a difference. Try it again, and keep trying it.
Why are you meditating?
It feels incredibly self-indulgent to take time for yourself to sit in silence. You’re the one practicing it, but it’s not really for you. Meditation helps you to become more centered. In this state, you’ll be better equipped to show up for everything and everyone else.
In your practice (and you will need to practice), keep your focus on your breath, but also:
• your loved ones
• your clients and customers
• the person that you strive to be
If you’re feeling like you don’t have the time to meditate because you have to return an email or fulfill that order first, remind yourself that the person who you are after meditation is a better person for the job. Any job. That’s why so many people like to do their practice first thing in the morning. #protip ????????♀️
How meditating will help your business to grow
• Do you ever get stuck trying to make the best decision, only to end up making no decision? Meditation will provide you with the clarity you’re looking for and will save you from all of that overthinking.
• Do you ever feel totally overwhelmed by everything that you’re responsible for? Meditation will help you pinpoint the essential actions that are required of you, and will give you the peace of mind to let go of the rest (whether that’s through outsourcing or eliminating).
• Do you ever feel like you’re alone in your struggles? Meditation helps you to tap into a deeper part of yourself and opens you up to be more compassionate towards others. With a renewed sense of self, you’ll be receptive to connecting with the right people who will help you to learn and grow.
To put it simply, stressed out, overwhelmed people do not make smart decisions. Meditation helps you to naturally think and act in a way that better serves everyone.
Resources for meditation
• I’ve been using the Headspace app for years, and it just keeps getting better.
• I also use the Breathe function on my Apple Watch to do mini-meditations (breathing exercises) throughout the day.
HABIT 3 – Gratitude
How can such a simple act change the way you see everything? Easy. By focusing on what is good, you’ll have no room to take in the things that aren’t.
Why do you need to be intentional about gratitude?
For me, gratitude and abundance (my word of the year), go hand in hand. Without appreciating the wonderful things, people and experiences around you, you’ll never be able to recognize what you’re hoping for when it comes your way. It’s kind of like trying to locate a stranger in a crowd of people. Unless you know what they look like, they are going to walk right by you.
Don’t wait for Thanksgiving to roll around. Or for a big scary event to happen that prompts you to appreciate what you have. There are things in this moment, in every moment, that you will feel incredibly happy if you stop to recognize them.
How gratitude will help your business to grow
Anyone who has ever experienced a surge in success knows that it started with a kernel of something that was already working. When you’ve you’ve tried everything to accelerate your business, and you still feel stuck, try practicing gratitude to:
• shift your perspective
• help you to spot opportunities
• transform you into a happier person.
If you’re in a depressed state, your outlook is clouded and you are going to miss spotting the good stuff— those small, but significant starting points that have the power to elevate you from newbie to pro.
For example, look back on your last five social media posts. Did anybody like them, or leave a comment? Don’t compare yourself to Oprah’s numbers. Even if you only have a single person engage with you, and it’s your mom, that’s something to be grateful for.
Start with that. How can you multiply the love you’ve gotten from that one person to grow to reach two people, four people, and so on?
Resources for practicing gratitude
• A pen and paper will bring you far. Jot down three things that you are feeling grateful for at the start or end to each day.
• The Abundance Book. As I write this, I’m in the middle of the book’s forty-day guided journey and I have already noticed a transformation. If you’re new to the world of mindset you might find it to be a bit too woo-woo, but if you have an open spirit, I would absolutely recommend it.
HABIT 4 – Education
If you’re like me, adopting this habit will feel effortless. Unlike the three listed above, learning every day is not something that I need to put on my calendar or track the progress of. It is as instinctual as eating or showering— a great indicator that your habit has stuck.
We all learn daily, whether we recognize it or not. Life gives us lessons, but what are you taking in on your own?
Why are you getting educated?
The old adage, “knowledge is power,” still rings true today. The only thing that has changed is the speed at which information is released and shared. Don’t think too hard about that. It’s overwhelming. We shouldn’t make it our aim to keep up with everything— only what is essential to our work and interests. When you do, it will:
• give you confidence
• make you a more interesting person
• position you as a thought leader
Honing in on those relevant topics is what will elevate you to expert status. Think of three people in our industry that you admire. How would you describe them and what they do? The individuals that came to mind for me all have something in common. They are masters in one craft.
World-class athletes practice every day. Even if they’ve already won a gold medal. If you think that you’re already an Instagram Pro, or that your Etsy shop takes the cake, remember that there’s always more to be learned. If education is not already a part of your daily routine, you are denying yourself of a higher level of success.
How education will help your business to grow
Let’s go back to those three individuals that I asked you to identify in the last section (paragraph two of “Why are you getting educated?” if you skimmed over it). There is a reason why you hold those people in high regard. They have the answers to the questions that others are searching for because they’ve committed to finding those solutions.
We like to tell ourselves the story that experts are born with success. That they are so far ahead of us because they don’t need to try. On the contrary, they try hard and often because they care so much about their craft. Your business will grow when you dedicate yourself to learning as much as you can about your niche.
Are you a blogger? What can you tell me about SEO?
Do you make and sell jewelry? What are the latest fashion trends?
Does your online shop cater to parents who are looking for birthday invitations? What types of parties are kids into these days?
Whatever you do, whatever you sell, you should immerse yourself into learning something new about your area of focus every day, if you ever want to call it your area of expertise.
Resources for education
• The only way that I’m able to read as much as I do is because of my Audible.com subscription. I don’t always have time to sit down with a paperback, but I can always pop in my headphones and learn while I’m cooking dinner, doing laundry or doing design work.
• Podcasts. Another game-changer for education, especially when it comes to keeping up with the latest information. And it’s free! I will never get over how much quality content is available for us to consume, without cost.
• Books, blogs, articles. Even if you read one page or one paragraph a day, you’ll be ahead.
HABIT 5 – Affirmations
I’m purposely sharing this last because it’s kind of weird and very few of you are going to put it into action. The irony is, it requires far less effort and yields more powerful results than any of the other habits on this list. In short, this habit is brainwashing, and it’s the most effective way to get yourself to take the right actions.
Affirmations are a few powerful bullet points that you’ve written down that describe the person who you aim to be. I’ve gotten a little dramatic about it and call mine a manifesto, which I read it aloud at the start of every day, (most days).
Why do you need to be weird and read daily affirmations?
Nobody else is going to convince you that you’re awesome until you come to believe it yourself. This is not something that comes naturally to most, so you’ve got to repeat your affirmations over and over again until they become your reality. And then you’re going to need reminders.
This practice will:
• Help guide your actions. When you’re really clear about who you are, and what you stand for, decisions become far easier to make.
• Give you the confidence to be yourself.
• Attract the right people and the right opportunities. This one is kind of hard to believe until you experience it, and even then, you may be pinching yourself. Trust that it will happen, and it will be wonderful.
How reading daily affirmations will help your business to grow
If you’ve started your shop, or blog, or agency, you’re the boss. Very few business owners act like one. Our past experiences have conditioned us to await instructions and permission— two things that hold a lot of people back from making progress.
When you write your affirmations, you’re calling the shots: This is who I am. This is how things are going to be. And I’m capable of making it all happen.
When you read your affirmations, you’re cementing those commands and making them your truth. Whether or not they are actually valid doesn’t even matter. Your subconscious brain operates under whatever truth you tell it. If you’re constantly thinking, “I’m not good enough,” that’s what gets registered, and your actions will reflect those thoughts.
When you repeat your affirmations, you begin living the words that you’ve written down. It happens naturally, without effort, because you’ve begun to believe in yourself. It’s kind of magical.
Resources for practicing affirmations
• Pen and notebook. Write down what you want, in your handwriting.
• If you feel weird about reading them aloud, consider recording yourself (most smartphones come with this capability) and playing it back each day.
In my opinion, reading these daily truths for two minutes is far less painful than doing cardio for thirty, yet, there is still resistance. The reason why it’s so important to make this habit into a box you check off, is because you’re not going to hear other people talking about how they did it.
Open your Instagram feed and you’ll spot several sweaty selfies, but you’ll be hard pressed to find a post about how someone is feeling on fire because they just finished reading their affirmations. Unless you’re in an accountability group with other people who are practicing this habit, you’re on your own. It’s up to you to make this somewhat strange ritual into a normal part of your day.
How to implement these five habits
A tracking system is absolutely necessary for implementing any new habit. We all slip up. If you skip a day, just pick back up the next! Here are my favorite ways to keep your streak alive:
• A calendar and a pen. Jerry Seinfeld famously used this method to write comedy, daily, putting an “x” on each day of his calendar upon completion, working hard to not to “break the chain.”
• The aptly named, “Streaks” app. It helps me keep track of my habits soon a pretty nice looking interface.
• I’d also recommend further educating yourself on the benefits of habit building with these two books: The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg and Atomic Habits, by James Clear.
The first few weeks of adopting new habits are the most challenging, which is why accountability can be so powerful. You may not be able to keep yourself in check, but through the influence and encouragement and others, you’ll be inspired to keep with it.
Have you found success in implementing these or any other habits? Share your best tips in the comments, or by connecting with me on Instagram.
This post contains affiliate links.