- Have a daily to-do list with over 10 things on it?
- Feel bad at the end of the day if you haven’t “ticked” all the boxes on that list?
- Find yourself too busy to take good care of yourself?
- Rarely stop even for a moment to observe and appreciate where you are at?
All these symptoms are telling that you are likely a High Achiever, but that’s definitely not a bad thing.
Most entrepreneurs and start-up founders are very ambitious, and that’s usually what drives them to move forward in business fast. But when you are built this way, it can be rather difficult to take a moment and be mindful of your journey.
On episode #76 of Productivity Mastery Podcast, I welcomed Zane Bojāre to talk about the topic “Ambition vs. Mindfulness: Where is the Sweet Spot”.
Zane Bojāre, the Head of Marketing & Comms at Startup Wise Guys, is the main person behind a comprehensive Startup Scene report about the Baltic region and active Co-Creator at Riga TechGirls. Her experience of working with many start-ups, made her realize that most of the founders have something in common, and those are the above-mentioned symptoms of over-achieving. Reflecting on that, she shared her take and some practical advice on how to be achieving without being self-abusive.
1. Know yourself and understand your body
High achievers need to take especially good care of themselves and nurture their minds and bodies as they expend extra amounts of energy.
“If you don’t want to harm yourself, you need to understand yourself.”
Knowing yourself helps you understand why you feel the way you do. This includes understanding your own psychology as well as your body, such as daily rhythms and routines you naturally prefer. She’s fond of the Ayurvedic approach, which suggests that what you eat and how you treat your body has a great impact on how you function and feel.
Take your time to “scan your body” and analyze yourself, so that you can be more realistic (and kind) in terms of what to expect to achieve in a day, and over a longer period of time.
2. Mindfulness through habits
“Knowing yourself and adapting your life on a habit level to what you need is extremely important.”
Establishing mindful habits can be hard, as there are many activities you need to maintain daily. Zane mentioned a few ways you can help yourself with that:
- You can use the Habit Tracking Spreadsheet, so that you can easily track and follow your progress.
- Find buddies to keep you accountable. With her team, they are using a Slack channel called “Own Your Mind” where they remind each other to work on their habits. When we heard of this idea, we immediately tried it within our own team!
- And most importantly, observe your patterns to find which habits work the best for you. For some people it is “before sleep” meditation that’s most nourishing, for others it is “morning”, or mid-day. And it can change for the same person over time. Therefore it is important to tune in to yourself and find what works.
3. What to do when you are out of balance:
When things are not going according to the plan, high-achievers usually start to feel down and lost. But don’t worry, Zane has some practical advice on what to do when this happens:
- Pause and ask yourself why is this happening
With her Master’s Degree in Philosophy, it’s natural for Zane to often be asking the big question – “WHY”. Sometimes, what’s bothering you might be on a bodily level. Take your time, observe yourself, tune into your feelings, and you will find the reason behind it.
- Accept that you are just in a phase and that it will pass
You’re not in control of everything. Sometimes, bad things happen, or it is just a period that you cannot work on a specific type of task. It’s important to understand this and tell yourself: “I’m currently not in a place where I can do this, but this will pass.”. Don’t beat yourself up.
- Can I help myself?
Again, it comes to knowing yourself and what makes you feel good. You can make a list of all the things you are grateful for, or that generally make you happy. Sometimes, what you really need is to slow down and go for a walk, take a random mid-day shower or just eat your favourite ice cream.
It often speeds that plays against founders and therefore they are more prone to mental health issues and health challenges.
“When you fly with the plane, you don’t see the birds, you don’t see the flowers… and sometimes, you need to take a bicycle.”
Appreciate what you’ve already achieved, and now work on your peace. Once the low moments pass, you’ll be as right as rain and buzzing around.
It’s important to find the “sweet spot” between ambition and mindfulness, so that you can be achieving and still feel good about yourself.
Thanks to Zane Bojāre for this insightful episode! Go ahead and listen to it on your favorite podcast streaming platforms:
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Written by Ani Nedyalkova
Productivity Mastery is a podcast featuring some of the most inspiring and high-achieving leaders from around the world. Subscribe now and hear their unique take on performance, productivity lessons, and more.