At 2016’s Coast-to-Coast event, business owners shared their struggle to find balance between their personal and professional lives. So we asked Lauren Taus, one of New York’s top life coaches and yoga instructors, to offer some advice on mindfulness. She’s a small business owner too, after all, so who would know better than she does?
By: Lauren Taus
I see you. You’re busy, running around to make good shit happen. You support yourself, your business, and your staff. You still find time to exercise and eat well. You’re dressed like the boss that you are, but sometimes feel like you’re running on fumes. I’m here to tell you that you can have your cake and eat it too. You can find balance as a small business owner.
I know I’m not the first to tell you that mindfulness is important, but I can’t stress how important it really is. Let me give you some easy ways to be more mindful and run a successful small business:
1. Expect imperfection.
Most of us successful business types are not interested in playing the game if we can’t be the best. You have to let that idea go. Now. You will never master mindfulness. Accept this fact and you’ve already made a mountain of progress. You’ll have periods where you turn your back on your mindfulness practices, and that’s OK! Everyone does. Just climb back on the wagon as soon as you can — and don’t beat yourself up for the fall.
2. Practice Pausing.
Personally, I’m a big advocate of a mindful morning. Take a few minutes to just breathe on purpose. To start, try setting a 3-minute timer and inhaling through your nose and exhaling from your mouth. For each breath, breath in for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 7 seconds, and exhale for 8 seconds. Do that for 3 minutes and over time you can build up from there. Longer, fuller breath cycles stimulate the relaxation response, which means you can physically set yourself up for more peace. Score! Let the idea of a pause permeate the rest of your day.
Pausing does not have to center on breath. An easy way to get mindful is to savor the world around you by using your senses! Again, start small and work your way up. For example, in the morning, you might take a moment to appreciate the heat of your coffee cup in your hands and the way that your coffee tastes/feels as you drink it. Instead of reading emails or the news while having breakfast, just have breakfast and appreciate your meal. Teach yourself to find and appreciate the small things.
4. Make and keep appointments with yourself.
This is a hard one because everything feels connected to you: your meetings, your budget, your family, your friends. In this case, though, I’m talking about YOU. Commit to spend time with yourself weekly. This might be one of the hardest things for you to do. An appointment with you can look a million different ways. Here are some ideas: Stay home and cook yourself something incredible. Take a long walk. Book a massage. Maybe it’s as simple as an early night to read a trashy novel or organize a part of your home. Intention matters here. Do the things that prioritize you. Do more of that. Every week.
5. Prioritize. Each day or week, make a list of the things that really matters.
(Include mindfulness!). Note what really needs your attention. Tackle that list so that you have time to come up for air and pause to savor more.
Keep coming back to #1. So many of my clients and students stop or don’t try because they can’t get into a consistent groove. You don’t have to be perfect or regular to reap major benefits from these practices. Let yourself be delightfully human. Let yourself fumble. Just keep coming back for that next big inhale. Keep coming back for that next beautiful pause because, yes, lots of us set resolutions at the start of the year, and these are great, but every moment allows us to reset if we choose. So, choose.
About the Author
Lauren is a writer, a life coach, and a yoga instructor. Lauren helps her clients develop the skills they need to make health and happiness easy in a complex world. She regularly teaches at some of New York’s most elite studios, including Soho House, Equinox, and Pure Yoga. Lauren leads global retreats and workshops.
Before building a career in wellness, Lauren worked as a hedge fund executive, and she maintains a soft spot for corporate clients. Lauren teaches in many corporate offices and leads one-off wellness events in both multinational organizations and city start-ups. She graduated with honors from Choate Rosemary Hall and Columbia University, and earned her MSW from NYU.