Originally published on Inc Magazine’s Process Playbook column by Chris Ronzio
Could a quick run on the treadmill reset your mindset? If you feel like you’re running in place with your business, this could be the hack you need.
You’ve probably run on a treadmill before. Maybe you had a quick stint at the gym, maybe you’re an elite runner, or at minimum you’ve seen that awesome “OK GO!” music video and you understand the basics.
Well, running on a treadmill doesn’t just help you shave off a few pounds or hit your Fitbit score for the day — it helps condition your mind to hit your biggest business goals. Here’s how:
You learn to be clear about your goal.
Running on a treadmill isn’t like running outside — there’s no destination. So, you have to pick a duration, a distance, or perhaps a pace that you’ll sustain. You have to be clear about your goal from the beginning.
If you aren’t clear, then you’re just moving aimlessly. The same applies in business. If you don’t have a clear goal that you’re aiming for this week, this month, or this quarter, then you’ll never know if you’ve achieved it. So start with the end in mind.
You learn to distract yourself from the pain.
Any treadmills fleet at a gym is surrounded by TVs. In mine, there are scoreboards around the room with live feeds to heart monitors. There are people running by on the track. There is a Bluetooth connection where I can listen to the news, or I can settle into one of my favorite podcasts.
The abundance of distractions makes it easier to keep running no matter how heavily I’m sweating. When things are hard and I want to stop, I find something else to look at or listen to. I’ve started to do the same at work.
Whenever I’m working through a tough spreadsheet or designing a new presentation, I put the news on in the background or start a podcast on my computer. Then when I want to quit, I have something to look at for a minute rather than standing up and walking away from the project.
You learn to celebrate early but finish strong.
As I run more, I often look down and think, “how am I still on lap seven?” That’s because I celebrated hitting number seven as soon as it began, before I did any of the work to earn it.
We do the same thing in our businesses. As optimists, entrepreneurs count their chickens before they hatch. We celebrate closing a new client before they’ve paid. We celebrate a revenue milestone while it’s still a projection. It’s OK to celebrate early, as long as you earn that celebration and finish strong.
You learn to push back on self-negotiation.
Unlike running outdoors, where you could be miles from home when you decide to turn back, a treadmill exercise is easy to end. You just step off.
So, at some point you might start to negotiate with yourself about the initial goal that you set. “I planned to run one hour, but 45 minutes is enough.” “I was going to do 4 miles, but a 5k is only 3.16 miles so I’ll just stop there.” (Yes, I’ve used that second one.)
As you force yourself to hit your goal, you build discipline that carries over into the office. When you set business goals, you may think it’s OK to “shoot for the moon and land among the stars.” No. If you shoot for the moon, you need to hit the moon. Actually hitting your goals just takes discipline, so don’t negotiate.
You learn to review your metrics.
Treadmills are full of metrics. While you run, you see the lap you’re on, your heart rate, an estimated calorie burn count, the distance you’ve run and your current pace. After your run, you see a full breakdown of the exercise on screen.
You should have the same pulse on managing your business. Many entrepreneurs only look at their bank accounts and financial statements — that is like only looking at the screen at the end of your treadmill run. Instead, you need to watch key numbers constantly. For me, it’s our daily trial signups, trial conversions, and monthly recurring revenue. On a weekly basis, I use a scorecard to track everything from website traffic and ad spending to average costs of leads and trending lifetime customer value.
These numbers are like your pace when you run. If you notice soon enough, you can make changes that dramatically alter your end result.
Do you feel like you’re running in place with your business? Try actually running in place to get your mind in order. Then set some big goals, and push toward them every day.