I’m obsessed with the binary differences between mega successful entrepreneurs and the thousands of people struggling to succeed.
You should be obsessed with this too.
If you’re a business owner, you’re playing with some ludicrous odds.
The US Treasury puts out an annual report that shows roughly half of American adults aspire to the idea of starting their own business. Meanwhile the number of people who actually start their own company is a only single digit percentage.
Then, the number of people who achieve wealth or any real sense of freedom through their business… well, it’s a minuscule fraction of an already tiny fraction.
That is why the only question that matters, is this one:
What are the real winners – the mega successful entrepreneurs – doing that everyone else is not?
I get direct insight into this through my decade of experience as The Shrink for Entrepreneurs.
I’ve worked one on one with the type of clients who’ve built a net worth of tens of millions.
I’ve played therapist to people with lifestyle businesses that make folks green with envy.
I’ve supported someone whose taken an idea and dream… then raised startup capital, and achieved a hundred-million-dollar valuation for the business in less than three years.
And every year as we start counting down the days to the holidays, I get a handy reminder from my most successful clients that what we do in these final days of the year matters… extraordinarily so.
Without fail, the most successful entrepreneurs I know all perform a mindful, intentional planning ritual at year’s end.
Even wannabe entrepreneurs are aware that this is a good idea. Planning the next year is obvious. Yet so many people get it so catastrophically wrong.
There are four major mistakes that cause aspiring entrepreneurs to absolutely blow the opportunity that the New Year – and the holidays in general – offers:
Mistake #1: Thinking something is special about New Year’s Eve
Elite entrepreneurs know there is nothing special about January 1st… or any other day for the matter. It’s just another day spinning around the sun.
New Year’s isn’t special, but planning in year-long chunks is crucial.
Super high performing entrepreneurs all share the belief that a single calendar year is a potent chunk of time to reflect on, and plan for.
They know that people tend to vastly overestimate what they can get done in a week, while vastly underestimating what they can get done in a year.
That’s why the entrepreneurial elite believe the holidays are the best time to reflect on the year that’s been… and the year to come. January first isn’t a special magical day itself but you can make it one if you do it right.
Mistake #2: Thinking there is NOTHING special about New Year’s Eve
Aha! I almost had you. If mega-successful entrepreneurs know every calendar day is the same as the rest, why do they reserve their serious planning for the holidays?
The simple magic of New Year’s Eve – or the holidays in general – is that you’re not supposed to be working. It’s a time for rest, relaxation and taking time out. You’re finally free to step out of “execution mode” and into some sort of reflection mode.
The holidays are a symbolic end and beginning
There are thousands of years behind this idea. The cultural gravity around the New Year is strong.
If you’re smart, you’ll make this truth and the simple freedom to think clearly without getting bogged down by email – or whatever normally keeps you busy – work in your favor.
The date itself won’t make you magically turn over a new leaf. Your resolutions won’t be mystically blessed… but you can take advantage of the holidays just like the entrepreneurial elite!
Mistake #3: Not feeling the planning vibe
I first encountered goal setting as an exercise in school, when I was about twelve years old. Maybe it was New Zealand’s liberal education system, or maybe it was just my teacher who thought it was a great idea…
All I know is that a classroom of snotty nosed kids was asked to take a blank sheet of paper and produce their “goals” for the year.
I totally didn’t get it.
The exercise felt like a total waste of time. It was just something someone was making me do. I immediately tried to – like most of my school work – accomplish it as quickly and with as little effort as possible.
I totally missed the point. I never thought about the goals I had set, ever again. Total waste of time.
The scary truth is that MOST entrepreneurs approach goal setting this way. They just don’t always know it.
Everyone reads the articles (like this one) that tell them how important it is to reflect and plan.
All business owners know they should be doing this goal setting thing.
At some point throughout the holidays they vaguely open some blank notebook they got for free at a conference. They scribble down some ideas. They arbitrarily spit a few dreams onto a page.
The goals are there – but like my sheet of paper in school – the heart of it is missing. These are the entrepreneurs who take the shell of planning, but never find the nut.
These are the entrepreneurs who write in the first pages of dozens of beautiful blank notebooks – thinking THIS one will be the one they carry everywhere and actually use – only to end up never opening it for months.
These are the entrepreneurs who know they need to be doing something smarter with their planning, but never really get it.
Mistake #4: Getting WAY too into it
On the other end of the spectrum, we have the crazy planning and manifestation monsters.
These are the entrepreneurs who do so much OCD driven, color-coded planning and goal setting that they barely have time to actually work.
Or, they’re the people who spend so long doing complex visualization exercises – desperately trying to manifest success as though it’s a wish that can be granted – that they have no energy or desire left over for work.
There’s a major problem with these types of behavior and it has everything to do with our brain chemistry:
When you start making yourself feel AMAZING about planning and goal setting itself, you’re rewarding your brain for thinking instead of doing.
Some visualization exercises have been proven dangerous by neuroscientists. The exercises satiate your hunger for success by making you feel like you’ve won, prematurely. Instead of setting a goal that makes you hungry to act, your visualization makes you feel so good you become content to do nothing.
Likewise for complex planning systems, some of which have cult-like followings. If you’re giving yourself a dopamine boost because you feel victorious after squaring away all your ideas and to-dos into some complex system… you’re being robbed of the precious brain juice that’ll drive you to succeed.
Don’t underestimate how hard it is to do planning RIGHT
You’ll notice – like a lot of my work – that what I’m suggesting via this “What-not-to-do” guide is that you follow a middle path.
Don’t get caught up believing in the magic of the holidays.
Don’t write off this time of year though… because it’s crucial.
Don’t allow planning to be just another box you feel you need to check.
Don’t get so crazy and enthusiastic about it that you break your brain chemistry and sabotage your success.
We’ve talked about what NOT to do, and the “what to actually do” is coming. In a couple of days I’ll publish another article which will demystify this further.
Then – on December 21st – I’ll be making something extraordinary available to the public. A resource that fixes all of this and more, just in time for the holidays.
Stay tuned. Watch for emails from me.
In the meantime, let me know – via the comment section – which of these four mistakes YOU’VE been guilty of. We’ve all been there, so I’ll take the lead and be the first person to post a comment below…