You don’t have to be a Harvard business grad to have a successful career as an entrepreneur. Similarly, you don’t have to be an intense CrossFitter to get in shape, but there are plenty of ways in which having a strong body and mind will benefit you in both life and business.
We often underestimate how strong we are in both our body and our mind. Many of us lack the confidence to put ourselves to the test. But to achieve our goals, we need to push ourselves, trust our instincts and be disciplined in going after what we want. To make big gains, start by taking a detour to the gym.
Here are the five insights you will gain if you become as committed to the gym as you are to your business.
1. You are tougher than you think.
It takes a great deal of work to transform your body or your business. When you put in the hard work at the gym, it improves your energy and stamina, and helps you stay focused. But more than that, getting a good sweat on can actually make you more resilient to stress.
Exercise reorganizes the brain so that it doesn’t allow stress and anxiety to interfere as much with brain function. In essence, exercise can make both your body and your mind stronger and more flexible. The harder you push yourself, the more you realize that you are stronger and tougher than you think. If you dig deep, you can go farther and faster than you thought possible.
We all know that resilience is a cornerstone to building a successful business. Being able to bounce back from a difficult situation is key to being able to move forward and eventually flourish. An entrepreneur must stay levelheaded during the lean times, as well as when business is bountiful.
What better way to teach yourself to be nimble and juggle priorities than to train your body to be resilient in the gym? Along the way, you’ll build confidence, and gain adaptability and flexibility.
Related: This Entrepreneur Lives in the Back Room at a Gym While Building His Business
2. It’s all about mindset.
Any given year around January 1, if you ask people what their New Year’s resolution is, many will say they want to get in shape or lose weight or be healthier. But how many people actually accomplish this goal?
Many fall short because they don’t get themselves into the right frame of mind to accomplish their goal. They don’t follow through, set realistic expectations or commit to healthy habits to make it happen. They fail to develop the right mindset.
They will probably keep setting the same goal — and keep failing — year after year, unless they do something to shake things up and change their habits. If you want to succeed, you have to believe you can. Then you have set about making real changes to put you on the right path. Finally, you need to keep going for the long haul.
The same thing is true for an entrepreneur who wants to build a successful business. Often there isn’t a huge difference between one entrepreneur and another. Their mindset and determination are what set them apart. If you want to create a successful business, you have to stop letting fear or lack of confidence hold you back. You have to have purpose and a vision to succeed.
3. More is possible with a strong core.
When you work out, you’ve got to do more than just exercise your arms and legs. To truly get in shape, you’ve got to build your core muscles. Without a solid core to support you, you’ll end up with a lot of physical ailments and injuries, and unable to accomplish your workout regime.
The same thing goes for business. You’ve got to build the core of your business. Why are you doing this? Who are your customers? What makes you stand out? You need to decide what your business is focused on and then make sure you keep that focus, even as you build other elements.
Having a strong foundation will allow you to expand and contract as needed with market fluctuations. If you fail to build your core, you will flop.
Related: 5 Elements That Shape the Core of a Strong Startup
4. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
You can’t just show up on day one and expect to kill it. It doesn’t work like that, either in business or at the gym. Your strength and endurance can only be built slowly.
If you push yourself too far, too fast, you may hit burnout before you reach your goal. What matters is being persistent, showing up day in and day out. Sometimes the biggest accomplishment is being able to put one foot in front of the other and keep moving toward your goal.
You have to know when to press forward, when to work on gaining strength, when to throttle back and when to give it your all. Any transformation you go through will be painful. But if you want to accomplish your goals, you’ve got to push through the pain.
It’s easy to do nothing: to sit on the couch and accept being average. But if you want to be a successful entrepreneur, you’ve got to be in it for the long haul. The same thing goes for the gym.
Related: My Journey From Couch-Surfing Kid to Tech Engineer
5. Get your creative juices flowing.
When you work out, you’re giving your body a chance to exert energy, to burn off stress, to focus on the here and now and let go of issues that have been plaguing you.
A good workout session can feel like a chance to purge your body through sweat, but it can also be cathartic for your mind. Working out reduces stress and helps you focus. But more than that, it’s also a great way to open yourself up to new ideas.
The gym can be a great place to get both your brain and your body working outside the box. It can give you that mental spark you’ve been looking for. One study shows that those who work out regularly do better on tests of creativity than those who are sedentary. Moving your body can help you overcome mental blocks and go deeper into a problem.
Scientists now recognize that intense exercise helps your brain produce brain-derived neutrophic factor, an important protein that helps stimulate the process of neurogenesis, which is the growth of new brain cells. What more do you need to know to convince you to hit the gym?