This is a guest post by our friend Mike Marani.
With the new year upon us, like every year, it seems like everybody and their brother makes some sort of physical health resolution. Stop eating sweets. Lose 10 pounds. Exercise 5 days a week. All of these are fine and reasonable, but what about our mental fitness? When you challenge your brain on a regular basis, it has a positive impact on the way you do business. Just as you strengthen your body by going to the gym, there are ways to exercise your brain. By following a few different mental fitness exercises, you can change the perspective in which you look at your business and improve your self-discipline along the way. The difference can be huge, and you will likely wonder why you didn’t start regularly exercising your mind years ago.
Exercise #1: Meditate
There I said it. I know what your thinking. Everybody suggests meditating. But quite honestly, that should be encouraging. Be open to the possibility that regular meditative-like focus can pay dividends. If you’re interested in learning more and you have no idea where to begin, I recommend you start with calm.com. It offers a guided meditation option along with a customized time frame that are perfect for beginners and people strapped for time.
Lastly, the simple act of refocusing your mind to attempt thoughtlessness is not advised. While we aren’t ones to encourage you to set your mind on nothing, a meditative-like focus can still be tremendously valuable.
Exercise #2: Play a Memory Game
This can be on your computer, an app on your phone, or just memorizing patterns that are around the office. It’s going to train your brain to commit more things to memory. It’s also going to add to neural plasticity so that your brain can adapt to new tasks and challenges fluently. It’s what will allow you to roll with the punches, so to speak. Plus, when it allows you to recount statistics to a client, it can help to set you apart from the rest.
Secondly, enjoy crosswords and Sudoku. When you see a newspaper, pick it up and go right to the mental puzzles. Keep working the puzzles until you can figure them out, even if it takes you a couple minutes a day for a month. Along the way, in addition to persistence training, you’ll improve your IQ and develop better problem-solving skills. It can be just what you need to keep your mind sharp.
Exercise #3: Try the 30 Day Persistence Challenge
This is very simple and will help you improve your ability to commit to long-term goals. Pick a very easy, manageable action and complete it for 30 days in a row. If you miss a day, reduce the action and start over. Do not stop until you can take the same action every day for 30 consecutive days. The action itself is almost irrelevant. What is most important is that you stick to it for the entire 30 day duration. Pick something simple, like a push up, one minute of meditation, or a glass of water each morning after you wake up and do it every day for 30 days. To maximize the value of this exercise, slowly increase the level of difficulty after each successful 30 day period.
Exercise #4: Attend Social Events
You may not think this would be a form of mental exercise, but it absolutely is. Think about what you’re going to do when you socialize with people. You’re going to talk to people about what you do, what your business is about, and start to interact. People are going to tell you what they do and some important connections can be formed.
Pay attention to what the other person is saying, and learn to be an active listener and you will start to prioritize when it is important to talk and when it is important to listen. Talk to everyone and get out of your comfort zone. Over time, it will be easier to talk to anyone, whether they are co-workers, clients, new contacts, and even strangers.
Exercise #5: Play
Decorate your desk with toys and puzzles. An enriched environment is going to boost your neural activities. Whether you put a Rubik’s cube on your desk or you have a Zen sand garden, it’s going to strengthen your mental fitness. Taking time out of your day to play is a much-needed mental exercise because it’s also going to help you de-stress, which can lower your blood pressure and ensure that you’re able to communicate more effectively with everyone around you.
Bonus exercise: Physical Exercises
You may not want to hear it, but the reality is that physical exercises are going to have a positive impact on your life. They can increase alertness, boost your energy levels, and help you increase productivity. Think about the benefits if you are able to get your job done faster. It can allow you to have more time to yourself.
You can choose how often you do all of the exercises, though the more consistently you practice them, the more you will benefit. The important thing is to make sure that your brain is being exercised on a regular basis so that you are able to tackle all of the different projects that get pushed across your desk throughout the work week. It’s time to think about your resolutions for the New Year. Mental fitness exercises can make all the difference in the world to help you become a more successful entrepreneur. The sharper your mind, the easier it will be to make effective business decisions and be more productive in the office and in the other areas of your life.