by Laura Garnett
We live in a society that dreads Mondays. For those in dead-end jobs and feeling a complete lack of engagement, well, Monday mornings can be a sad reminder that you aren’t maximizing your potential at work. Entrepreneurs chose to do something different—and therefore have more freedom when it comes to creating the kind of work experiences that will keep them engaged and fulfilled. And making a habit of pausing and checking in on their performance every Monday can be an invaluable tool that helps them improve.
Problem is, despite the freedom that comes with running your own business, many entrepreneurs experience the opposite. They are tired, overworked, and stretched thin from wearing many hats and doing what needs to be done to make payroll or generate revenue to keep the business afloat. The absence of a manager, or the structure of forced “360” reviews in a large company, means that for some growing businesses, those moments of reflection on performance and work experience are infrequent—and potentially not happening at all. For a super busy entrepreneur, adding something else to the to-do list may sound exhausting, but what is lost in nottaking time to focus on your performance?
For starters, the quality of your thinking and output could be at risk, especially if you are stressed and creating a threatening mindset for yourself. The book Top Dog: The Science of Winning and Losing discusses a study done with Princeton undergrads: “The researchers presented the students with a test of GRE questions. For half the students, the questions were presented in a threat context—they were a test of the students’ ability, a judgment on whether they truly belonged at Princeton. The other students got the same questions, but in a challenge context. That test was titled ‘Intellectual Challenge Questionnaire,’ and the questions were construed as brainteasers. Nobody was expected to solve them all. In the threat context, the Princeton undergrads got 72% correct. In the challenge context, they got 90% correct.”
The conclusion? A threat situation negatively impacts your performance. It’s easy to go from challenge to threat when you are busy and trying to meet your revenue goals.
With that in mind, here are five questions you can begin your week with, to help you slow down, take stock of what you’re doing, and ensure that you are bringing all you’ve got to your weekly tasks. Not only will they help get you into a challenge mindset, but you can also double-check that you are focusing your efforts on work that is invigorating and energizing.
1. Am I excited to dive into the challenges that I have lined up for the week?
2. Am I looking forward to engaging with the people I am meeting or working with?
3. Am I going to my dream job?
4. Am I being compensated fairly for the value I bring to my job?
5. Do I feel energized, rested, and confident?
If the answer to more than three of these questions is “no” on a consistent basis, then it’s a sign that you’re spending your time in ways that may not be serving you. While this may not be a problem in the short term, over time you will see that your energy wanes and your enthusiasm for work becomes nonexistent.
I want to live in a world where everyone is engaged, challenged, and spending their time doing work that serves not only the marketplace and the world—but also themselves. Do you?