Is tossing and turning at night just a given when you are an entrepreneur? Business owners often say that they only sleep a few hours a night. Sometimes it’s a bolt of inspiration at 2 am. Sometimes (most times?) it’s worry and stress that messes up a good night’s sleep. I used to wake up wondering how I was going to cover payroll, or what I should do about an employee or customer upset. I would lie in bed, heart pounding, winding myself up about all kinds of horrible scenarios. There was nothing to do about any of it until morning, so I would just stew in it.
Then, the sun would rise. You know, everything is better, clearer, easier in the light of day. And, everything is scarier in the dark.
Lesson learned: Go back to sleep.
Over the years, I have trained myself to sleep through the night. Here are 5 things you can do to sleep better.
- Operate from a KFP – Known Financial Position. Commit to current and accurate financial reports. Adopt the standard of having the Balance Sheet and Profit & Loss up to date once a week. You can also check your current assets to current liabilities on a daily basis. Even if the news is bad, you can craft a plan for making it better, while the sun is shining. You can choose which bills to pay and which can wait. It’s so much easier to sleep when you know what you have for assets, owe in liabilities and own in equity.
- Skip the sleep aids. Sleep expert Robin Palmer says, “Sleep is the new sex,” in that sleeping aids are now the #1 prescription drug, replacing sexual performance drugs. However, drugs – including alcohol – may knock you out but they don’t create restful, REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep. And even if they are not physically addictive, you can easily develop an emotional dependence. Robin has developed terrific drug-free bedtime routines, including My Good Night Messages ™ recordings. http://mywakeupcalls.net/good-night/
- Learn to meditate. A few years ago, I participated in a meditation class offered online. I had been flirting with meditation for years, however I didn’t apply the discipline required to make it a habit. In the class, I learned simple techniques to clear my mind and get into the present moment. Worry and stress are always connected to the past (Shoulda, coulda, woulda!) or the future (What will? What if?) I practiced in a guided mediation with the rest of the students every day for a couple of months. Now, I aim to meditate once or twice a day. And, at night, I use the techniques to stop runaway thinking. In the present moment, you can relax and let go…and if you like, drift off to sleep.
- Do the right thing. Have you ever lain awake second guessing a decision? As an entrepreneur, you are not always going to know the right course of action. A leader decides, and sometimes you make good decisions. Other times, not so much. Most poor decisions can be mitigated by the next decision. Don’t try to be perfect. Clarify intention. Choose a course of action. Measure results…and repeat. As you make decisions, check in with your heart as well as the statistics. If a move feels bad, don’t make it. In my latest TV obsession, House of Cards, several of the characters start unraveling as they knowingly cross the line. If you know, don’t go. It will help you sleep at night.
- Golf. The exercise is good for you and a solid workout encourages a great night’s sleep. Even better, sports teach life and business lessons. My friend, contractor Mike Cobb – Sudden Service Heating, AC, Plumbing and Electrical Company in Euless, Texas – started golf a few years ago. He isn’t a natural athlete, and he has worked to whittle his handicap down to a 20. He studies the game, and commits to playing at least once a week.
On December 26th, he and his regular foursome were backed up on the 17th hole, a par three, with two other golfers. Mike said, “Surely one of us is going to make a hole in one.” Then, Mike teed up, and swung. “My clubface hit the ball so perfectly that I could barely feel the impact. Pure sweet spot contact.” He confirmed it when he and his buddies made that oh-so-long walk across the green to the hole. “As I peered down into the cup….there was my ball in the bottom of the cup resting next to the flag stick. I jumped straight up and let out a loud whistle. It was a priceless moment in my life. It was so thrilling. I wished the feeling would never end. If you relentlessly try very hard and never give up, greatness will come and most likely when you least expect it.” Talk about being in the now.
I asked Mike how he slept that night. He said, “Like a baby.”
When there is clarity of intention, and swift aligned action, things can come together in a heartbeat. If we don’t fuss about it, we can allow good outcomes. So often, in the middle of the night, we come up with all kinds of reasons why things won’t work or are going to be so hard. So pick up a sport, like golf. Or basketball. Or train for a triathlon. The purity and power of sport will enhance your life, and your sleep.
If you are awakened with a flash of insight, a message from God, or a brilliant business idea, by all means, get up and write it down.
Otherwise, go back to sleep.
One more thing! Robin Palmer is one of my guest experts at Business Makeover 2014. She shares a fantastic pre-sleep routine and takes us through an uber-relaxing meditation. Check out the event line up at www.BusinessMakeover2014.com