Solve problems, be obsessive, and learn to manage yourself
Two years ago, I quit my secure full-time job to start my own company. I ventured into the risky waters of financial insecurity with a small boat made of unpolished ideas and leaking self-confidence. I should have expected the storms that came my way, but somehow I thought it was gonna be a smooth ride — after all, I had worked for a couple of startup companies before and learned firsthand what it means to start a business.
Well, turns out being a startup employee (even one of the first ones, even one with equity, even the one the CEO shares all his fears and secrets with) doesn’t fully prepare you for taking the leap yourself.
Here are the lessons I learned in my first year of business. I learned all of them the hard way. And it was very painful. I know that reading this won’t be sufficient for you to learn these lessons as well — but maybe it prepares you better just a tiny bit!
1. Know What Success Means to You
Define success on your own terms, achieve it by your own rules, and build a life you’re proud to live.
– Anne Sweeney
Nobody else can tell you how to live your life.
Because they don’t know.
They don’t know what makes you truly happy.
Only you know.
Discover your authentic self. Find your true north.
Go where you feel most alive.
And do what sets your soul on fire.
This will be the basis for success on your own terms.
2. Obsessively Focus on Your Goals
Where focus goes, energy flows.
— Tony Robbins
Get clear about what you want. Your dreams. Your goals. Your priorities.
Make a plan to get there. Plan every week according to your priorities. Spend every day working on your goals.
Make your priorities the basis for your decisions. Say “Hell Yes” to the things aligned with your values, mission, and goals. Politely decline everything else.
Success requires sacrifice. You can have anything you want, but not everything.
Success requires single-minded focus. Of your body. Your mind. Your money. Your time.
Don’t get distracted by shiny objects, average opportunities and what other people think you should do.
Know what you want and direct all your energy to it.
3. Take Care of Your Mind and Body
What I’ve learned about self-care: if you don’t make it a part of your life and practice, you will be forced to.
— Taryn Toomey
Your body and mind are the instruments of your mission.
Treat them well and you will do great things.
Sell them out for ephemeral pleasures and you will pay the price.
Nourish your body with fresh, healthy, and unprocessed foods.
Sleep eight hours. Every night.
Move your body. Even if it’s just for 30 minutes.
Your ability to produce great work depends on it.
Sit in stillness every day. Observe your thoughts or write them down.
Reflect on what you are doing. Evaluate if it is working. Assess if it makes you happy.
Take time off. Let your brain process. Come back with a fresh perspective.
Because the clarity of your thinking directly impacts the quality of your decisions. Which ultimately impacts the quality of your life.
4. Learn to Manage Yourself
Manage yourself first and the rest will follow.”
— Liz Huber
Learn how to manage your time. Plan your day with intention. Treat your time like your most valuable treasure. Because it is.
Learn how to manage your energy. Find out what gives you energy. Identify what sucks it out of you. Make wise choices.
Learn how to manage your work. Prioritize your most important work. Even if it is the most challenging — and it makes you uncomfortable. Identify and eliminate busy work and time wasters. Focus on what brings you closer to your goals. Focus on what makes other tasks faster, easier or obsolete. Work smart, not hard.
Learn how to manage your mind. Quiet your monkey mind. Train your brain to make better decisions. Identify and transform your limiting beliefs. Design powerful habit loops aligned with your priorities and goals.
5. Go Out of Your Comfort Zone
Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear.
— George Addair
Dream so big your dreams scare you.
Only then are they big enough.
And then go after your dreams.
Even if it is hard.
Even if it is scary.
Even if other people tell you it can’t be done.
Anything worth doing is hard. And scary.
But you need to find a way to push through your fear and step out of your comfort zone every day.
Because this is where the magic happens.
And where you will grow beyond anything you could have ever imagined.
6. Build Powerful Habits
We become what we repeatedly do.
– Sean Covey
We are a reflection of the things we do every day, every week, and every year.
How happy, fit, and successful we are is a direct result of our habits.
Take inventory of your habits. Keep the good ones. Kick the bad ones. Add some more good ones.
Accelerate your success by connecting your goals to daily habits.
Identify cornerstone habits. And stack more habits on top.
Master your daily schedule and you will master your life.
7. Master Your Mindset
Your life is only as good as your mindset.
Mindset is everything.
It affects how you think. How you feel. How you decide. How you act.
With the right mindset, anything is possible.
Identify where your mindset doesn’t match your aspirations.
Spend time with people that are where you want to be. Learn how they think.
Read Books. Non-Fiction. It will teach you the mindset of the great thinkers.
Investing in your mindset is an investment in yourself. And your success.
8. Be Grateful for What You Have
Remember the days you prayed for the things you have now.
Start your day with gratitude. Be grateful for another day on this earth.
End your day with gratitude. Count your blessings before you go to sleep.
Don’t delay living your life. Don’t delay your happiness.
Because if you do, you will never be satisfied.
There is no destination in life.
Focus on the journey. Live in the moment.
Choose to be happy right here, right now — as the person you are.
Because the only thing you’ll ever have is the present moment.
9. Focus on Solving Problems, Not Making Money
Success isn’t about how much money you make; it’s about the difference you make in people’s lives.
— Michelle Obama
Find a niche.
Know your customer.
Ask them what they want.
Create a solution for them.
Improve your product based on customer feedback.
Build what the world needs.
And the money will come.
But get really good at marketing too.
Because just because you build it, they won’t come.
Selling is half the equation.
Building what people want is the other half.
You need to master both.
10. Be Kind.
You can accomplish by kindness what you cannot by force.
— Publilius Syrus
Be radical about how you spend your time.
Obsessively focus on your goals.
But never be rude.
For you’ll never know the battle someone is facing.
Focus on giving instead of receiving.
And it will come back to you 1000x.
Look for like-minded souls.
Build your tribe.
Because nobody can do it alone.
And together we can achieve more than we ever thought possible.
Liz Huber is a Mindset & Productivity Coach and Founder of refinedlife.io. With her books, courses, and 1-on-1 work, she helps entrepreneurs overcome overwhelm, lack of focus, fear, and self-doubt. As a result, her clients are able to confidently achieve their goals by prioritizing what is truly important and streamlining everything else.