When entrepreneurs think of “self-care,” we often think of indulging in a long walk, a vigorous run along some trails, a massage, an afternoon nap, a fictional read, or a long weekend. We would not add “carving out time for strategic thinking” to that list.
Strategic thinking, a cognitive process of clarifying your business objectives, goals, and plans, is often viewed as a task worthy of our undivided, focused attention. It’s time to concentrate intensely on planning and problem-solving using every brain cell available. Self-care? Hardly!
The Self-Care Myth
Most of us conflate “self-care” with “work-life balance.” We often place our attention and effort in the work-life balance bucket in search of a drumbeat of work and rest that keeps us sharp, focused, and innovative — only to stumble repeatedly.
And it’s not just me. The entrepreneurs with whom I strategize share the same angst.
Attempts to achieve self-care through a balanced life feel a bit like a mirage. There are continual roles to juggle, projects to implement, and deadlines to meet. That’s how business functions in today’s fast-paced competitive marketplace. Being overwhelmed by all the responsibilities of growing a business almost feels natural.
Unfortunately, self-care is usually the last item to be addressed — unless we’re “forced” to slow down, take a break, and take it easy. But never fear! There is a way to make self-care more of a priority without losing your sanity.
It turns out that strategic thinking is the ideal form of self-care for overwhelmed entrepreneurs.
21st Century Self-Care is Powerful
Honestly, self-care has gotten a bit of a bad reputation.
Yet, a continual diet of stress and overwhelm that often accompanies business growth forces our bodies into overdrive. We produce high levels of cortisol. Adrenaline increases our heart rate, elevates our blood pressure, and uses more energy than normal because of the perceived or real threat. The result? Even greater levels of stress and overwhelm — only this time, our bodies are less equipped to fight back. Eventually, burnout sets in.
But you already knew that, right?
Rather than succumb to the unseemly impact of persistent pressure, why not reignite possibilities by taking time to think strategically about the future of your business?
Open Your Mind and Say, “Ahhh”
You may think you’re too distracted or stressed to take the time to think strategically — especially if you’re caught in the Messy Middle. Yet, the gains of doing so far outweigh the many perceived disadvantages.
Strategic thinkers, often characterized as having high levels of creativity, adaptability, problem-solving skills, and decision-making abilities — all important traits for any successful entrepreneur — require time to see things differently. It’s mandatory for success.
When the frantic speed begins to slow, our minds open to creative possibilities. We create space to listen to ourselves — an often-ignored quality. Strategic thinking pulls us out of the vortex of crisis thinking and encourages objectivity.
It emboldens us to look at problems from different angles and to come up with imaginative solutions not previously considered to address stubborn problems.
But it goes beyond finding solutions to problems; strategic thinking helps identify opportunities and create strategies that lead to growth. You make better decisions about where to invest your time and money to achieve the best possible outcome for your business. It empowers you to avoid costly mistakes, maximize profits, and stay ahead of your competitors in an ever-changing market.
Finally, as a strategic thinker, you are better equipped to ensure that everyone involved in a project understands the vision and objectives for each task or project. It fosters collaboration and allows your team to work together towards common goals more effectively.
In addition to gaining clarity, strategic thinking enhances well-being and quality of life. Energy levels increase since you’re not expending unnecessary vitality in catastrophizing. It improves your ability to do quality work and boosts your willingness to persist when business gets tough.
Think Smarter, Not Harder
The first step in utilizing strategic thinking as self-care is to figure out what “strategic thinking” means — and looks like — for you.
Strategic thinking involves understanding the bigger picture of your life and work and figuring out how to move forward with those goals. It focuses your energy on the most important tasks, or as one of my clients calls them, “high-impact, high-value tasks,” while minimizing distractions from less important ones. It allows you to prioritize your goals so you can focus on the ones that will influence your business growth the most.
More importantly, it recharges your soul.
We would love to help you think and grow more strategically. We’ll even share our “famous” planning process with you. Click here to schedule a time to explore the possibilities.