Chances are, you will work for a living to build a career and potentially gain some level of happiness in the process. Oh, and you obviously would like to be and remain healthy. One of the issues gaining a lot of national attention today is people’s mental health. That’s great news for founders who previously felt alone with their struggles, but all the coverage can also create the impression that starting a business is pretty brutal for your health and happiness. Starting a business, you might conclude, could make you wealthy, but there’s also a good chance it will impact your mental and physical health.
But the opposite is actually true. While there are some entrepreneurs who suffer from the stress of creating a startup, science says that on average entrepreneurs are happier and healthier than employees. Then there is a study out of Baylor University and Louisiana State University. Researchers there discovered an interesting trend by combining data from the Center for Disease Control and the US Census. What they found was that as the number of small businesses increased, the health of the surrounding community improved. And entrepreneurs, it turns out, have a significantly lower incidence of physical and mental illnesses, visit the hospital less often, and report higher levels of life satisfaction.
That last finding about life satisfaction raises an interesting question: if entrepreneurs are, on average, healthier, are they also happier? When Wharton surveyed some 11,000 graduates about their income and happiness levels, those making more were generally more satisfied with their lives. But earnings were definitely not the biggest predictor of happiness. Entrepreneurship was. Those running their own businesses were the happiest of the grads, no matter how much money they made.
So, let’s say you are not an entrepreneur and you want to be happier and have those feelings of accomplishment with less negative impact on your mental health. How do you do that? Well, you need to think and live like an entrepreneur.
– Think like an entrepreneur. People who are entrepreneurs own their decisions and take calculated, not crazy risks to accomplish their objectives. They are also doing what they want or perhaps even better, what they love.
– Love where you are. Life is short. Are you working at a company where you are truly engaged and believe in the mission or is it just a job? If it’s just a job, you may need to make a change and do something that makes you happy every day.
– Control your time. As you think about your average day, do you control your time or does it control you? Is your entire day filled with meetings and you feel nothing actually got done? Change the script and start to create a day where you are in more control of your time. Block some breathing time into your calendar. Say no more often.
– Own your decisions. In the era of consensus or group think, you need to do your homework and research and learn how to make and support your decisions. Nothing feels better when an initiative or project you drove yields favorable results.
– Grow your self-confidence. If you don’t really believe in yourself, why would anyone else. You are your best champion. Seek support from mentors and advisors. Look for ways to increase your skillset and knowledge. Set smaller goals and accomplish them well.
– Your mindset. Everyone was born to do nothing in particular. You can be whatever you want to be. The key is to fully embrace a growth mindset, one that believes you can learn and acquire what you need to be successful. Surround yourself with positive people who believe in you.