This month, I feel like I’ve been surrounded by entrepreneurship. I presented the award for the category of the same name at the YWCA Women of Distinction awards, I attended the annual Garden Party for the Forum for Women Entrepreneurs (F.W.E.) and I organized and kicked off the first Young Entrepreneur series at CKNW. So it got me to thinking. What is an entrepreneur? Do they have to be a business owner? And how could I use some of the techniques of these rogue business leaders to take my own leaps of faith, be it personal or career related? It lead me to compile a list of simple tips that aim to open us up to viewing the world in a slightly different way in order to see new opportunities and solutions that we may otherwise miss entirely.
- Change Up Your Environment:
Do you ever get that rush of creative energy when you move into a new place as you look around at this blank canvas, ripe for you to mould into your own personal space? If you're feeling less than inspired by your work environment, you can recreate this experience in a few different ways.
- Allot at least 30mins once a month to tidy your desk, free up and throw out any piles of paperwork, and even look into purchasing some out of the ordinary desk accessories (pretty files, inspiring desk calendars) to help refresh your space and your energy. This article posted recently by Marie Claire is a great example of the power of this simple change.
- Take it one step further and re-arrange the furniture in your office. This can change the whole feel of an office and subconsciously alter your thinking patterns as you view things literally from a different angle.
- Get out of the office at least once each day, even if it just popping down to grab a coffee. Freeing your mind from the perceived constraints of the office environment can be just the break you need to allow that great idea to break through!
- Try Something New:
New experiences force our minds to practice problem solving techniques and it doesn’t even have to be a big experience. Never been on the sea bus? Take a trip to the other side for a few hours and experience entering the city from a new angle. Always wanted to try a new hobby like painting or learning an instrument? Sign up for a class. The fact that you are consciously deciding to be open to the experience trains your mind to also be open to new ideas and solutions.
- Take To Strangers:
It’s amazing what you can learn from talking to people. Who would have known that the rough looking man getting a coffee beside you in shorts and a t-shirt owns a successful tech start up? Or that the woman serving you is working on her MBA and has some interesting opinions on the real estate industry? The point is, we so often judge people on their outer appearance but some of the most interesting conversations I have had have been with those I would least expect to. Every person you meet has something to teach you, so get learning!
- Allow Yourself ‘Time Outs’ At Work:
Ok, so don’t tell your boss about this one, but it can be quite productive to go internet shopping during work hours… Yes, you did read that right. I tend to follow my instincts as much as I can and at first I thought my instinct to want to browse internet stores while at work was simply due to a desire to procrastinate. Then I realized that this urge actually coincided with feeling overwhelmed by the tasks I needed to complete, and that this short mental break of mind numbing window shopping actually was similar to clicking the refresh button on websites. It allowed my mind to stop focusing on the never ending ‘to do’ list and sort those tasks into priorities. Often, after just 5 mins or so, I found I knew exactly what I needed to do, and could happily move on to getting things done. So, I repeat, whatever urge you have when you feel like you are drowning in your own ‘to do’ list, follow it, because your mind is trying to tell you it needs a break. Listen to it.
- Make an effort to be more optimistic:
In the words of the Dalai Lama, “Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.” Yes, the world can be a crappy place. Yes, we all have bad days, sometimes bad months, but would you rather dwell on that or smile about all the happy things that balance that negativity? Let me ask you this, would you rather spend time with a miserable person or a happy one? Which one do you want be?
It sounds easy, and yes, it can be tough. There have been times when I've felt like my world was caving in and there was no hope, but I made the choice to stop myself, give myself a stern talking to (something along the lines of, ‘think of all the great people you have in your life, the beauty in a quiet sunny morning dog walk, that trip you just went on to Europe!’) and forced myself to continue to focus on these things. I’ll even create a mantra to get me through like, ‘the perfect solution is just around the corner’. And you know what? It amazed even me, how quickly things changed. A recent example I was trying to find a new roommate, a search that was going horribly. I was worried I was going to be forced to live with some weirdo when I started focusing on this mantra, and the very next day, found a perfect little place of my own! No more roommates needed at all! So if you are reading this and have some doubts, I ask you to try it yourself, commit 100% to envisioning a happy life for yourself and if it doesn't work, you really haven’t lost anything.
So whether you want to own or start your own business, or just get yourself out of a career or personal rut, these tips will help open you up to the opportunities and solutions to help you reach those goals. After all, a true entrepreneur simply has the ability to see a gap where most see a wall. Remember, we are all responsible for our own lives through the choices we make, so don’t be afraid to make choices that scare you, they can often lead to the greatest successes!