hat do innovators, trailblazers, pioneers, and trendsetters have in common?
They also have the stamina and endurance to keep moving forward when things are complicated or hard, never letting up even when something bigger and better comes along.
Most importantly though, they’re self-made, meaning they believed in themselves before anyone else did and held onto that belief because they no longer wanted to live in possibility, but rather see their dream turn into reality.
This past year, we’ve seen a spike in freelancers and entrepreneurs creating their own jobs to make ends meet. According to The New York Times, America had a steady decline in start-ups pre-pandemic. However, there was a 24% increase last year compared to 2019, which is the biggest growth recorded from one year to another (Surge in Start-ups, The New York Times).
So, how do you become self-made?
There are plenty of books out there, both self-help and autobiographical, speaking on how one becomes accomplished in life. But the problem with that is like the old adage says, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink it.”
You can’t just want to be self-made, you have to be deliberate in your actions.
There are so many decisions to make in a day and even more if you’re leading the charge, but decisions can be less of a nuisance when you have routine.
An article by Northwestern Medicine states the benefits of routine are better stress levels, better sleep, better health, and setting a good example for those around you. It’s also easier to make decisions when you’re in a routine because ideally you’re rested without impaired judgement and in general you use less brain power.
For example, if you know that every morning is going to consist of 7:30 a.m. wake-up time, smoothie, workout, and walking your dog — you’ll have to make fewer decisions in that timeframe because you’re preoccupied. These things have already been decided before the day arrives and essentially puts you on auto-pilot.
We all know the longer you do something the better and faster you get. Therefore, routine naturally supports an increase in your productivity. It also minimizes distractions because you’ll remember your routine and know exactly just how much time you’ll have to socialize, go to the doctor, or run to the store.
Some tools to help you stay in routine are paper or digital planners, a calendar and checklist.
Being self-made is also being deliberate in not getting discouraged easily. People like Oprah and Steve Jobs rejected the naysayers and did so on a regular basis by moving forward. Don’t waste your time trying to explain your vision to someone who doesn’t intend to help you advance.
Neil Degrasse Tyson tells this story of a guy who approached him, not believing that man landed on the moon. Neil asked what would get him to believe and the guy told him photographic evidence so Neil told him to visit NASA’s website. The next time they spoke, the guy said he saw the photos and still didn’t believe America landed on the moon. From there Neil knew the guy had his mind made up and wouldn’t believe no matter what Neil told him, so Neil moved on.
Move quietly with your plans and goals, too. It will help you stay focused because you won’t be filling someone else's expectations. Make declarations to yourself and not to the public until it's done. And we can’t stress this enough, STICK TO THE PLAN as Big Sean so eloquently said in his song “Voices In My Head/ Stick to the Plan”.
And like Nike says, “Just Do It” and surprise the hell out of yourself when you start tallying all the things you’ve accomplished. Remember deliberate actions.
Finally, stay in the right mindset with meditation or moments of uninterrupted quiet for clarity, focus, and peace.
Take time off to celebrate your wins and progress. Get enough sleep to refresh your day and thoughts. Your brain is a muscle and obviously does a lot, so give it a chance to rest.
But also, exercise your brain with reading and puzzles to pull yourself out of the norm here and there as to remain innovative. Puzzles have been proven to improve short-term memory and problem solving, which is needed when life gets a little busier with stakeholder meetings and press releases.
Eat foods that help you stay on top of your game. Eating right isn’t just for physical benefit as it helps your mental sharpness and literally nurtures brain health depending on the food.
We’re all destined to make our own paths, but where we end up is entirely up to us. Create a routine for yourself and ask, what is it I would like to accomplish daily/weekly and add that to your routine.
There are always naysayers but there are also people who believe in you. But most importantly believe in yourself. Don’t waste your time seeking approval from people who have already written you off.
Get into the right mindset to become more productive and minimize distractions. Resting, exercising, and eating right will help your brain stay focused, clear, and at peace.
Remember you make yourself by how you choose to move in this world!
Add to the conversation!
- What other tools support your routine?
- How do you deal with naysayers?
- What are some foods that help with your mental sharpness?